Russia’s Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov, told the public broadcaster of Bosnia’s Republika Srpska (RS) entity on Saturday that the Bosnian Serb member of the tripartite BiH Presidency, Milorad Dodik, is not doing anything that is not in accordance with the Dayton Peace Agreement and that he is among the few politicians in BiH who are fighting for the Agreement to be respected, while the West is doing the opposite.
The Russian FM rejected the notion that Dodik, who is also the leader of the ruling party in Bosnia’s Serb-majority Republika Srpska (RS) entity, was working for Russian interests.
“No. Dodik is a friend of the Russian Federation and he is our friend, and we are his friends and that's it,” Lavrov told RTRS.
He said that what is being done to Dodik is “truly disturbing”, stressing that the Bosnian Serb political leader is “one among the very small number of politicians who are really fighting for Dayton principles.”
“He did nothing in the Republika Srpska and within the Presidency of BiH which is contrary to the Dayton Agreement. That is exactly what Westerners are doing and, unfortunately, that is what Bosniaks are doing,” he said, arguing that the West wants to abuse Bosniaks in order to deprive the peoples of BiH of their identity and turn Serbs and Croats and Bosniaks into “civil society.”
Lavrov argued that this was in fact a demand for ethnic groups to forget their roots, culture and tradition, solely for the sake of the West's interest in achieving its geopolitical goals in the Balkans.
The Russian FM stated that the West cannot even imagine that a country in the Balkans and a politician in the region can be independent because it is used to using foreign officials, such as the High Representative of the international community in BiH, Christian Schmidt, to “govern and blackmail everyone and set ultimatums.”
He said that BiH’s positions are supposed to rely on the principles of the Dayton Agreement which state that all decisions are made only on the basis of the consensus between the two entities and the three constituent peoples.
“What the West is now trying to do is to illegally encourage Sarajevo's actions to make foreign policy decisions without any consideration for the opinion of Republika Srpska, and that is the grossest violation of Dayton,” Lavrov said.
Lavrov gave an example of how the West “lied” that it would not expand NATO, that the Minsk Agreement on Donbas would be fulfilled, that the Community of Serb Municipalities in Kosovo would be established, and that it is now lying that it is committed to the Dayton Agreement.
He also spoke about the electoral reform efforts in BiH, arguing that the West is doing everything it can in order to force Croats to accept that they are represented in BiH institutions by Bosniaks or people who have a political agreement with Bosniaks.
“I don’t want to say that Bosniaks are not right on some things, but the Dayton principles require the consent of the three constituent peoples. And, as for the independence of BiH, keep in mind that the Americans have a special ambassador who is responsible for implementing electoral reforms in BiH, and that speaks volumes about how independent the authorities in Sarajevo are,” he said.
Lavrov said that the West keeps lying in order to justify its “lawlessness” and repeated Russia’s position that the High Representative Christian Schmidt does not have the legitimacy to serve the post.
He argued that back in 2006, the Steering Board of the Peace Implementation Council decided that it was time to abolish the post of the High Representative.
“But, with the help of various excuses, usually artificial and fictitious, the process was delayed and when the deadline for the previous High Representative expired, we said it was time to move to a higher level policy of respect for BiH, as it has already been an independent country for several decades but is still managed by an appointed representative, who has priority over all state bodies of BiH,” he noted.
He added that Westerners would not allow the post to be abolished and that their goal is to keep the whole of BiH in a state of tension and not let it go. However, he said that there are others, such as Republika Srpska, who do not want to be subordinated in this way.
Lavrov said that Schmidt’s appointment represents “the grossest violation of procedure” and that the West, as before, wants to “manipulate” BiH for its own interests and make it another base for NATO expansion in the Balkans.