Nebojsa Radmanovic, a member of the three-man presidency of Bosnia & Herzegovina, visited the Jewish state this week for a series of meetings with senior Israeli officials.
Under the terms of the 1995 Dayton Accords which ended the war in Bosnia, the presidency of the country was divided among the three largest ethnic groups: Croats, Serbs and Bosnian Muslims, with each community having one representative.
Radmanovic represents Republika Srpska (the Serbian Republic), a constituent part of Bosnia, on the three-man presidium.
In a lecture delivered to an overflow audience at the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies of Bar Ilan University on Tuesday, Radmanovic described his country’s key role in a UN vote which blocked Palestinian Authority ambitions to upgrade their status at the world body.
In November 2011, when the Palestinian Authority sought UN membership as a state, the deciding vote on the Security Council belonged to Bosnia. The Croat and Muslim members of Bosnia’s presidency both supported the Palestinian position, but thanks to Radmanovic’s principled opposition, a consensus could not be reached, which led Bosnia to withhold its support for the Palestinian cause.
“At the Bosnia & Herzegovina Presidency,” Radmanovic told the audience, “I did not support the initiative of Palestine for the membership in the United Nations and UNESCO.” His remarks were greeted with cheers and applause from members of the audience, who expressed their gratitude for the Bosnian Serb’s stance.
Under Bosnia’s constitution, the presidential triumvirate is tasked with determining the nation’s foreign policy via consensus, which often proves difficult to achieve.
Subsequently, when the Palestinians sought membership at UNESCO (the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization), Radmanovic and the Republika Srpska once again proved essential in preventing Bosnia’s vote from going to the Palestinians.
During his stay, Radmanovic met with Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman, who has visited Republika Srpska and worked to foster closer relations. He also met with Rabbi Professor Daniel Hershkovitz, the President of Bar Ilan University who previously served as Israel’s Science Minister. The two discussed ways to strengthen bilateral educational links.
The Bosnian Serb republic has its own representative office in Jerusalem, which is headed by Aleksandar Nikolic and which aims to build economic, cultural and social ties between Israel and the Republika Srpska.