Bosnia will accept the 5,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines Serbia offered to send to BiH's Federation (FBiH) entity, the three BiH Presidency members and heads of government of the state and both semi-autonomous entities agreed on Thursday, expressing disappointment with the COVAX mechanism for “failing to realise” its obligation to send vaccines to Bosnia.
The members of Bosnia’s tripartite Presidency, Milorad Dodik, Zeljko Komsic and Sefik Dzaferovic, the Council of Ministers Chairman, Zoran Tegeltija, and the prime ministers of Bosnia’s two entities, Fadil Novalic and Radovan Viskovic, met to discuss the problem of the country procuring vaccines against COVID-19.
They expressed disappointment with COVAX, arguing that its assessment that Bosnia is not ready to take over the vaccines yet is baseless.
“BiH has done everything to get certain vaccines through Covax, where over a million doses have been paid for, and it was agreed that they would be delivered in the first quarter. BiH rightly demands that the delivery begins, and if the deadline is breached, BiH will sue the program in that regard and ask for compensation,” said the Chairman and the Bosnian Serb member of the Presidency, Milorad Dodik.
Bosnia has not shown diplomatic weakness in this case but that it was proven that “we falsely trusted the COVAX mechanism,” he said.
“It is not true that BiH does not have the capacities to accept these vaccines,” he said, adding that such statements are only a way to justify the unwillingness to deliver them.
He said that Serbia’s President, Aleksandar Vucic, offered to send 5,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines to Bosnia’s Federation (FBiH) entity.
“Participants in the meeting accepted this offer and it is now up to FBiH to send a request for the delivery,” Dodik said.
The other semi-autonomous entity in BiH, Republika Srpska, has already procured 2,000 doses of Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine and according to Dodik, another 20,000 doses of the 400,000 in total that the RS ordered are expected to arrive this weekend.
“Obviously, Covax has failed in terms of realisation. We expect other European programs to come to us, but as things stand today, no one can say anything with certainty,” he said.
Dodik’s Bosnian Croat colleague in the Presidency, Zeljko Komsic, agreed with Dodik.
He said that the prime ministers of the state and both entities have stressed that Bosnia is ready to accept the vaccines.
“Obviously, their vaccines can fetch a higher price on the market than the one that was agreed with us,” he said, implying that there is a plan to resell the vaccines that Bosnia paid for to someone else for a higher price.
“We will accept Serbia's offer, but health workers should be vaccinated first. It will go through the Council of Ministers, the state and then the state will forward it to FBiH,” Komsic said.