Interview conducted by Igor Gojkovic, International Affairs, Serbia – Bosnia and Herzegovina
At a recent UN Security Council meeting on Bosnia and Herzegovina, another biased and false report by the UN High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina, Valentin Inzko, caused a negative response from Republika Srpska and Russia’s UN envoy Vasily Nebenzya.
We discussed this with Milorad Dodik, the leader of the Serbs in Bosnia and a Serbian member of the Presidium of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
- The UN High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina, Valentin Inzko, has been telling lies about Bosnia and Herzegovina for many years now, deliberately misleading the UN Security Council and creating an atmosphere of instability to justify his official position and his actions. The UN Security Council examines the situation in individual countries only when they threaten regional or global security. Bosnia and Herzegovina has not posed such a threat for a long time, but thanks to Mr. Inzko, it is still on that list.
Valentin Inzko owes his position at the UN Security Council to a pertinent provision of the Dayton agreement whereby he is tasked with submitting reports to various organizations and countries, namely Russia, the US, the EU, and the UN Security Council. He then chose the UN and stayed there.
His main task was to uphold the Dayton accords in their original form. However, there is a video where one of Inzko’s predecessors, Paddy Ashdown, boasts in the British parliament, saying that he had to “twist the arms of local politicians to change Dayton" – a clear confession of a crime. This is exactly what the current High Representative, who is called upon to deal with international crimes and violations of international law, keeps doing now with US and EU support.
Because Republika Srpska is not an internationally recognized country, it cannot file any lawsuits against the UN High Representative. This is a problem we have to deal with, and we are grateful to Russia for allowing Republika Srpska to submit to the UN Security Council a truthful report, which sheds light on the illegal activities of the High Representative, who deceives the UN on many issues concerning Bosnia and Herzegovina.
There is sufficient evidence of Mr. Inzko’s illegal activity, which violates the personal rights of people, especially politicians, as well as of police officers, whom he has dismissed from their positions without any compensation and without any reason. And now he is bending every effort to maintain this unlawful status quo and justify his actions. Thanks to the so-called “Bonn powers,” which were never envisaged by the original text of the Dayton accords, the High Representative designated himself as someone who has the right to legislate and even interfere in the constitutions of entities.
As a result, we now have a situation where Bosnia and Herzegovina has a constitution that is completely divorced from reality. It has seen 83 powers illegally taken away from its authorities and handed over to the central government in Sarajevo.
In his latest report, just like in all his previous ones, Inzko identifies Republika Srpska as the main problem, which lays bare his open bias.
In that report, Mr. Inzko describes a session of the Republika Srpska parliament, which hadn’t even happened then, as a threat to the Dayton accords. Simultaneously, the report supports the two-month-old declaration by the Party of Democratic Action, (the ruling Muslim party in Sarajevo), which rides roughshod over the terms of the Dayton agreement by advocating the unitary status of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina, even though the text of the Dayton accords makes no mention of any republic other than Republika Srpska, which is the only such republic mentioned in the current Constitution of Bosnia and Herzegovina!
In his report to the UN Security Council, Inzko chides the Serbian representatives from Bosnia for meeting with Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić, but I don’t think he has any right to say anything about it because this is simply none of his business.
The truth of the matter is, however, that Republika Srpska is doing everything it can to harmonize relations in Bosnia and Herzegovina, so that it can function properly.
Republika Srpska also makes it perfectly clear that it will not tolerate any more bullying from the High Representative, and that it has the option of becoming independent, and we make no secret of this. I still want to emphasize that, contrary to Mr. Inzko’s allegations, nothing is currently being done to this effect.
We also want to emphasize that we do not regard the EU as the only alternative, just as remaining a part of Bosnia and Herzegovina is not the only alternative for the Serbs who live here. We have other alternatives on our mind and this is something I want everyone to be aware of.
* Who really needed this UN Security Council meeting on Bosnia and Herzegovina?
