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Ashton wins concession from Bosnian Serbs

Ashton wins concession from Bosnian Serbs
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The Bosnian Serbs have stepped away from a full-on confrontation with the rest of Europe.

They have dropped plans to hold a referendum on rejecting the authority of the Bosnian national court and the international envoy overseeing the country’s fragile peace.

The move follows a surprise visit by the EU’s foreign policy boss Catherine Ashton.

For the past several years, Bosnia has been locked in a political crisis between its former adversaries living in two autonomous regions — a Serb Republic sceptical of national institutions, and a federation shared by Muslims and Croats.

The Serb region had planned to ask its citizens whether they accept the authority of the national court and the international envoy, who has broad but rarely-used powers.

A driving force behind the referendum has been Milorad Dodik, the nationalist president of Bosnia’s Serb Republic entity, who has often advocated secession of his region from Bosnia. He said the national court, which prosecutes war crimes suspects, is biased against Serbs.