Putin disinterested in Serb entity referendum

Bosnian Serb leader Milorad Dodik said on Thursday that Russian President Vladimir Putin supported efforts to maintain stability in the Western Balkans as well as the Dayton peace agreement, but that they did not have any special discussions about a referendum to be held in the Bosnian Serb entity of Republika Srpska on September 25.

"As for the referendum, there weren't any special discussions, there was only the statement that that is the people's right," Dodik, who is the President of Republika Srpska, told the Serbian public broadcaster RTS.

Putin received Dodik for talks late on Thursday evening and the event did not receive almost any media attention in Russia.

Information on the meeting could only be found on the web site of "Rossiyskaya Gazeta", which said that Putin and Dodik, who was described as the leader of an entity within Bosnia and Herzegovina, discussed the situation in the Balkans, mutual relations and current international issues.

Dodik said that the meeting was an opportunity for him to acquaint Putin "with political developments in Bosnia and Herzegovina" and state his position on them.

"The most important topic was our economic cooperation," Dodik said, emphasising cooperation in the oil industry, i.e. the work of the oil refinery at Bosanski Brod, bought earlier by the Russian state-owned oil company Zarubezhneft.

The political issues discussed referred to the implementation of the Dayton peace agreement (which put an end to the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1995) and Putin said that he was very much interested in regional stability and compliance with international treaties, said Dodik.

"The Dayton agreement is a matter of Russia's interest and it was said that that would remain so," Dodik said.

In the referendum, residents in the Serb-dominated part of Bosnia and Herzegovina are expected to vote on whether to recognise a ruling by the Constitutional Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina that declared the marking of January 9 as the Serb entity's day as unconstitutional since it coincides with a Serbian Orthodox Christian holiday and so discriminates against Muslim Bosniaks and Catholic Croats living in that part of the country.

The court has also temporarily banned the planned referendum.

Last update: Fri, 23/09/2016 - 09:23

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