“The Russian Federation is the most important diplomatic ally of the Republic of Srpska, which protects the best interests of the Serbian entity in the international political arena and within the key organization, especially in the United Nations,” the Serbian Member of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina Milorad Dodik in an exclusive interview with the Russian Gazzette. Dodik arrived to Moscow to meet with Vladimir Putin.

He said that energy collaboration with Russia is strategically important for the Republic of Srpska.

“It is clear to us in Banja Luka that there are no alternatives to Russian gas. The Republic of Srpska has serious plans to switch all larger cities to gas, as well as to build gas-powered thermal power stations. Today, the biggest consumer of gas in Bosnia and Herzegovina is mostly Sarajevo, and at privileged prices that we, the Serbs, arranged in Saint Petersburg with our Russian partners. In spite of that, the Bosniaks in Bosnia and Herzegovina are leading an anti-Russian policy and obstructing all of the projects that the Republic of Srpska would like to realize with the Russian Federation,” Dodik believes.

Asked for his assessment of the bilateral relations with the Russian Federation and what might be done to improve them, Dodik pointed out that since its establishment in 1992 the Republic of Srpska has maintained an extremely close cooperation with the Russian Federation, which is a guarantor of the Dayton Peace Agreement.

He stressed that economic collaboration with Russia is of the utmost importance for the Republic of Srpska and the entire Serbian people.

“Mostly within energy projects, where Moscow is our strategic partner. In addition, the Russian Federation is a guarantor of the survival of Serbs in Bosnia and Herzegovina in these unstable and unpredictable times,” said Dodik.

“In my assessment,” Dodik said, “there are a lot of possibilities to advance political and economic relations between the Russian Federation and the Republic of Srpska, especially regarding the less than fully realized potential for cooperation in the fields of culture and education”.

“I was pleased to hear the news that the Russian Federation was abandoning the Bologna education system. I am ware of the problems that we have in this country with a system of higher education that drains knowledge. The Republic of Srpska’s youth should be learning the Russian language to later be able to study at Russian universities. That is the only way to establish deep cultural relations between the Russian and Serbian people, upon which it will then be easy to build political and economic collaboration,” Dodik believes.

He pointed out that the International Economic Forum in Saint Petersburg was an excellent site for political and business meetings.

“The forum is extremely important to me because of the opportunity to meet with Vladimir Putin. The Russian leader fully shares the fight of the Republic of Srpska for its constitutionally guaranteed rights within Bosnia and Herzegovina. I have brought the President of Russia up to speed on the activities of the leadership of Srpska, thanks to which it was possible to prevent Bosnia and Herzegovina from imposing sanctions on the Russian Federation, as Washington and Brussels insisted, and the Bosnians in state institutions supported,” said Dodik.