Matviyenko's visit to BiH was on the brink of a diplomatic incident

Matviyenko's visit to BiH was on the brink of a diplomatic incident
A delegation of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation, headed by Speaker of the Russian Federation Council, Valentina Matviyenko, visited Bosnia and Herzegovina on Monday and Tuesday, managing to avoid a diplomatic incident at the last minute.

Right upon arrival in BiH's capital Sarajevo, Matviyenko addressed members of the Parliament saying that "Russia is one of the guarantors of the Dayton Peace Accords but it advocates the 'removal' of the Office of the High Representative (OHR)". According to her, the presence of the High Representative humiliates the peoples of Bosnia, who are supposed to handle the future of their country alone.  She said that Russia is focusing on constructive contents and is interested in expanding the cooperation with both BiH entities and the country as a whole. However, for her, it is unacceptable that other European countries are setting a matter choice between the EU and Russia.

"Such dictation is unacceptable. Countries should decide alone with whom they are going to cooperate. BiH established diplomatic relations with more than 150 countries of the world",  Matviyenko said, expressing support to the enhancement of its sovereignty and bilateral relations.

She stressed that "BiH can always count on Russia" and that Moscow never imposed nor supported interference in the internal relations of sovereign states.

Matviyenko welcomed the fact that BiH did not support the "illegitimate measures against Russia" and noted that the process of reorganizing the world order from a one-sided to a multilateral one is in progress.

"The U.S. is trying to ensure its leadership at all costs. That is why Russia is opposed [to it]. Western partners have begun preventing Russia from reversing our foreign-policy role. They are used of lies, information warfare and other measures", said Matviyenko, stressing that such attempts are useless.

But, when she said that BiH needs judiciary reform and that the BiH Prosecution Office and the Court have no standfast in the local Constitution, Bosniak MP in BiH Parliament, Halid Genjac, understood that as interference in internal BiH issues. He left the solemn session in a showy way but Serb MPs condemned his decision, saying that it represented a diplomatic incident.

The second day of the visit things remained "arythmic". After meeting with members of BiH Presidency, Matviyenko and other members of the Russian delegation arrived in Banja Luka to meet with Republika Srpska's president, Milorad Dodik, and other high officials. The red carpet, honorary police unit in brand new uniforms, rapport and Dodik’s warm welcome had an air of a separate state, not that of one of Bosnia and Herzegovina's entities. Interestingly, there was no single BiH flag, just Russian and Republika Srpska flags in the front of President Palace in Banja Luka.

After the meeting with Dodik, Matviyenko thanked Republika Srpska for warmly welcoming the Russian delegation, stressing that they regard such hospitality as a special gesture of respect for her country.

"Thanks to the personal efforts of the president of RS and his team, we have succeeded in improving the development of Russian-Serbian relations in recent years. Russia has always been and will be a true friend of Republika Srpska's," Matviyenko has said.

Dodik stressed that links between the RS and Russia are very strong and announced that RS will purchase a police helicopter from Russia. He added that the Russian and Serb nations have had good relations throughout the history and that, in honour of the Russian people, RS will build the Russian Church in Banja Luka. Both of them stressed the importance of economic ties, which are good for the moment.

Matviyenko addressed Republika Srpska National Assembly's MPs but Bosniak and Croat members did not attend the session due to her Monday speech in Sarajevo. The visit showed that viewpoints of BiH politicians on the state's future are divided and that there is small chance that they will get closer with this kind of politicians. Secondly, the visit was obviously arranged to show the power of Russia in this part of the world.

The burning question connected with the foundation stone of the Russian Church in Banja Luka (expected to be laid since the summer of 2017) is who will represent Russia at the ceremony... / ΙΒΝΑ

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