Tue, 18 Jun 2019

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has traveled to Bosnia-Herzegovina for talks with Bosnian officials in Sarajevo and with the leaders of the Republika Srpska entity in Banja Luka.

Lavrov met in Banja Luka on September 21 with Republika Srpska President Milorad Dodik and Serbian Prime Minister Ivica Dacic. Dacic did not participate in Lavrov's meetings in Sarajevo.

Speaking to journalists, Lavrov said Russia respected Bosnia's sovereignty and territorial integrity and was not interfering in the country's national elections set for October 7.

'We will always respect the Bosnian people's choice and will work with anyone they elect,' he said. 'We never give advice to other countries' people as to whom they should vote for.'

Dodik is running for a place in Bosnia's tripartite presidency on a platform of greater autonomy for Republika Srpska, the predominantly ethnic Serb entity of the Bosnian federation.

Earlier, local analysts had speculated that Lavrov's visit was timed to lend support to Dodik's candidacy. In August, the Serbian newspaper Vecrnje Novosti wrote that Russia might back an independence bid by Republika Srpska.

In Banja Luka, Lavrov said Moscow was 'firmly committed to the Dayton accords and stands against any attempts to review them,' referring to the 1995 agreements that ended the Bosnian War.

With reporting by AP and TASS RFE/RL's Balkan Service

RFE/RL's Balkan Service promotes the values of democracy, human rights, and freedom of expression in a region where genuine media freedom remains elusive and where many media outlets remain divided along ethnic lines.

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Copyright (c) 2018. RFE/RL, Inc. Republished with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036

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