Germany suspends funds over Bosnian Serb secessionist moves: Envoy

Pro-Russian Serb leader Milorad Dodik has triggered the gravest political crisis in Bosnia. PHOTO: REUTERS

SARAJEVO (REUTERS) - The German government has suspended €120 million (S$175 million) worth of infrastructure projects in Bosnia's Serb region over its leader's secessionist policies, international peace envoy Christian Schmidt said on Monday (July 4).

Schmidt said in an interview for regional N1 television that he could not rule out that Germany might follow the United States and Britain and impose sanctions against those seen as destabilising Bosnia and Herzegovina.

"Nobody should feel safe in this regard," Schmidt said, without naming anyone.

Pro-Russian Serb leader Milorad Dodik has triggered the gravest political crisis in Bosnia since the end of its war in the 1990s after moving to roll back all constitutional reforms and return state powers to two regions created under a peace deal that ended the conflict.

But Dodik, who serves as the Serb member of Bosnia's tripartite inter-ethnic presidency, has stepped back after the United States and Britain imposed sanctions against him and his close associates, saying last month that the war in Ukraine and its knock-on effects have delayed his secessionist plans for now.

Dodik does not recognise Schmidt as the international High Representative, saying that his nomination was not approved in the United Nations Security Council, where Russia and China had tried and failed to block his appointment.

There has been concern that Moscow may also vet the extension of the EU's peacekeeping force EUFOR's mandate in the Security Council in November.

"The message must be clear - the international presence will remain here," Schmidt said, adding that Germany was expected to soon approve deployment of its troops as part of EUFOR for the first time in a decade.

Germany announced the move last month as concerns mount about instability from the Ukraine war spilling over to the Western Balkans.

Bosnia lies hundreds of kilometres from the fighting, but faces an increasingly assertive Bosnian Serb separatist movement that analysts say has at least tacit support from Moscow.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.