Claims by certain politicians and analysts that the West is asking Serbia's President, Aleksandar Vucic, to "get rid of” Bosnian Serb political leader Milorad Dodik are nothing but speculation, Dodik said on Tuesday.
"Only the people can get rid of me,” Dodik said, adding that he is cooperating with Vucic well.
Milorad Dodik is the President of Bosnia's Serb-dominated semi-autonomous entity, Republika Srpska (RS). He is at odds with the West as well as with the Bosniaks in the country.
He said only people in Republika Srpska can decide about his political destiny but that he is also convinced he will win the October election.
"Vucic respects the will of the people. In this regard, Serbia will not get involved in the electoral process, and Serbia cares for the stability of Republika Srpska,” he said.
Dodik met with the Serbian President in Belgrade on Monday, where the two discussed a variety of issues, among which was Vucic's visit to Mostar and Herzegovina and the realization of the projects that were agreed on there, issues regarding relations with Kosovo, and the upcoming general election in Bosnia.
“I informed him that elections were announced here and explained to him what the atmosphere is like in Republika Srpska and in Bosnia,” Dodik said, adding that Vucic, as always, showed a lot of interest in developments in Bosnia.
"As a country, Serbia respects the Dayton Treaty and the constitutional framework of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Serbia continuously supports Republika Srpska,” he said, mentioning that the country provided five million Euro twice to the entity and that „some projects for our people in Mostar will also be realized.”
Dodik, who is the leader of the Alliance of Independent Social Democrats (SNSD), told the Mostar-based 'Top Portal' that he expects his party and partners to win in the upcoming October election.
“In the next mandate Serbs are supposed to take over the position of the Chairman of Bosnia's Council of Ministers and that will be a challenge for Republika Srpska and the Serb people. We need to enter partnerships and arrangements,” he said.
The RS President and SNSD leader met with the Croat Presidency member of Bosnia's tripartite Presidency and leader of the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ), Dragan Covic, on Monday, and the two announced a post-election coalition.
Dodik is running for Serb member of the state Presidency, while Covic is up for reelection to represent Croats at the state level once again.
The two said they are certain they will win and that they already discussed how they would form the state government.
The SNSD and the HDZ agree on many issues, Dodik said.
“What the Croats and the HDZ are advocating is for members of a national group to elect their own representatives. This needs to be the case when speaking about Serbs in (Croat-Bosniak dominated) Mostar as well, so they can elect their own representatives,” Dodik said.
Dodik was referring to Bosnia's failure to change the Election Law based on a 2016 ruling by the Constitutional Court, which found that certain articles of the law regarding the matter of representation in the House of Peoples of Bosnia’s other semi-autonomous entity, the Federation, which is shared by Bosniaks and Croats, are unconstitutional.
Bosnia’s political leaders, most notably from the HDZ and the main Bosniak party, the Party of Democratic Action (SDA), have failed to find common ground on the issue.
The general election has, however, already been announced for October 7. It is unclear how the results would be implemented should the issue remain unresolved.
Dodik also touched upon claims that there could be various influences on the upcoming election.
„The mere fact that 12 million US Dollars were provided for supporting media and the NGO sector in Bosnia within the US programme and through the US Embassy, as well as another six million US Dollars for preventing a so-called Russian influence, which will be steered towards Republika Srpska and the Serbs, speaks about existing foreign interested parties that would like to create various arrangements here,” he said.
"Of course, the US is big and strong, and I have no intention to, in any way, oppose the US, except for the part which is important for the position of Republika Srpska and the Serb people,” he emphasized.
He said he is not ready to enter any compromise when it comes to weakening the position of Republika Srpska, which he claimed prior US administrations had worked towards before.
“I will stay principled, and it is up to the people if they believe them, who will, from a speculative level, attempt to denigrate Republika Srpska and its leadership, or if they will believe us, who have done everything to maintain the status of Republika Srpska and reclaim the honor of the Serb people,” he said.