Institute for War and Peace Reporting | Giving Voice, Driving Change

Press Speculate Over Srebrenica Status Issue

Bosnian politicians have reached an agreement on special status for Srebrenica, according to media reports.
By Lisa Clifford
Srebrenica will be awarded special status within Republika Srpska, RS, the Sarajevo weekly Sloboda Bosna has reported.



Citing a source from the Office of the High Representative, OHR, the title said that the new status involved the appointment of an international supervisor for Srebrenica, whose powers would be similar to those of the former EU administrator for Mostar, Hans Koschnik.



Hundreds of Muslims who returned to Srebrenica after the war have long been unhappy with living conditions there and want the eastern Bosnian town classed as a district and run by the Bosnian state instead of the Bosnian Serb entity.



They say their community will leave Srebrenica for good if the demand is not met.



While Bosnian Muslim and Croat politicians support the returnees’ demand, the RS government sees it as another attempt to undermine the Serb statelet. The Banja Luka authorities have said in the past that they would do everything in their power to prevent Srebrenica from breaking away.



Slobodna Bosna said that RS prime minister Milorad Dodik, Federation prime minister Nedzad Brankovic, state parliament member and chairman of the Party of Democratic Action Sulejman Tihic and Bosnian state prime minister Nikola Spiric had reached the agreement with the help of the principal deputy high representative Raffi Gregorian.



The recent appointment of OHR’s special envoy to Srebrenica indicates that these claims may not be completely unfounded. As of May 3, former US ambassador to Bosnia Clifford Bond is OHR’s special envoy to the Srebrenica region. He will serve as the international community’s contact point for the local authorities on state and entity levels on issues related to the Srebrenica area, including Bratunac.



Ambassador Bond will also monitor the overall political situation in the Srebrenica area and report to the high representative on activities and developments within the area of his responsibility, in particular political developments in Srebrenica and Bratunac.



However, from a statement OHR issued on May 3 it was not clear what exact powers Bond has been vested with and whether he will promote a special status for Srebrenica.



Lisa Clifford is an IWPR reporter in The Hague.