The US flew two F-16 fighter jets over Bosnia and Herzegovina on Monday as a show of force meant as a threat to Bosnian Serb leader Milorad Dodnik, who wants independence for the Serb-majority area of the country he controls.
Dodnik is the president of the Republika Srpska, a semi-autonomous Serb republic within the borders of Bosnia and Herzegovina that’s separate from the other part of the country that’s mainly populated by Bosniak Muslims and Croats, known as the Federation of Bosnia-Herzegovina.
The boundaries were set by the 1995 Dayton Accords, which were negotiated following a US and NATO intervention against the Serbs in the ethnic conflict in the area.
The US Embassy in Sarajevo said the F-16 fighter jets flew over Bosnia to show US support for the country’s “territorial integrity.”
“This bilateral training is an example of advanced military-to-military cooperation that contributes to peace and security in the Western Balkans as well as demonstrates the United States’ commitment to ensuring the territorial integrity of BiH (Bosnia-Herzegovina) in the face of anti-Dayton and secessionist activity,” the statement said, according to The Associated Press.
“The United States has underscored that the BiH (Bosnia-Herzegovina) Constitution provides no right of secession, and it will act if anyone tries to change this basic element,” the statement added.
Dodnik recently told AP that he will continue to pursue Serb interests despite threats from the US. “I am not irrational, I know that America’s response will be to use force … but I have no reason to be frightened by that into sacrificing (Serb) national interests,” he said.
He further said that if there’s international intervention backing Bosnian institutions then “in the next stage, we will be forced by their reaction to declare full independence” of Serb-controlled regions of Bosnia. James O’Brien, the US assistant secretary of State for European and Eurasian affairs, recently threatened that the US will “act” if anyone threatens the terms of the Dayton Accords and said nobody in the country has the right to “secession”, unless of course the US wants you to secede, then it’s different.