BANJA LUKA, Bosnia, May 31 (Reuters) - Prime Minister Milorad Dodik on Wednesday dropped the idea of an independence referendum for his Bosnian Serb Republic, saying there was no international backing for its secession. "I am not an adventurer and I am aware that there is no support now for a referendum for the secession of Republika Srpska from Bosnia, nor is there a possibility that it would be recognised," he told reporters.
An independence referendum is promoted by a small group of Serb nationalists unhappy at sharing a state with Muslims and Croats they fought in the 1990s.
Their campaign got a boost when Montenegrins voted on May 21 to end their union with Serbia. Together with a probability that Kosovo Albanians will gain independence from Serbia this year, this has got some Serbs asking why them and not us?
Dodik, considered a moderate who adheres to the Dayton Accords that created Bosnia's two-part state after war ended in 1995, was criticised for making statements recently that seemed to endorse that the Serbs could vote themselves out of Bosnia.
Western envoys rejected the idea warning that major powers would not tolerate any threat to Bosnia's integrity as a state.
"There is no possibility for a referendum of this type in Bosnia and Herzegovina," deputy peace overseer Larry Butler told reporters on Wednesday.
It would violate the country's constitution and Dayton.
The Serb National Movement, a minor organisation made up of dozens of Serbs forced out of Croatia in 1995, said this week it had collected nearly 50,000 signatures of Serbs across the country for a petition to demand an independence referendum.
But since it cannot launch an initiative for a referendum in the parliament, the small Radical Party challenged Dodik to put the issue on the agenda and prove he was serious.
Dodik's political rivals had dismissed his remarks as pre-election rhetoric. But observers warned the idea could get wider support following harsh comments by Muslim parties and organisations who called for the abolition of the Serb Republic, saying it was built on ethnic cleansing and mass murder.
"Sarajevo needs to accept that Republika Srpska was not based on genocide and crime," Dodik said. "It was created in 1992, and these events took place later."