- Only this morally deranged High Representative, who saw it as a chance for himself to get more global exposure and justify his monthly salary of 24,000 euros, along with many other perks, such as tax exemption here and in his country, all because he is allegedly working in high-risk conditions.
The UN Security Council meeting was also supposed to provide a platform for some other countries trying to keep teaching others the lessons of Bosnia and Herzegovina and support exactly such a High Representative. These are Britain, the US, Germany and several other countries that refuse to see how hard this man, through his illegal actions in Bosnia and Herzegovina, is trying to rule the country with the help of illegal decisions.
And these countries continue to support a High Representative, who has already broken all international laws, the Dayton Accords and the Vienna Convention on International Rights, which clearly states that agreements must be implemented exactly as written.
These countries once promoted the motto of “the Spirit of Dayton,” but exactly the way they saw it.
For us it was a real nightmare! And today, these countries are trying to justify their misconception about the "Spirit of Dayton," even though they had pushed Bosnia and Herzegovina into a swamp, an almost impossible situation.
If the High Representative took some decision against us now, it would only please the Muslims. It would never be carried out though.
Today, Kosovo is a major problem of a regional, European and even global scope. Huge diplomatic resources are at work trying to solve it, from the EU to US special representatives...
Last week, Britain pulled Kosovo off the Security Council’s agenda, replacing it with a discussion of the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina, thus creating an incredible and absurd situation, which raises questions about the standards and principles being used here. How can we trust the British who just a few years ago called for a resolution condemning the Serbs for genocide committed in the past century? And proposing this were precisely those, who have committed many genocides in history. If it hadn’t been for Russia, this resolution would have been put on the agenda of the UN Security Council, and today my one-year-old grandson would bear this shameful label pinned on him by the British.
I do not accept this. I believe that no peace can be achieved using such standards.
But they [Britain], as a former imperialist, colonial power, are trying to keep projecting their power to small countries and small nations like us.
London has allocated £12 million to set up three centers in Sarajevo, Podgorica and Tirana to resist “Russian influence in the Balkans." They are all financed by the British, and this is all written down in their official documents. During the elections here, the British Secretary of Defense said that they had lined up £40 million to send troops to hold elections in Bosnia and Herzegovina! What kind of democracy are we talking about?!
On the other hand, there is Vladimir Putin, who never demanded anything from us, but simply asked how he could help us. He only helped us in what we asked for. He never insisted on anything, never demanded anything from us... And the West still considers this help in a negative light! At the same time, it sees nothing wrong in that its representatives lie and break international law.
* The Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov recently went on record warning about the US using pressure and blackmail to bring Bosnia and Herzegovina into NATO...
- This is exactly what High Representative Inzko is doing. Speaking on behalf of Bosnia and Herzegovina, he says that it should move towards Euro-Atlantic integration. But this is not what Bosnia and Herzegovina really wants, because Republika Srpska is against this integration. NATO bombed the Serbs twice, once in Republika Srpska and once in Serbia. We suffered huge human and material losses, with depleted uranium scattered all across our country to cause malignant diseases in our newborn babies for centuries to come.
And this is something we just can’t accept. By agreeing to move towards joining NATO, we would provide a moral justification for those who killed our children.
On the other hand, the world has changed. We do not want to be part of a bloc that is opposed to Russia, Serbia and many other countries. Originally established to act exclusively against Russia, NATO is now trying to justify its desire to stay on in our country by the need to resist the "malignant influence of Russians," which no one but NATO seems to notice.
The anti-Russian pressure being used against us by the West is really overwhelming. In Sarajevo, as I mentioned before, there is a whole center at work in an effort to undermine the so-called Russian influence, and which is using pressure against people like me. What they need to understand, however, is that the Serbian people have never forced anyone to like Russia and dislike someone else. This is simply what our people feel deep in their hearts.
