(AFP) – Feb 27, 2008
BRUSSELS (AFP) — World powers supervising Bosnia's peace accords expressed concern Wednesday at Bosnian Serb threats to secede, warning that no part of the Balkans state had the right to break away.
The international community's representative in Bosnia, Miroslav Lajcak, also stressed that he would use special powers given to him at a meeting in Bonn, Germany in 1997 to ensure stability.
"The Peace Implementation Council (PIC) steering board expresses deep concern with official calls for secession and stressed that it is clear that an entity of Bosnia Hercegovina has no right to secede," he said.
"If there are threats to peace and stability, to the respect of the Dayton peace agreement, I will have no hesitation and I will use my Bonn powers," he added, after a meeting of the PIC steering board in Brussels.
The PIC guides the Dayton peace process that ended Bosnia's 1992-1995 war, and comprises more than 40 members including European Union states, the United States and Russia.
When asked whether the Bosnian Serbs would have a right to hold a referendum on breaking away, Lajcak said: "Absolutely no right."
Since the war, the former Yugoslav republic has consisted of two largely autonomous entities -- the Serb-run Republika Srpska and Muslim-Croat Federation.
They share weak central institutions, but each has its own government, parliament and police.
The Bosnian Serb parliament said last week that their entity should follow the example set by Kosovo and declare independence if a significant number of United Nations and EU members recognise the former Serbian province.
More than 10,000 Bosnian Serbs protested in Banja Luka Tuesday against the move by Kosovo's ethnic Albanian leaders and demanded the right to secede themselves on the same grounds.
Hundreds of them clashed with police outside the US consulate.
Lajcak also saw his mandate extended indefinitely until a series of political benchmarks and conditions are met by Bosnia's entity. His job as high representative had been set to end in June.
One of the conditions was that the parties sign a key pact on closer ties with the European Union -- the so-called Stabilisation and Association Agreement seen as a first step for Balkans state to join the EU.
"We are not playing games," he told reporters.
Closing the office "remains the goal for us and we just want to be sure that we will be able to say: 'Yes, we have completed our mission, we have achieved what we wanted to achieve'."
EU Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn said Tuesday that he expected Bosnia to be able to sign the agreement in April, if it met expectations on police reform.
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