Banja Luka, December 3, 2014 / Independent Balkan News Agency
By Mladen Dragojlovic
The statement of Russian president Vladimir Putin that his country will stop the gas project South Stream is bad news for Republic of Srpska and BiH in general, said RS president Milorad Dodik.
On the announcement that Russia will not continue the South Stream project, many countries in the region already declared that they will have large financial damage and problems in energy stability. One wing of the “Southern stream” was planned to pass through the territory of BiH, more precise from East to West of RS. Since RS Government, several years ago, signed the contract with Russian partners for construction of this wing, many politicians in BiH Federation declared that it is not good for the state because BiH already has a contract with Russian partners about gas supply. This gas pipeline starts from the city of Zvornik, to the East, and goes through BiH Federation, but RS didn’t have a connection, apart from a small part around Zvornik.
Also, BiH Federation politicians mostly declared that South Stream project means strengthening of Russian influence in BiH. This entity, inhabited with Bosniak (Muslim) majority, prefers cooperation with Turkey and many links are already established. Former PM, now president of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in the past several times said that this country will “never leave the Bosinaks” and that Turkey will “continue to support its brothers in the Balkan, including BiH Muslims”. These statements were condemned by RS politicians.
Also, vice president of the biggest Bosniak party, Party of democratic action (SDA), Bakir Izetbegovic, recently said that “strengthening of Russian influence in BiH is not positive for the state”.
Dodik told the media that the withdrawal of the project is, for RS and the whole of BiH, “dramatic information”. He also expressed his hope that this project will continue in the future. But, USA Embassy officials also condemned the fact that a wing of “South Stream” was planned in RS. Embassy charge d’affaires, Nicolas Hill, said on Wednesday to the media during his visit to Banja Luka that “RS will not lose anything due to South Stream project’s cancellation” and that “it is better for Milorad Dodik to stop supporting the project which defies EU”.
Dodik’s response was quick and sharp. He said that Nicolas Hill is not a person who can determine what is good and what is bad for RS.
“Hill, apparently deliberately, overlooked and doesn’t wasn’t to accept the fact that “Southern stream” is a joint project of the Russian Federation and some EU countries”, Dodik said.
It is clear that in BiH the “Southern stream” is more than pipeline, but rather a project which could bring significant amount of money to the weak BiH economy.