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UK Warns Republika Srpska President Against Attempts to ‘Score Electoral Points’

Pro-Russian Milorad Dodik said that presence of British soldiers to monitor Bosnian elections ‘borders on intrusion.’

4 July 2018

The British Embassy in Sarajevo has cautioned Republika Srpska President Milorad Dodik (pictured) that his recent remarks risk damaging Bosnia’s relationship with the United Kingdom, Reuters writes.

 

Last month, Dodik accused London of attempting to interfere in the country’s upcoming elections after an announcement that London will send 40 military personnel to join an EU-NATO mission in Bosnia, according to Balkan Insight.

 

“This deployment demonstrates our commitment to making sure the elections in Bosnia are free and fair – and take place uninterrupted from malign external influence,” defense secretary Gavin Williamson said, as cited by The Times.

 

However, Dodik said at the time that “Republika Srpska does not need this, nor have its authorities asked for it,” and that the act “borders on intrusion in the country.”

 

Bosnia is divided into two mostly autonomous entities, Serb-majority Republika Srpska and the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, largely comprised of Bosniaks (Bosnian Muslims) and Bosnian Croats. Reflecting its ethnic makeup, the country has a tripartite presidency, and Dodik is running for the Serbian seat.

 

In a statement cited by Reuters, the British Embassy in Sarajevo said that the United Kingdom “does not take sides” in the upcoming Bosnian elections, and “kindly asked” political players to “stop trying to draw the UK into their election campaigns."

 

"It is very disappointing that President Dodik has chosen repeatedly to portray the UK as in some way a threat to the Republika Srpska. Inventing fake threats may be a good way to score electoral points, but it risks damaging the long-term relationship with the UK," the statement of the British Embassy in Sarajevo said.

 

Dodik replied by saying that "The Embassy of Great Britain should not be lecturing about freedom of expression or any other internal political issue because they are not here to deal with that,” according to Bosnian news channel N1.

 

 

  • This May, Dodik spoke about the existence of a “hidden Sarajevo structure” behind the recent surge in migrants. According to N1 television channel, quoted by The Irish Times, Dodik suggested the existence of a conspiracy to bring Muslim migrants in Bosnia to “strengthen their position here and then, in some four, five, 10 years say that there is a clear Bosniak, meaning Muslim majority in the country.” 

 

  • The political climate has been tense ahead of national elections on 7 October. Although the date has been set, there is still no agreement about election rules for the upper house of the Bosniak-Croat entity’s parliament.

Compiled by Ioana Caloianu

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