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08SARAJEVO1518 2008-09-25 14:13:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Sarajevo
Cable title:  

BOSNIA - SILAJDZIC STOKES THE FLAMES OF A RESTIVE

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1. (C) SUMMARY: Bosniak Tri-Presidency member Haris
Silajdzic has ratcheted up his anti-Republika Srpska (RS)
rhetoric, this time tking his vitriol to the international
stage. Hedelivered his most recent potshot during his
Septmber 23 speech to the UN General Assembly, at whic he
declared -- as he has repeatedly asserted wihin Bosnia --
that the RS was "created by genocide" and that the UN should
take steps to correct that genocide (implying the abolition
of the RS). These remarks precipitated an outcry among
Bosnian Serb parties and press, with RS PM Milorad Dodik
asserting that the RS would sooner call a referendum on
independence than accept changes to the Dayton Accords.
Silajdzic's UNGA grandstanding followed a September 15
announcement that he had brought a court case against the RS
for unilaterally engaging in foreign policy with the USG
through a US-based lobbying firm. During his press
conference, Silajdzic strongly implied that the USG should do
more to keep the Serbs in check. That stunt generated less
angst among the Serbs -- all parties dismissed it as a
campaign ploy ahead of Bosnia's October 5 municipal elections
-- and has lost steam even within Silajdzic's party. We
assess that unlike the recent declaration from the Party of
Democratic Action (SDA) calling on OHR to keep anti-Dayton
rhetoric at bay (reftel), Silajdzic's rhetoric is almost
entirely an election stunt, aimed at presenting himself and
his party as the strongest defenders of Bosniak interests.
It most likely will, however, contribute to an escalation of
rhetoric from the Serbs, who are tossing around the idea of
an independence referendum with increasing aplomb. END
SUMMARY.

At UNGA, the Gloves Come Off


--------------------------





2. (SBU) Silajdzic rattled the cages of every major Serb
party when he demanded the abolition of the RS in his
September 23 speech to the UN General Assembly. He told the
UNGA that the RS was "created by genocide on Bosnia and
Herzegovina," adding that the UN should "correct the errors
made during the war in Bosnia and send a clear message that
the genocide will not be rewarded." The Serb parties reacted
vociferously to Silajdzic's statements, calling for an
emergency session of the RS National Assembly on October 7
with one item on the agenda -- to react to Silajdzic's
speech. Nearly every RS newspaper commented on the speech,
including a headline in the sensationalist daily Fokus
entitled "War Again." Nebojsa Radmanovic, Serb member of the
Tri-Presidency, said that the speech came from "a war-leader
who missed his time" and constituted "a call to destroy
Dayton, a call to push Bosnia and Herzegovina into
uncertainty."



3. (SBU) The most obstreperous condemnation of Silajdzic's
speech came from RS PM Milorad Dodik, who publicly stated
that Bosnian Serbs would sooner resort to a referendum on
independence than accept the abolition of the RS or the
revision of the Dayton Accords. (Note: Dodik the previous
weekend made equally unconstructive statements calling for
the return of competencies to the state, arguing that if that
did not occur, Bosnia should be peacefully partitioned --
reported septel. End Note.) Dodik accused Silajdzic of
"trying to devalue any attempts at consensus in Bosnia and
Herzegovina," arguing that Bosniak parties have started "an
orchestrated campaign to destroy the Dayton Agreement and the
RS." He noted that although Silajdzic spoke to the UNGA in
his capacity as presiding member of the Tri-Presidency,
Silajdzic represented his personal views in this speech, not
those of the Bosnian state.

Court Case Sparks Only Chuckles among Serbs


--------------------------





4. (SBU) The seemingly unrelated prelude to the UNGA
antagonism came at a September 15 press conference in Bosnia,
at which Silajdzic declared that he had brought a complaint
to the Bosnian Constitutional Court against the RS. He
asserted that the RS had engaged in foreign policy activities
-- an exclusive competency of the state -- with the US
government. Silajdzic complained that the RS employed the US

SARAJEVO 00001518 002 OF 002


lobbying firm Quinn, Gillespie, and Associates (QGA), which
it paid $120,000 per month to lobby for RS interests in
Washington. Silajdzic claimed that he had documents from the
US Department of Justice showing that the relationship
between the RS and QGA was not limited to cultural liaison,
as the RS had claimed. Rather, according to Silajdzic, QGA
representatives met with officials from Congress and the
State Department to push for the RS position on
constitutional reform, the status of the RS, and Bosnia's
municipal elections.



5. (C) Both RS PM Milorad Dodik and Serb Tri-Presidency
member Nebojsa Radmanovic publicly responded to Silajdzic's
comments but with far less acrimony than the UNGA speech.
They stressed that the RS did nothing illegal by establishing
offices abroad and that Silajdzic was using this court case
as a ploy to keep the international community in BiH as long
as possible. Dodik added that the RS has offices elsewhere
besides Washington and plans to expand its network of these
offices. RS President Rajko Kuzmanovic opined that Silajdzic
is irritated by the fact that the RS is increasingly
recognizable in the world, adding that Silajdzic's lobbying
for the abolishment of the RS is itself anti-Dayton and
unconstitutional. All in all, though, two of Radmanovic's
advisors told us that Serb leaders are not concerned about
this case, as they believe it has no merit and the
Constitutional Court has no jurisdiction. According to them,
Radmanovic sees this case as simply an attempt by Silajdzic
to win votes in the elections.

Comment


--------------------------





6. (C) We view Silajdzic's stunts primarily as a ploy to win
votes in the October elections. He has long advocated --
with varying degrees of subtlety -- the abolition of the
entities, and grandstanding on the international stage is
probably an attempt to show his voters that he has the ear of
the international community in his quest to protect Bosniak
interests from the Serbs. Our contacts in SBiH even told us
that Silajdzic does not expect any results from the court
case, nor does he believe that a court verdict in his favor
would change Dodik's behavior. This electioneering is
concerning not as much for its content -- Silajdzic has
presented nothing new -- but for its potential to exacerbate
intransigence and unconstructive rhetoric from the Serbs.
Dodik is already talking about an independence referendum
with increasing alacrity. Comments like these from Silajdzic
will only add fuel to the fire and, at a minimum, deepen the
rift between the entities in advance of post-election talks
on essential reforms.
ENGLISH