Bosnia's Serb entity vowed on Tuesday never to recognise Kosovo's declaration of independence from Serbia although it was ruled legal by the World Court, and to back future Serbian moves on the matter.
The July 22 ruling rocked Serbia and analysts said it could both spur more states to recognise ethnic Albanian dominated Kosovo and embolden separatist minded regions everywhere, including Bosnia's Serb Republic, to pursue more autonomy.
"We think it is best to follow Serbia's policy," Serb Republic Prime Minister Milorad Dodik told reporters after a meeting of party leaders in his coalition on the International Court of Justice (ICJ) advisory opinion.
"The Serb Republic must not take a position of recognising Kosovo regardless of the fact that major world powers believe the ICJ opinion resolves the Kosovo issue," Dodik said. He added that the Serb Republic, which along with the Muslim Croat Federation comprises post war Bosnia, would form a panel to analyse the ruling.
Serbia's parliament on Monday passed a resolution rejecting the ICJ ruling and mandating the government to lobby for new talks on the status of Kosovo by proposing a United Nations Security Council resolution.
The day after the ruling, Dodik revisited the idea of secession but the United States was quick to rule out any fresh partition of Bosnia, wrecked by inter ethnic fighting in 1992 95 and still under international supervision.
Dodik, known for his separatist rhetoric, has called the meeting of all Bosnian Serb party leaders to discuss the effects of the world court ruling on Bosnia but most of them failed to show up, saying the meeting was arranged for Dodik's promotion.
"Dodik has tried to exploit the situation around Kosovo for his own political promotion instead of securing consensus about such an important issue," said Borislav Bojic of the biggest opposition Serb Democratic Party (SDS).
Bosnian Serbs continue to look for support to their wartime patron Serbia as well as Russia, which criticised the ruling and has not recognised Kosovo as an independent state.
They have made no secret of being unhappy in post war Bosnia and have threatened to call a referendum on secession, encouraged by nationalist politicians in Serbia angered by the Kosovo events.
Marko Pavic, head of the Democratic People's Alliance (DNS) that is part of the ruling coalition led by Dodik's Alliance of Independent Social Democrats party, said the ICJ opinion could well apply to the Serb Republic.
"The Serb Republic has passed a declaration which foresees a possibility of declaring independence, so we could become independent too," Pavic said. "Still, the Serb Republic will make no move against Serbia," he added.
Continued bickering between Bosnian Muslims and Croats who want a stronger and functional central state, and Serbs who are keener on autonomy and closer ties with Serbia, has stalled Bosnia's progress towards EU and NATO membership. October elections are expected to worsen such tensions.