Russian Ambassador in Bosnia, Igor Kalabukhov, told BiH’s public broadcaster that Russia does not see anything wrong with Bosnia’s Republika Srpska (RS) entity gaining more autonomy and that his country would support it if it would be achieved through dialogue.
Kalabukhov spoke to BHRT amid a major political crisis in Bosnia over an initiative by BiH Presidency member and leader of the ruling party in the Serb-majority RS entity, Milorad Dodik, to roll back reforms which led to the post-war establishment of numerous state institutions, including the army, indirect taxation authority and judicial institutions.
Dodik announced that the RS will unilaterally withdraw from those institutions and form its own, separate ones.
Kalabukhov said that he would not comment on whether such a move would be legitimate, but that it should be a matter of the political process and based on an agreement between the bodies of the two semi-autonomous entities in the country.
Russia believes that RS raised the issue of returning competencies within a democratic process, he said, noting that in the past, competencies were transferred to the state level due to pressure from the international community.
He also reiterated Russia’s position that the appointment of High Representative Christian Schmidt, the international official overseeing the civilian implementation of the 1995 Dayton Peace Agreement, was not in line with the procedure and that, as far as Russia is concerned, there is no High Representative in Bosnia currently.
The High Representative is appointed by the Peace Implementation Council (PIC), the international body overseeing Bosnia’s peace process. Russia is a member of the body but never agreed to Schmidt’s appointment.
“As a guarantor of the Dayton Agreement, we are a member of the PIC, but we do not work with the OHR (Office of the High Representative) while Christian Schmidt is there. We do not support any official contacts with Mr. Schmidt,” Kalabukhov said.
He also commented on the decision of Schmidt’s predecessor, Valentin Inzko, who used his special powers to impose a law banning genocide denial and glorification of war criminals.
Kalabukhov called the move “subjective and unbalanced.”
“It would have been best if that decision was taken in the institutions of BiH, during the discussion, during the dialogue. This dialogue is being conducted. Of course, not everyone may know about this dialogue, but it is being discussed in diplomatic circles,” he said.
The Russian Ambassador also argued that there is nothing wrong with the RS rejecting the law as it should be a matter decided by the RS National Assembly.
He stressed that Russia believes that decisions by the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY), especially those regarding the 1995 Srebrenica Genocide, are questionable.