15 December 202015:14

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s opening remarks at a joint news conference following talks with Foreign Minister and Vice-Chair of the Council of Ministers of Bosnia and Herzegovina Bisera Turkovic, Sarajevo, December 15, 2020

2216-15-12-2020

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Ladies and gentlemen,

First of all, I would like to thank our hosts for a warm welcome and say that I am delighted to have the first in-person meeting with Minister Turkovic.

The talks were held in an open and constructive spirit in the traditions of the Russian-Bosnian dialogue. It is symbolic that we made this trip on the 25th anniversary of the Dayton Agreement. This date is very important from the viewpoint of the results and achievements reached during the past 25 years of working towards sustainable peace in the country and the region. On the other hand, it is a good opportunity to take a fresh look at the remaining problems and the importance of settling them while preserving and strengthening the pertinent Dayton principles.

We reaffirmed Russia’s undeviating support of the Dayton Agreement during our talks at the Foreign Ministry and during a meeting with Chairman of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina Milorad Dodik. The agreement ensures the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Bosnia and guarantees the broad constitutional powers of its two entities and the equality of its three constituent peoples.

We see no reason for revising the Dayton Agreement, especially when such initiatives are made by foreign parties. As a guarantor of the Dayton Agreement, Russia is convinced that the people of Bosnia and Herzegovina can independently decide their future in accordance with the constitutional scheme of the division of powers and decision-making, including in the field of foreign policy.

Madam Minister has said that we discussed the institute of the High Representative. Russia believes that it has exhausted its positive potential and has become a restraining factor. There is no added value in the preservation of this form of “protectorate” over Bosnia. Regrettably, some of our colleagues on the Steering Board refuse to recognise this fact and have even proposed nominating new candidates to this position so as to perpetuate it. We regard this as wrong.

I would like to stress that Bosnia and Herzegovina is a multinational state. There is no alternative to internal political dialogue based on mutual respect, compromise and consensus as a basis for its successful functioning.

We have reaffirmed our commitment to the further development of bilateral cooperation in all spheres without exception, including political dialogue. We also mapped out measures to strengthen the legal framework of our relations, in particular in vital spheres such as social protection, mutual protection of investments, avoidance of double taxation, and the development of cultural, educational and academic ties.

We expressed appreciation for our interparliamentary, interagency and interregional relations and agreed to revitalise mutual trade, which has slumped as a result of the coronavirus restrictions. We plan to stimulate the work of the Intergovernmental Commission on Trade and Economic Cooperation and its supplementary groups.

Large Russian companies, such as Zarubezhneftegaz, Gazprom and Sberbank, are working and implementing ambitious projects in Bosnia and Herzegovina. We are pleased that new Russian economic operators are coming to Bosnia, bringing innovative products to this market.

We have mutual interest in promoting our humanitarian cooperation, including in light of the fact that both Russia and Bosnia are multinational and multi-faith countries.

I am glad to note that young people in Bosnia are interested in studying the Russian language and studying in Russia. We will encourage this interest.

In this year of the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II and the establishment of the United Nations, we have reaffirmed our mutual resolve to prevent a revision of the outcome of the war and the glorification of Nazism, Nazis and their accomplices. We are grateful to Bosnia and Herzegovina for its traditional support for the resolution which Russian submits to the UN General Assembly every year.

We discussed the situation in the Balkans as a whole. We share the view on the importance of a regional dialogue based on mutual respect, and the settlement of all problems, of which there are many, by diplomatic and political means. We will provide all-round support to these processes in this important region.

We talked about our interaction at multilateral venues, including the UN, the OSCE and the Council of Europe, as well as about our relations with the EU and NATO. The plan of consultations for the next two years we have just signed will promote our foreign policy collaboration.

Next year we will mark 25 years of diplomatic relations between Russia and Bosnia and Herzegovina. I have invited Madam Minister to make a return visit to Russia.

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