Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has said that his country is strongly opposed to amendments to the Dayton peace agreement except for those that would envisage the closing down of the Office of the High Representative to Bosnia and Herzegovina (OHR).
The rules determined by the 1995 peace agreement are evidently contrary to somebody's interests and prevent the implementation of guidelines that are being imposed from outside. We do not consider that to be sufficient reason for talks on revising the Dayton agreement, which has been ensuring peace, security and stability in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the region for a quarter of a century, Lavrov said in an interview published in the "Glas Srpske" newspaper of Wednesday.
The Russian minister said that any changes to the Dayton agreement would be acceptable only if the country's three constituent ethnic groups agreed so on an equal footing, but he also confirmed that Russia advocated closing down the OHR as soon as possible, as, he said, its role had long been exhausted.
Lavrov was to have visited Bosnia and Herzegovina on Wednesday but the visit was cancelled because the Russian minister had to self-isolate after coming into contact with people infected with coronavirus.
Ahead of his visit he gave an interview to the Banja Luka-based paper which is controlled by the Bosnian Serb government.
Lavrov said that there was brotherly understanding between Russia and the Serb entity and that Moscow supported the Serb entity's status and powers as defined by the Dayton agreement, noting that the special relations between Moscow and Banja Luka "are not directed against anyone."
Lavrov also said that the relationship between his country and Bosnia and Herzegovina was characterised by "friendly pragmatism, mutual respect and mutual understanding regarding a large number of issues."
He said that Russia would remain a reliable supplier of natural gas for Bosnia and Herzegovina, as has been the case so far.
This statement comes at a time when Bosnia and Herzegovina, with strong support from the USA and the EU, is trying to reduce its dependence on Russian gas by connecting its gas supply network to that in Croatia via Zagvozd in southern Croatia.
As for claims by the USA that Russia was spreading malign influence in the Balkans, Lavrov described them as ill-founded insinuations.
Lavrov claims that Russia bases its relations with the region on norms of international law and in the interest of stability, which, he says, does not suit factors that wish to turn the region into an arena of geopolitical confrontation.
Those are not just clumsy efforts to malign Russia's policy in the Balkans but also to cover up one's own ugly plans, Lavrov said, dismissing the USA's claims about Moscow's destabilising influence on the Balkans, including Bosnia and Herzegovina.