Russia has been radically intervening in the internal affairs of Bosnia-Herzegovina, the leader of the largest Bosniak party said on Wednesday.
The president of the Party of Democratic Action (SDA), Bakir Izetbegovic evaluated the controversial official visit of the Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov to Bosnia on Monday and Tuesday.
He emphasized that Russia offers selective support to the leaders of the Republika Srpska (RS), the ethnic Serb-dominated half of the country, no matter what they do.
"Lavrov's mistake is not to respect the symbols and laws of Bosnia-Herzegovina. With this behavior, he provoked Dzaferovic and Komsic," said Izetbegovic in the capital Sarajevo, referring to Bosnia’s Muslim and Croat representatives in the country’s three-member presidency.
Lavrov, who arrived in Bosnia on Monday, first traveled to East Sarajevo in Republika Srpska and met with Serbian representatives, where no Bosnia-Herzegovina flag was on display.
Sefik Dzaferovic, a Bosniak member of the Presidential Council of Bosnia-Herzegovina, and Zeljko Komsic, a Croat member, boycotted a meeting with Lavrov on Tuesday in a major snub to Moscow’s top diplomat.
The two said they boycotted the meeting because of what they said is Lavrov’s "disrespect" of the country.
They said that Lavrov should have started his official visit in Bosnia-Herzegovina's capital, Sarajevo, instead of first meeting Milorad Dodik, a Serb member of the presidency, in the Serb semi-autonomous half of the country on Monday.
Dodik, who is known for his staunch pro-Russian stance, has been advocating the separation of Bosnian Serbs and their joining neighboring Serbia. Although Moscow formally does not support Bosnia-Herzegovina's breakup, it has never openly criticized Dodik’s separatist policies.
Komsic said the meeting was rejected because Lavrov showed disrespect of Bosnia-Herzegovina at the press conference late on Monday, where there was no Bosnian flag and where he hailed Dodik’s comments that Bosnia-Herzegovina will remain militarily neutral and will never join NATO.
"Lavrov knows that only the state can make such decisions," Komsic said at a joint press conference with Dzaferovic. "With respect to the Russian Federation as a big and powerful country, we will not agree to become a Russian pawn in the Balkans in their games and conflicts with the (European Union) countries or NATO member countries. We expect them to understand and support this," Komsic said.
The Russian foreign minister’s visit coincided with the 25th anniversary of the signing of the U.S.-mediated Dayton peace agreement that ended a four-year war in Bosnia-Herzegovina in the 1990s.
Although the deal ended the bloodshed, it left the country largely dysfunctional and divided in half between the ethnic Serb-dominated Republika Srpska and the Muslim-Croat Federation.