Bosnian Serb leader Milorad Dodik has, in practice, not shown any respect for Austria’s efforts in Bosnia, Austrian Ambassador Martin Pammer said in a response to Dodik’s refusal to meet with him.
Dodik, who will be swapping his post of President of the Serb-dominated semi-autonomous entity in Bosnia, Republika Srpska (RS), for the post of the Bosnian Serb member of the tripartite state presidency, declined a meeting with Pammer, accusing him of anti-Serb bias during his mandate.
Dodik wrote to Pammer in early November, accusing him of supporting “Bosniak politics” and tarnishing the reputation of the RS. He also criticised Pammer’s support for Bosnia’s top international official, Valentin Inzko.
Inzko is overseeing the implementation of the Dayton Peace Agreement which ended the 1992-1995 Bosnian war and Dodik and other Bosnian Serb officials have for years been accusing him of breaching both the Agreement and international law.
In his response, Pammer wrote that Austria’s Embassy has always strived toward strengthening relations between Bosnia and Austria and that it supported a number of projects in the country, as well as in its RS part. He exemplified this with the opening of a museum of contemporary art in Banja Luka, the RS’s administrative centre, and the presence of Austrian companies in the RS towns of Derventa and Prijedor.
“You have, unfortunately, never attended any of those events organised by the Austrian Embassy,” Pammer wrote.
“Unfortunately, I have to point out that the respect, which you have in your letter expressed several times toward Austria and its state bodies, does not show in practice,” Pammer wrote.
According to the Austrian Ambassador, Dodik’s rhetoric and questioning of the state unity of Bosnia and Herzegovina had resulted in uncertainty and fear, especially with Austrian investors.
Pammer wrote that Austria supports Bosnia’s path toward EU membership, and that the EU emphasises Bosnia’s integrity and functionality.
“I firmly reject your assertion that ‘I favoured Bosniak politics’ and I have to correct it, as I have always represented the official position of the Austrian Government,” he wrote.
The Ambassador also presented a clarification regarding an incident which Dodik wrote about in his letter. Dodik accused the Ambassador of attacking a group of retirees in the southern town of Trebinje a few months ago. According to Pammer, however, he was the one being verbally assaulted.
In his letter, Dodik said he will inform Austrian officials of Pammer's performance in Bosnia.
"Your statement that you will inform Austrian state bodies of my performance in Sarajevo, which was expressed as a threat, has left me indifferent," the Austrian Ambassador wrote.
“I have informed my superiors in advance about your letter and about my reply and I will continue to report about your statements and your activities, as this is my job,” Pammer wrote.
The Austrian Ambassador again emphasized his support for Inzko and said that Dodik’s allegations against him are unjustified.
Pammer also noted that Dodik has previously attacked foreign diplomats, such as the US and French ambassadors, calling suchbehaviour "unprecedented" and saying that it hurts Bosnia as a state and Republika Srpska as an entity.