The referendum Bosnian Serb entity authorities plan to organise on September 25 is the most serious threat to peace and stability in Bosnia and Herzegovina and resolute measures need to be taken to prevent such an unconstitutional vote, the leadership of the predominantly Bosniak Party of Democratic Action (SDA) concluded at an emergency meeting in Sarajevo on Monday.
This was the response of the biggest Bosniak political party in the country to reports that next month voters in the Serb entity of Republika Srpska (RS) will vote to decide if they want January 9 to continue to be commemorated as that entity's day despite a ruling by the Constitutional Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina that that commemorative day is unconstitutional because it harms the interests of Croats and Bosniaks in that entity.
Bakir Izetbegovic, the leader of the SDA and Chairman of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina, told reporters his party believed the referendum plans were "the most flagrant breach of the Dayton peace agreement so far" and that they would open a Pandora's box of various referendums.
"This is the first attempt to organise an anti-Dayton referendum in the RS and RS President Milorad Dodik has said that sooner or later a referendum will be organised on the secession of that entity, too," said Izetbegovic.
"This is the beginning of the collapse of the peace agreement and peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina. It will most probably lead to the collapse of peace in this part of Europe and that will most probably happen in 2018," Izetbegovic said.
He expressed dissatisfaction with what he described as lukewarm reactions to referendum plans in the Serb entity, calling on all state institutions to take action and do what was their duty.
"There can be no peaceful disassociation in Bosnia and Herzegovina but there can be conflicts," he warned dramatically, calling on the Office of the High Representative and the Peace Implementation Council to act promptly.
The SDA also called on the Constitutional Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina to pass a decision that would ban referendums in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Izetbegovic called for the establishment of "a mass patriotic front" of all parties that care about the survival of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Despite the negative reactions of Bosniak politicians and representatives of the international community to the referendum, preparations for it are continuing.
A commission tasked with organising the vote met in Banja Luka today to define what the referendum ballot paper will look like and the cost of organising the vote.
Its chair Sinisa Karan said preparations would continue even if the Constitutional Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina passed a decision declaring the vote unlawful.
He underlined, however, for the first time since debates about the vote started, that the vote was of "an advisory nature" and that its outcome did not oblige the entity parliament to adopt any decisions.