Bosnian Serbs Seek US Lawyers’ Help

Sarajevo – The government of Bosnia’s Serb-dominated entity of Republika Srpska, has hired a US law firm to deal with the Office of the High Representative and upcoming key reforms.

Republika Srpska Premier Milorad Dodik said that the firm, Dewey and LeBoeuf, will advise his government on relations with the international community and all other legal matters, including on a list of reforms required for closing the Office of the High Representative, OHR, local media reported on Monday.

This move is seen as yet another snub by Dodik to the OHR, which according to Dodik “has exceeded the limit of its mandate” and should close and leave Bosnia as soon as possible.

The OHR was supposed to end its mandate in Bosnia by 2008, but because of the worsening political deadlock in the country over the past two years, it has set up a list of reforms which – once implemented – will enable its closure and transfer to a stronger European Union mission in the country.
However some of these reforms – such as the regulation of the state property, legalisation of the status of the Brcko district and the normalisation of the political situation in the country – are highly disputed, vague and open to different interpretations.
So far, the OHR was the ultimate interpreter of the Dayton peace accord and hence the main interpreter of its own mandate. But by hiring a United States law firm specialised in international law, Dodik’s is seen as moving his arguments against the OHR onto legal grounds.
Dewey and LeBoeuf representatives tried to meet senior OHR officials at the end of the last week. Yet they were received only by lower-level staff and told that OHR intends to continue communicating directly with Dodik on all key legal issues, local media reported over the weekend.
In addition to hiring the US law firm, Dodik has recently confirmed that his government has hired a US lobbying company that was supposed to represent Republika Srpska in Washington and other western countries.
Bosniak (Bosnian Muslim) officials complained that this, as well as the opening of Republika Srpska offices abroad, showed that Republika Srpska continue taking responsibilities which belong to the state.

Some Bosniak officials also complained that Dodik is strengthening its representation abroad as a part of lobbying that should soften world powers to the idea of Republika Srpska’s eventual declaration of independence. 

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