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Dodik and Lavrov fully agree - OHR in BiH should be closed

Text: Vanja Tolj, FENA Photo/Hazim Aljović

SARAJEVO, December 14 (FENA) - Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov began a two-day visit to Bosnia and Herzegovina with a meeting with the BiH Presidency Chairman Milorad Dodik in East Sarajevo.

The interlocutors touched on numerous topics, including the Dayton Peace Agreement, the Office of the High Representative and HR Valentin Inzko and his function in BiH, NATO and Euro-Atlantic integration of BiH, as well as "the cooperation between the entity of Republika Srpska and the Russian Federation in several areas."

Dodik thanked for the support that Russia provides to the RS and emphasized that Lavrov's visit accidentally coincided with the anniversary of the signing of the Dayton Peace Agreement.

"We intended to meet earlier, but symbolically it turned out to happen on the day of the signing of the Dayton PA. Russia's support has always been an indication to us that there are those who respect the signed agreements. Russia played a role in the drafting and implementation of the Dayton Peace Agreement, and we talked about that today. That agreement was not made to be revoked without consensus from all three constituent peoples," said Dodik.

He also referred to the Office of the High Representative and the role of HR Valentin Inzko in BiH and stressed that the RS demands that the office be abolished.

"Our opinion of the Bonn powers is that it is a fraud and a hoax. The PIC Steering Board said that it welcomed the intention, but did not give authorization, meaning that all the decisions passed by the High Representative must be repealed," Dodik believes.

He stressed that "the RS accepts cooperation with NATO, but not integration into NATO."

"We do not accept NATO integration. The Republika Srpska would not benefit from that, and we do not accept that BiH should have a Commission for NATO Integration," said Dodik.

Speaking about European integration, Dodik said that "there is some kind of agreement in BiH", adding that "since the other part of BiH wants to abolish the RS, we say that we will not stay in such BiH and I think that is legitimate".

"We also talked about European integration and I told Lavrov that there is agreement on that issue. Our assessment is that the European Commission, with its 14 points from the Opinion, is hindering that integration by asking for something to be done contrary to the Dayton Agreement. We did not ask for any support for secession, which they want to present as something to what we are committed," underlined Dodik. 

He stressed that "the relations between the RS and Russia are good and that there are no open issues."

"We have successful cooperation, it takes place through a number of projects that we have implemented and we intend to implement in the future. The topics of the meeting were the operations of the Oil Refinery and gasification projects, cultural cooperation and all other projects that we need to go back to in the old dynamic. We will not join the sanctions against Russia, and that is our clear policy. We are grateful to Russia for respecting international law," said Dodik.

After Dodik's address, Lavrov stressed at a press conference that "any attempt to overthrow the Dayton PA, an agreement that keeps a fragile balance in BiH, could lead to serious consequences, "and that the Office of the High Representative in BiH should have been closed a long time ago.

"The existence of the OHR in BiH shows disrespect for the peoples of BiH and for the sovereignty of this country. This external protectorate, represented by the Office of the High Representative in BiH, has become completely outdated.

The Dayton PA has not created any obstacles in the relations between BiH and foreign partners, including the European Union. Its principles of equality of the three constituent peoples and the two entities should be respected. The speed with which BiH should move towards the EU should be adopted on the basis of the Dayton principles. These basic principles require that all problems within BiH be resolved through internal political dialogue and consensus, and Russia does not want to interfere in that process," Lavrov said.

He believes that "the position of the RS on rejecting NATO integration does not hinder Bosnia and Herzegovina on the path to EU integration."

He also stressed that "the Russian Federation respectfully accepts the decision of the entity of Republika Srpska on military neutrality."

"We believe that this is a responsible decision, that we do not need new divisions on the European continent, we do not need new confrontations. There is no alternative to peace and security and we need dialogue and to respect international law and UN resolutions," Lavrov said.

He pointed out that the meeting was also a chance to talk about bilateral relations and the improvement of economic ties between BiH and Russia, and stressed "Russia's support for the RS in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic."

Both Dodik and Lavrov pointed out that they discussed the procurement of the Covid-19 vaccine, with Dodik emphasizing that "the RS will procure the Russian vaccine."

During his official visit, Lavrov will have official meetings with the Presidency of BiH, as well as with the Minister of Foreign Affairs of BiH, Bisera Turković.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov's visit to Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia had been planned for October 28 and 29, but as he found himself in isolation due to the pandemic, all planned visits were postponed.

Lavrov's last visit to BiH was just ahead of the 2018 general elections when he visited Sarajevo and Banja Luka.