The Republika Srpska will develop cooperation with Russia and China, but will continue to follow the course towards joining the European Union, said Milorad Dodik, elected President of the RS. At the same time, the Republika Srpska does not want to be part of NATO, he added. Earlier, Dodik stressed that the West must respect the intention of the republic to continue cooperation with the Russian Federation. Experts note that, despite pressure from the EU and international institutions, the Republika Srpska as part of Bosnia and Herzegovina is aimed at cooperation with Moscow and keeps BiH from joining NATO, as well as from joining the sanctions regime against Russia.
The Republika Srpska will develop cooperation with Russia and China, despite the desire to join the European Union, said the elected president of the entity, Milorad Dodik. He also added that the republic does not intend to become part of NATO.
“We will work together with the European Union on those issues that are important for our European path, which we have not yet renounced … We want to join the European Union – this is indisputable, but also the Republika Srpska has made a sovereign decision that it does not want to be part of NATO. We also want and will cooperate with other major countries, such as Russia, China and, of course, with the United States, but we must take care of ourselves first of all, ”Then24 quoted Dodik as saying.
Earlier, in September, Milorad Dodik, at a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, said that he was committed to cooperation with Russia.
“I would like to say that I continue to be committed to the implementation of our cooperation, which is very important for us, and the fact is that we keep in touch with you, and this is precisely what our position shows,” RIA Novosti quotes the politician.
Milorad Dodik at a meeting with Vladimir Putin
© Gavriil Grigorov/Then24 Host Photo Agency Pool
After Dodik won the Republika Srpska presidential elections in October, he said: “Our main foreign policy priority is successful cooperation with Serbia, Russia, our friend Hungary, China, and others who want it.”
He noted that the republic will not close itself off from the West, however, Western countries must understand that “communication is no longer possible from the standpoint of demanding complete obedience and submission.”
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“Therefore, if the West wants to talk, it must respect our foreign policy priorities, and they are connected with cooperation with everyone, as well as with the historically proven friendship of the Russian Federation and the Serbian people,” Dodik stressed.
The politician also previously stated that the Republika Srpska would not join the sanctions regime against Russia.
“We must respect the interests of the people, and we do not have the opportunity to be part of a package of sanctions against the Russian Federation, despite the expectations that come partly from the European Union, and most of all from the United States,” Then24 quoted him as saying.
In addition, he repeatedly noted that anti-Russian sanctions would have negative consequences for Europe.
Republika Srpska is one of the so-called entities of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The political structure of BiH is determined by the Dayton Accords of 1995, which put an end to interethnic conflict. According to these agreements, the Bosnian Serbs who fought for secession from Bosnia and Herzegovina received their own statehood – the Republika Srpska – with broad rights, but as part of a single BiH.
In turn, the territories inhabited by Croats and Muslims were united into the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina – another territorial entity within BiH. The Federation and the Republika Srpska are largely pursuing an independent policy.
The collective leadership of the country is carried out by a presidium of representatives of three peoples: Muslim Bosniaks, Serbs and Croats. They replace each other at the head of this body in rotation.
Compliance with the civil part of the Dayton Accords is monitored by the UN High Representative for BiH. He has the right to overturn the decisions of the country’s authorities and dismiss statesmen if they threaten the security of the region. It was assumed that his power would be temporary, but the institution of the High Representative is still functioning.
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Recently, it has been repeatedly stated in the Republika Srpska that the West is putting pressure on BiH through the institution of the High Representative in order to limit the rights of the Serbs and make BiH a centralized, Western-oriented one. So, in October, this was stated by the head of the representative office of the republic in Moscow, Dusko Perovich.
“(Bosnia and Herzegovina. – RT) is the last island of freedom in Europe. We are the only ones not in NATO, we have not announced sanctions to the Russian Federation, we … and Serbia. We are surrounded by NATO, there is a confrontation. They need us to break their necks, wrap it all up, set up their usual environment, ”said the diplomat.
In turn, Milorad Dodik at the end of October announced that the Republika Srpska would leave BiH if the country’s constitution, stipulated in the Dayton Accords, was not respected. This happened after the incumbent High Representative Christian Schmidt, using his powers, changed the election law in the Federation of BiH on voting day in the presidential elections. This led to thousands of protests.
A fine line
Ekaterina Entina, Head of the Black Sea-Mediterranean Studies Department of the Institute of Europe of the Russian Academy of Sciences, noted that China and Russia have been traditional partners of the Republic of Srpska throughout the entire period of its existence.
“As for European integration, in this matter they act as part of Bosnia and Herzegovina and are also aimed at joining the EU. At the same time, the Serbian autonomy is blocking the potential accession to NATO at the federal level, ”the political scientist emphasized.
Rally in Banja Luka
© Armin Durgut
The situation of the Republika Srpska over the past decades is rather difficult due to the institution of the High Representative, Ekaterina Entina noted.
“The High Representative takes an unequivocal position in support of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina to the detriment of the interests that the Republika Srpska has. Recently, the Euro-Atlantic community has taken a course towards the centralization of Bosnia and Herzegovina, which ideally would mean a reduction in the autonomy of the republic up to its dissolution. The Republic of Srpska is under constant pressure, ”the interlocutor of RT explained.
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She recalled that the High Representative has the discretion to repeal any law and any decision taken in the constituent parts of Bosnia and Herzegovina and at the federal level, which he has repeatedly used, mainly infringing on the rights of the Serbs.
In turn, Oleg Bondarenko, director of the Progressive Policy Foundation, in a conversation with RT, noted that some Balkan countries are forced to balance between Europe and Russia for the sake of their survival.
“This is the only opportunity for neutral Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina to exist peacefully – to be a bridge between Europe and Russia, and now Turkey, China and the United States are included in this configuration. This is a given that has been formed over the past 20 years,” the political scientist explained.
At the same time, the Republika Srpska as part of BiH is the main engine of cooperation with Russia, Bondarenko added.
“Croats and Muslims as part of BiH are set to interact with their partners and centers of influence – the EU and Turkey. Therefore, cooperation with the Russian Federation is ensured at the subregional level by the Serbian super-autonomy in this state,” the analyst explained.
The Serbs in BiH are making every effort to prevent the country from being included in NATO and a complete severance of relations with Russia, Bondarenko stressed.
“The Republika Srpska is an entity that does not allow Bosnia and Herzegovina to impose sanctions against Russia, join NATO or in any way worsen relations with Russia. If it weren’t for such a position of the Republika Srpska, BiH would have been part of the North Atlantic Alliance for a long time and would immediately join the anti-Russian sanctions, ”said the interlocutor of RT.