Putin Meets Dodik On Eve Of Bosnia Referendum


By Danijel Kovacevic

Russian President Vladimir Putin met Milorad Dodik just ahead of the controversial Bosnian Serb referendum, but the substance of their talks could not be judged from terse statements.

Ahead of the meeting in Moscow on Thursday evening, media in the mainly Serbian entity of Bosnia, Republika Srpska, RS, hailed it as clear sign of Russian support for the controversial referendum on the RS’s National Day, which is set for Sunday.

The meeting produced only a brief statement from the Russian President. His office said the two leaders had “discussed the situation in the Balkans and various issues of bilateral cooperation. Views were exchanged on topical issues of the international agenda.”

The meeting lasted almost an hour and ended just before midnight, Moscow time, officials said.

Dodik was more vocal after the meeting. “President Putin expressed his support for the stabilization of the region, support for the [1995] Dayton Peace Agreement, wished for progress both for the RS and Bosnia and Herzegovina and, in this regard, expressed confidence that the Russian Federation with its positive attitude would contribute to stabilization and an overall good state of affairs”, Dodik reported to RS state radio and TV, RTRS.

Dodik said that during the meeting both leaders had expressed satisfaction with the economic cooperation between Russia and RS, and added that Russian investors remain interested in the RS.

“This was an opportunity to inform the President … about how the situation in Bosnia has been developing, and to express my opinion about it, particularly pointing to the fact that even after 20 years the High Representative is still present in Bosnia,” he said, adding that foreign nationals are present in other state institutions, such as the Constitutional Court.

“As for the referendum, there have not been any specific conversations, except for the conclusion that the people have the right to the referendum,” Dodik added.

Balkan Insight

The Balkan Insight (formerly the Balkin Investigative Reporting Network, BIRN) is a close group of editors and trainers that enables journalists in the region to produce in-depth analytical and investigative journalism on complex political, economic and social themes. BIRN emerged from the Balkan programme of the Institute for War & Peace Reporting, IWPR, in 2005. The original IWPR Balkans team was mandated to localise that programme and make it sustainable, in light of changing realities in the region and the maturity of the IWPR intervention. Since then, its work in publishing, media training and public debate activities has become synonymous with quality, reliability and impartiality. A fully-independent and local network, it is now developing as an efficient and self-sustainable regional institution to enhance the capacity for journalism that pushes for public debate on European-oriented political and economic reform.

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