This originally appeared on 10.2.2014 on http://www.slobodnaevropa.org/content/popov-tvrdnja-da-bunt-ugrozava-rs-cist-bezobrazluk/25258968.html
Aleksandar Popov from the Centre For Regionalism in Novi Sad, Serbia, calls trying to change the subject of the protests to threats to RS insolent.
“This is an attempt to use old tricks to try to disrupt a purely economical protest, which started because of misery and poverty, in order to put an end to social solidarity and put people in their national sheepfolds so that they [the politicians] can regain control over people’s fates. With support from key politicians from Serbia, the politicians from RS are trying to delude people in BiH, telling them ‘don’t let yourselves be fooled, this is a Bosniak-Croatian ruse which targets RS’, and that is sheer insolence”!
To recap, the message from Belgrade was that the unrest in BiH constitutes an attack on RS and BiH as defined by the Dayton agreement. While it’s true that this was said by the President of RS, Milorad Dodik, after his meeting with the Vice-President of Serbia, Aleksandar Vučić, similar words were said by Prime Minister Ivica Dačić: political demands of ‘one person, one vote’, he says, go toward the abolition of the entities and of the rights of the people, which was the reason for the war in BiH. Vice-President Vučić was more reserved, saying that he invited the two politicians from Banjaluka to an urgent meeting in Belgrade, together with the President and the leader of the opposition, because of concerns for the stability in RS and the region, skipping mentioning the state of BiH entirely.
Sonja Biserko from the Helsinki Committee to Serbia says that the social unrest in BiH worries the authorities in Belgrade and Banjaluka because poverty, misery and dissatisfaction are equally present in all parts of BiH and the region, so that there is a possibility of a domino effect. Biserko says that the social uprising also has positive connotations:
“This is a desirable development for the region because the citizens are denouncing that ethno-national matrix and because problems in the future will first and foremost be solved on the economical and social level. When it comes to that, none of the elites in the region have any answers. Clearly they will [try to stay] on that other lever in order to prevent this, but I think things can still go in a direction that they don’t anticipate and that they won’t be able to stop. It’s about time the region started expressing itself in a different way.”