Today, not a single politician in Republika Srpska would survive as such if he came out and said that he was for NATO and against Russia. We all live here and think that Russia is fair and is helping us a lot. I have repeatedly spoken with President Putin, and I have already said that he never demanded anything from me, unlike those from the West, who are still forcing on us ready-made solutions based on the carrot and stick principle.
When the West insisted that Bosnia and Herzegovina join the sanctions against Russia, Republika Srpska said no, despite the enormous pressure exerted on us at that time. This happens each time the West renews anti-Russian sanctions, and then we always have all kinds of their scammers coming out of the woodwork demanding that we [join these sanctions]. And when we refuse, they say that we are "under the malign influence of Russia."
Nonsense! How about the malign influence of the North Atlantic Alliance, which has its units stationed here? And how about the malign influence of the West, which always meddles in Bosnia and Herzegovina’s affairs, even down to the lowest levels of government, not to mention the toxic effects of the UN High Representative, who violates the terms of the Dayton agreement on a daily basis?! They do not see all this as malignant, because they believe that what they are talking about serves our best interest. I will be ready to meet them halfway only when they realize that we represent our own interests, not theirs.
*The West accuses you of destroying the Dayton Agreement, while and at the same time failing to respond to the congress of the SDA (Party of Democratic Action, the governing Muslim party), which is discussing documents related to the creation of a unitary Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
- I just can’t believe that! There is no evidence at all that I am destroying Dayton, because if there was, they would immediately clamp down on me. But I insist that if those who are destroying Dayton keep doing this, Bosnia will cease to exist. These are my assessments, but a mere mention of this is described by them as anti-Dayton.
What kind of a country is Bosnia, who needs a country like that? Bosnia and Herzegovina is an invention of liberal capitalism. The only logical solution was to carve it up in 1995, and then establish stable relations between the communities without getting back to the concept of Federal Yugoslavia, which by that time had proved unviable.
For decades, Bosnia and Herzegovina was called Yugoslavia in miniature. And when this large country was no longer able to survive the serious problems between the Serbs, Croats and Muslims, we Serbs, Croats and Muslims moved into little Bosnia and Herzegovina and said that we would stay there under the supervision of the international community.
From the very outset [the West] sided with the Muslims, demonizing the Serbs and blaming them for everything that was happening. Nowadays, Yugoslavia in miniature – Bosnia – no longer lives the way it did before the war. The “tiger skin” - mixed population, where cities were completely mixed (although in the countryside they still knew who lived where) is also gone. In today’s Bosnia and Herzegovina there is a demarcation line that clearly outlines Republika Srpska, and this line of entities can also become a state border.
* More than a year has passed since the elections and there is still no established authority in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Republika Srpska is the only one that is functioning. Who exactly is happy with the absence of government at the state level in Bosnia and Herzegovina and in the second entity (the Muslim-Croatian Federation)?
- The West considers my party and my political group a threat. They know that with us they won’t be able to implement what they are imposing on us and what they want us to do. And we will do only what we believe is in the best interest of Republika Srpska and is consistent with its Constitution and laws. And we will not do their bidding, that’s why we are the “bad guys.” The United States has imposed personal sanctions on me because I don’t do what they want me to do. Fearing what they call the “Dodik group,” they cooked up a horror story to an extent that it has been hindering the formation of state power in Bosnia and Herzegovina for more than a year now. However, they can’t do anything without us, because we received maximum popular support during the elections.
I am a member of the Presidium of Bosnia and Herzegovina and am not ready to support some quasi-Serbs or traitors who are always easy to find, and put them in power. I won’t agree with this and they know that full well, that’s why they have a problem with my mandate and my people’s mandates too.
We represent the largest political group from Republika Srpska, which enjoys the support of two-thirds of our MPs for the first time since the war, when we had only one political party here.
We do not take orders from the UN High Representative, and we said a long time ago that we will not publish his decisions in our official newspaper (“Public Service”). If he thinks that he can rule in Republika Srpska, he is free to publish his decisions in his official newspaper, which, of course, does not exist.
