The opposition Serb Democratic Party’s leader in Bosnia’s Republika Srpska entity said he is concerned about the ruling party’s plan to quit state-level judicial, defence and taxation authorities, which diplomats have warned is a move towards secession.

Mirko Sarovic, president of Serb Democratic Party, an opposition party in Bosnia’s Serb-dominated Republika Srpska entity, told BIRN that he is concerned about the consequences of the ruling Alliance of Independent Social Democrats’ proposal for Republika Srpska to quit the country’s state-level judicial, defence and taxation authorities.

The move, driven by Republika Srpska’s most powerful politician, Alliance of Independent Social Democrats’ leader Milorad Dodik, who is also a member of the tripartite state presidency, is being seen by Western diplomats as a secessionist ploy that could cause unrest in the country.

Sarovic said that he still has no idea about how Dodik’s plan to take judicial, defence and taxation matters under Republika Srpska’s control could be legally implemented.

“Economic collapse is a serious threat here,” Sarovic said.

“I am not supporter of gambling, adventurism or blindness,” he added.

The Alliance of Independent Social Democrats and its coalition partners have proposed that the Republika Srpska National Assembly withdraws its consent to transfer competencies on the judiciary, defence and indirect taxation to the state authorities of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

It would then establish its own tax legislation and top-level judicial institution to replace the authority of the High Judicial and Prosecutorial Council, HJPC, the country’s judicial overseer. Dodik has also suggested that Republika Srpska could re-establish its own armed forces, a suggestion that has alarmed the country’s Bosniaks.

EU and OSCE diplomats restated their support for the HJPC on Wednesday.

“The ambassadors noted that only the [Bosnia and Herzegovina] Parliamentary Assembly has the authority to modify the legislative framework regulating the establishment and competences of the HJPC. They moreover underlined that Bosnia and Herzegovina needs the HJPC in order to guarantee judicial independence, the efficiency and effectiveness of court procedures and steer judicial reform to further strengthen these,” the EU and OSCE missions said in a statement.

Meanwhile, High Representative Christian Schmidt, the international overseer of the implementation of the peace deal that ended the 1992-95 war, has warned in a report to the UN Security Council that the country faces “the greatest existential threat of the post-war period”.

Schmidt’s report said that “persistent, grave challenges to the fundamentals of the [Dayton Peace Agreement]” by the [Republika Srpska] leadership endanger the stability of the country and the region”.

The report also warns that Dodik’s announcement of the withdrawal of Republika Srpska from state-level institutions is “tantamount to secession without proclaiming it”.