Above mentioned rhetoric is dangerous, yet it is not the first time Dodik used words about secession or threatened national and international authorities. Dodik, for example, used the very same rhetoric in 2005, during his political comeback, since when he has achieved to succeed in every next election in Republika Srpska. Also, in 2014, Dodik threatened to hold a referendum on the independence of Republika Srpska, arguing the similarities with Kosovo, Scotland or Crimea.
Even though the situation in 2021 must be taken seriously, taking a closer look, it might not be so easy for Dodik to fulfil his threats.
Firstly, the 1995 Dayton Peace Agreement that ended the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina requires all signatories to refrain from actions that could be threatening or using force and damage the territorial integrity and political independence of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Furthermore, it is stated in Annex 10 of the agreement that all entities in Bosnia and Herzegovina must cooperate with the High Representative or the international organizations. Therefore, Dodik’s threats are not legally based, and the global community would probably interfere somehow if Dodik decided to violate the Dayton Peace Agreement.
Even if Dodik would not consider the international community and its pressure, other factors limit his claims and their performance in reality.
Dodik confidently claimed that around 80% of Serb troops were immediately willing to leave the BiH army and join the newly formed armed forces of Republika Srpska. As realistic as that claim might look, Senad Masovic, the chief of the Joint Headquarters of the Bosnian Armed Forces, refused Dodik’s claims about polls, stating that he has no information that a survey was carried out and that such activity would be a violation of the laws, which refrain any entity or institutions from conducting polls on such a sensitive issue. It appears that Dodik probably tried to create the illusion that Serbs in the BiH army are ready to fight for Republika Srpska. However, the question is whether Serb soldiers would sacrifice relatively stable positions in the military for instability and long-term negative political consequences when they enjoy regular payments and peaceful life in the country.
Secondly, even if Serbian soldiers were willing to sacrifice the advantages mentioned above and risk any conflict for Dodik’s ambitions, Dodik should consider whether Republika Srpska could survive without the help of its international partners. Although Dodik claims that China is ready to substitute the most significant financial supporters of his entity and that Russia is also prepared to assist in various ways, the credibility of these claims is doubtful. China and Russia might provide some help. Both countries have increased investments in BiH in the past years. China, for example, has invested in highways or power plants. However, the amount of Chinese or Russian financial support by far does not match the European Union’s investments pumped into the Serbian entity.