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Vučić and Dodik - not at all neutral neutrality

Until recently, it seemed that it was a duet of "Serbian leaders" that nothing could separate... After the elections in Bosnia and Herzegovina, nothing remained of that idyllic image.

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Photo: Betaphoto
Photo: Betaphoto
Disclaimer: The translations are mostly done through AI translator and might not be 100% accurate.

It seems that the construction of the "Serbian world" is already stuck at the first serious natural and political obstacle - the Drina.

Aleksandar Vučić sits on one side of the Drina, Milorad Dodik on the other. Until recently, it seemed that it was a duet of "Serbian leaders" that nothing could separate and stop in their pursuit of a common goal, whatever it was and however it was defined. After the elections in Bosnia and Herzegovina, nothing remained of that idyllic image.

Namely, it was (would be) expected that Vučić would provide strong support, in principle but also quite concrete and logistical, to the "younger brother" from Banja Luka, as had happened before, but that support was absent this time. And not only was she absent, she was somehow - very loudly absent.

Striking was the "neutrality" of a man who is never neutral, but is either neutral for you, or neutral against you. Dodik and his political environment correctly interpreted this neutrality. And that neutrality was not without unpleasant consequences, although even without it he already had enough problems to maintain full control over the Republika Srpska, which he likes to consider a country in its infancy, on the long road to unification with the "mother" Serbia.

There, on that nationalist ideological matrix, Vučić and Dodik met long ago, coming from two different directions: Vučić evolved from extreme nationalism to allegedly moderate conservatism (which is usually much easier to prove that it is conservatism than that it is moderate), while Dodik politically evolved from a (admittedly, little-supported) social-democratic position to large-nationalist and ethno-separatist positions.

Be that as it may, ideologies are easily overlooked in the whirlwinds of political Olympus when it comes to interests, and especially the one that summarizes and integrates all the others: the survival and expansion of power, personal and party.

So where did it get stuck on the Drina?

At some point, the logic of staying in power began to separate this duet, in which there was never any sincere political "love" anyway.

For his position, Dodik chose radical resistance to everything coming from Sarajevo, but also from Western addresses, European or American. He planted a time bomb under Bosnia and Herzegovina, and since then he has constantly threatened that, if he is not satisfied, he will pull the fuse and detonate everything, no matter what. For that, he got a pat on the back, and probably much more specific gifts, from Orban and Putin.

Everyone in that trio has their own calculation and their own reasons, and what we are looking at is their intersection. An unpleasant sight, no doubt.

On the other hand, Vučić still has to balance between worlds; actually - it's not that he has to, but it's a position that he decided on, considering that it's the best for him, no matter how realistically it exhausts Serbia and puts it in front of impossible, and not really hard to avoid, temptations.

In such a state, Serbia objectively does not move anywhere, but vegetates as a dazed and resigned victim of the kidnapping of all its resources and institutions, paralyzed and completely blocked in the service of a capricious arbitrariness.

In this balancing act, Vučić has already done more than enough, since the beginning of the Russian aggression against Ukraine, to bring the country to the brink of isolation and interrupt the already barely noticeable process of reintegration into the mother, European continent. This inevitably produced enormous pressure on Serbia, and that pressure must be relieved somewhere, if only for the sake of simply buying time, which is anyway Vučić's favorite technique of ruling: not doing anything important in order to get a break until some next moment - in which again you won't do anything important. And so ten years pass...

By persistently refusing to join even the most symbolic sanctions against the aggressor Russia, Vučić has sharpened a risky, actually dangerous game with the country's fate to the limit.

It is not difficult to imagine that a kind of "sacrifice" of Dodik, at least through a noticeable distancing from him and from the most destructive aspects of his political activity, could have the purpose of relaxing relations with the West, a concession that costs Vučić himself almost nothing.

Moreover, there is a certain political charm in it for him because, let's not have any illusions, Vučić does not tolerate any remotely independent and remotely strong political player anywhere in the area he perceives as his sphere of interest.

And what about Serbia's interest? Sometimes it happens that it overlaps with the interest of its extra-constitutional ruler, but it happens only by chance, there is no system in it. If it happens that we see less of Dodik on this side of the Drina in the future, it will be a certain "ambient" relief. But it will not solve even one of Serbia's key problems by itself, because all its key problems reside here.

(Free Europe)

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