Carlos Westendorp, who was the second High Representative, once stated that the “Bonn powers” were against the Dayton Accord. And today, in view of what the West has done against Dayton, they are trying to tell us that we are wrong because we do not support them. How could we support those international fraudsters who took 83 powers away from Republika Srpska and handed them over to the level of Bosnia and Herzegovina? The fact is, however, that Bosnia and Herzegovina was more likely to succeed 20 years ago, when the situation was different from what we have today. This is what they did. Having failed, they blamed it all down on us.
* You believe that the Serbian issue in the Balkans has not yet been resolved, and advocate the idea of a union between Republika Srpska and Serbia...
- Serbs are the main victims of the breakup of the former Yugoslavia. They have been a tiny majority for several decades in Slovenia, where they are even denied the status of an ethnic minority. Not to mention the situation in Croatia, where out of the 560,000 ethnic Serbs, just over 100,000 have remained, most of whom are either being assimilated en masse, or are simply disappearing. Of the 540,000 Serbs who lived in the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina (second entity) before the war, only about 50,000 have remained. And they still accuse us of ethnic cleansings! In Montenegro, the Serbs find themselves in an equally unenviable situation; in Northern Macedonia, attempts were made by some groups and the state itself to take away everything that belonged to the Serbian Orthodox Church, not to mention Kosovo!
There is a state of Serbia, whose biggest problem is Kosovo, and there is Republika Srpska, which they forced to become part of Bosnia and Herzegovina and told us that we should stay here and suffer, unable to affirm all our inalienable freedoms and rights - the fundamental right of a people to be together, the right, which we have consistently been deprived of. Anyone who even tries to suggest that we can come together in the near or distant future is immediately branded as a “bad guy,” who must be criticized and even sanctioned by the West.
This confirms what the British said a long time ago, when the Ottoman Empire was coming apart, that by no means should the Serbs be allowed to get together in a single state, because it they did, they would become a factor in the Balkans. Even today, every British ambassador posted to the Balkans receives instructions based on this fundamental notion. That’s why they are working hard to prevent the Serbs from getting stronger and acting together. It is the British who have been creating problems in the Balkans for more than a century now, hiding behind the backs of the EU and sometimes of the US as well. They are trying to keep the Serbs apart, but are always ready to grab for themselves as much as they possibly can. They consider themselves as a kind of a superior race, and us as pagans, who need to be disciplined!
The world we now live in is a strange place indeed. [President] Trump speaks at the UN General Assembly about smart leaders who need to protect their people, abandon globalism and return to patriotism. At the same time, his people call our patriots nationalists of the worst kind.
*Were you the first to raise your voice against solutions being imposed from the outside?
- We all know how state power was once established here and in Serbia. We were the first to tell foreigners that it was not what we wanted. It still turned out that it was possible. Had we failed to do that then, we would not have survived today and would have lost what we had managed to salvage. Politically speaking, we are here on a rescue mission of sorts. We are pushing back against constant attacks on our identity and Republika Srpska, which symbolizes this identity.
They want to make us hate our republic, to make a shell out of it, they are talking about genocide and many things like that, which of course is not true. They want us to blame ourselves, even demonize ourselves. Maybe then we would look good to them.
* Turkey is increasingly active in the region, but its policy has changed. Turkey is no longer blindly toeing NATO’s and America’s line; it has good relations with Serbia and Russia. Is Bosnia and Herzegovina ready to deal with this new-look Turkey?
- Earlier, when Ahmet Davutoglu held a high post (Prime Minister in 2014-2016 - Ed.), he wrote the book “Zero Problems.” However, the Turks then created a thousand problems. He flew to Bosnia and Herzegovina and said that it was the place where Turkey needed to restore the Ottoman Empire. We disagreed, of course, and this led to a confrontation with Ankara.
