Chairman of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina Zeljko Komšsic will meet on Monday, with the US Special Envoy for the Western Balkans Gabriel Escobar, who is arriving on his first official visit since he was appointed to the post, it was confirmed for FENA from Chairman Komsic’s office.
It was announced earlier that Escobar should meet with the Speaker and Deputy Speakers of both houses of the Parliamentary Assembly of Bosnia and Herzegovina Bakir Izetbegovic, Dragan Covic, Nikola Spiric (House of Peoples) and Denis Zvizdic, Borjana Kristo and Nebojsa Radmanovic (House of Representatives).
Escobar’s visit comes as political representatives from the entity of Republika Srpska in Bosnia and Herzegovina have been blocking the work of state institutions since July this year, when amendments to the BiH Criminal Code came into force, banning genocide denial and glorifying war criminals.
Milorad Dodik, a member of the BiH Presidency and president of the Alliance of Independent Social Democrats (SNSD), the ruling party from the RS, also announced withdrawal from the state institutions, and according to previous announcements, Escobar does not plan to meet with Dodik.
Shortly before his visit to Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), Gabriel Escobar, deputy assistant secretary at the State Department’s Bureau for European and Eurasian Affairs, mentioned he wanted to tell the country’s citizens that there would be no new war and that Milorad Dodik just wanted to protect his power and money.
Escobar, two days before his arrival in BiH, said in an interview with Radio Free Europe (RFE) that he would first talk to the United States (U.S.) ambassador to the country in Sarajevo, before announcing possible sanctions, without specifying whatsanctions could be used.
“It’s on the table. But I would to tell the people in BiH, there will be no new war. We, the international community, as well as our partners in Europe, want to make sure that our commitment to peace and security for the people of the region is mutual. As for the weakened central institutions, the main cause is corruption. Dodik wants to protect his power and his money. I ask people not to fall for it, ” Escobar pointed out.
Asked by RFE whether he thinks that he is the one who can decisively influence the stopping not only of anti-BiH rhetoricbut also of concrete moves taken by Dodik, Escobar said that no one in the region supports Dodik’s agenda.
“To be honest, Dodik’s agenda is not supported by anyone in the region, not even Serbia, with which we have a partnership. I am not trying to divide Serbs, but you see what we are doing in Serbia, where we support the Open Balkans Initiative (Initiativeof the free movement zone for people and goods between Serbia, Albania, and North Macedonia), which we consider a positive development in the region. We have signed a nearly 1 billion dollars aid package, a new university partnership between Belgrade, one of the best universities, and Budapest, Athens, between the Adriatic and Black Seas – where we have exercises between the Green Berets and the U.S. Marines who train with the Serbian Army. We can do the same for the Serbs in Republika Srpska (RS),” Escobar noted.
Escobar stressed that SNSD leader Milorad Dodik is pushing an alternative message, where he would rather see RS become Transnistria or South Ossetia, only to protect his wealth, as Escobar concluded, citing examples of pro-Russian separatist territories in Moldova and Georgia.