Russian Ambassador in BiH, Igor Kalabukhov, denied that he said Russia would not allow Bosnia to join NATO, saying that US Ambassador Eric Nelson falsely interpreted his words.
Kalabukhov was referring to statements Nelson made in a recent interview when he said that “the Russian ambassador even said that last year, that Russia would not allow BiH to join the NATO alliance.”
“To put it mildly, this is an incorrect interpretation. Frankly, that's a lie. For Mr. Eric Nelson and all those who reacted hysterically to the statement in question, I repeat – Russia, unlike Washington, does not impose foreign policy priorities on Bosnia and Herzegovina,” Kalabukhov said.
“Bosnia and Herzegovina, which we consider a friendly country, has the sovereign right to choose. But if the choice is in favour of joining NATO, although it is clear that there is no consensus in the country on this issue, and the current situation is fundamentally different from the 2000s, Russia has every right to react to this hypothetical development in accordance with its national interests,” he said.
He reiterated that Russia does not accept the authority of the new High Representative in Bosnia, the international official overseeing the country’s 1995 Dayton Peace Agreement.
“Without a UN Security Council resolution, this post is vacant,” he said, arguing that the Peace Implementation Council Steering Board, which appointed Christian Schmidt to the post, did so “under pressure from Washington” and “is violating not only the spirit but also the letter of the Peace Agreement, each time distorting its text in its statements.”
“Not only we, but also sober observers in the West claim that the OHR (Office of the High Representative) is detrimental,” he said, noting that the first High Representative in Bosnia, Carl Bildt, also recently called for the closure of the OHR.
Kalabukhov even argued that the presence of the OHR “leads to destabilisation not only in BiH, but in the entire region.”
“But the blame is attributed, as usual, to a completely different person,” he said, criticising the sanctions the US imposed against BiH Presidency member, Milorad Dodik.
“At the same time, those who are now looking forward to the recently imposed restrictions should keep in mind that they can be affected as well – if Washington wants to punish someone “for corruption”,” he said.