President Erdogan has recently been coming up with completely different ideas. I had a chance to hear him say on several occasions that he was ready to support development projects in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and not just in its Muslim part. One proof of this is the construction of the Belgrade-Sarajevo-Belgrade expressway, a ring road that will solve Bosnia and Herzegovina’s centuries-old problem of being a transport dead end.
Once commissioned, this expressway will significantly increase the flow of traffic along the already highly advanced Turkey-Europe route. We are discussing this with Turkey and are trying to consider their interests in this project.
Don’t get me wrong, we are not ready to agree with any ideas that could jeopardize our nation. We also realize that since the Turks share the same faith with the Bosnian Muslims, they are bound to have closer cooperation with them. However, we believe that Bosnians are realistic enough to recognize that we are Orthodox Serbs, and that there are no Bosnian Serbs or Croatian Serbs, and that there are only Serbs.
I am a Serb, but I am not a Bosnian Serb, and it offends me when someone tells me that I am a Bosnian Serb. I am a Serb, someone may say I’m from Bosnia, but I am not a Bosnian Serb nonetheless.
*You proposed holding a four-way Sarajevo-Ankara-Belgrade-Moscow meeting. Will Bosnian Muslim representatives accept such an offer?
- If Turkey insists, the answer would certainly be yes. I raised this issue at a tripartite meeting in Belgrade, attended by Presidents Erdogan and Vučić. It was said that this should be organized at a foreign minister level.
[Russian Foreign] Minister Sergey Lavrov raised this issue several times when we met. I have nothing against such a meeting, and I think that it would be a good thing. I think, however, that people in Sarajevo may be wary of the possible Western reaction to this, because they do not like it when there is something the West finds hard to understand. I will certainly support this proposal, because we need to meet and talk.
We also see some positive developments taking place in Turkey itself, with relations with Russia, so tense in the wake of the downing of the Russian plane, having improved so much, which makes me happy. Just a few years ago no one would imagine that Turkey would buy S-400 air defense systems from Russia despite strong opposition and threats from NATO.
All this suggests that Turkey has a different face now. Again, we should not mislead ourselves and look carefully at Turkey as it is, as it is trying to treat everyone equally.
* There are a number of joint projects now underway between Republika Srpska and the Russian Federation. One of them is a gas pipeline near Bijeljina...
- We have an agreement to this effect with Gazprom, but we were waiting for the end of this story under the working title “Turkish Stream,” and I suggest that “Balkan Stream” would be a more appropriate name (no insult intended, of course). If Bulgaria had not canceled South Stream, we would already have this project ready to go. This newest pipeline runs across Bulgaria again, and we are happy to see it being built, as this will result in the implementation of a memorandum with Gazprom on the construction of a gas pipeline running from Serbia to Banja Luka.
* You often meet with the Russian president. Your adviser, the famous film director Emir Kusturitsa, said that the Russian president told him that you suit him both in spirit and in what you do... How does the Russian president suit you?
- President Putin is certainly one of the most important world leaders, a man who managed to restore Russia economically and otherwise, a man who is leading Russia, which 20 years ago had almost lost its bearings, through very difficult times.
After he took the helm, Russia demonstrated its willpower and returned to the world stage as a global force, in a situation where many questioned its potential, which recently manifested itself in Syria. If the Russians had not moved in, Syria would still be in the throes of a conflict and an unfinished war.
I have a great deal of respect for President Putin and look forward to any opportunity to meet him again. We usually meet once or twice a year, and, of course, I would like this to happen more often. We always talk as friends, and I appreciate his sincere desire to share with us his views of current events. For example, at the height of the Ukrainian crisis, he spent almost a whole hour explaining to us what was going on, even though we were not a significant factor in those events.
He is a man who listens carefully to the people he talks to, who speaks little, but clearly. For me, having a chance to meet him is not only a great political honor, but a lifetime honor as well.