Turkey proposes mediation in Bosnian crisis “to ensure stability”

ANKARA, December 28 (Reuters) – Turkey is ready to play the role of mediator in the Bosnian crisis and will do everything possible to ensure stability, Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said on Tuesday, amid concerns over the separatist measures by Bosnian Serb leader Milorad Dodik.

As part of a visit to Sarajevo this week, Akar met with his Bosnian counterpart, the Bosnian presidency and other officials, according to his ministry.

“We consider Bosnia and Herzegovina as a whole. We have done everything possible for its unity and stability, and we will continue to do so,” Akar told CNN Turk television after his talks.

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“If it wishes, Turkey can work as a mediator in Bosnia and Herzegovina,” Akar said, without giving details.

In a non-binding motion paving the way for Bosnian secession, Serbian lawmakers voted earlier this month to begin removing their Autonomous Serbian Republic from the Bosnian armed forces, tax system and judiciary.

Bosnia was divided into two autonomous regions – the Serbian Republic and the Federation, dominated by Bosnians and Croats – after its war of 1992-1995. The three institutions represent the key pillars of common security, the rule of law and the economic system.

Turkey said Serbian lawmakers’ vote was “bogus, dangerous” and could threaten regional stability. Germany called on the European Union to sanction Dodik.

The predominantly Muslim Turkey has close ties to Bosnia. President Tayyip Erdogan has often praised the Bosnian warlord Alija Izetbegovic while forging friendly relations with the Bosnian interethnic tripartite presidency.

Dodik wants to cancel all the reforms undertaken after the war and return to the constitution of 1995, under which the state was represented only by basic institutions while all the powers belonged to the regions.

Bosnian opposition leaders have warned that these measures could drag the Serbian Republic into another war, while some Bosnian Serbs have expressed concern over Dodik’s measures, fearing a relapse into chaos and even conflict as ‘they’re just struggling to make ends meet.

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Reporting by Tuvan Gumrukcu Editing by Daren Butler and Bernadette Baum

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