The President of the Bosnian Serb entity of Republika Srpska (RS), Milorad Dodik, said on Wednesday that the referendum the entity authorities planned to hold on September 25 would be organised regardless of all the controversy surrounding it and that another one, on the secession of that entity from Bosnia and Herzegovina was possible.
In an interview with the regional TV network N1, Dodik removed any doubt as to whether the referendum on Republika Srpska Day, marked on January 9, could be cancelled amidst calls by numerous officials not to hold it.
"The referendum is to be held on September 25 and there won't be any delays."
Speaking ahead of a meeting with Serbia's president and prime minister, Dodik said that he was grateful to Tomislav Nikolic and Aleksandar Vucic for organising the meeting, but was confident that they "will not interfere in Bosnia and Herzegovina's internal affairs."
"Serbia is ready to protect the powers given to the RS under the Dayton (peace agreement)," he said, challenging again the jurisdiction of the Constitutional Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina and claiming that its rulings favoured Bosniaks (Muslims) owing to votes of three foreign judges.
He dismissed warnings that the September 25 referendum was actually setting the stage for a referendum on the entity's secession from Bosnia and Herzegovina but at the same time confirmed that such a referendum taking place in 2018 should not be ruled out, as announced in his SNSD party's platform in 2015.
Dodik said the Dayton agreement had been entirely "degraded", calling representatives of the international community in Bosnia and Herzegovina who had amended the agreement "thieves and criminals."
He concluded that as a result the Croats in Bosnia and Herzegovina were deprived of their rights as well.
"I ask Bosniaks and Croats to sit down with us and that we start from the beginning. The international community has not done anything. We have the Washington and Dayton agreements, those documents have given rights to all sides and that should be the starting point," he said.
Asked about secretly recorded talks between Croatian Social Democrat leader and former Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic and representatives of Croatian war veterans that were leaked to the press recently, Dodik said that "the Croats committed genocide against Serbs in the NDH (Independent State of Croatia)."
"Hundreds of thousands of Serbs were killed and Croatia has never properly distanced itself (from the crimes)," Dodik said, accusing also the current Croatian authorities of preventing Croatian Serb refugees from claiming back their property.