Serb Republic (Republika Srpska / RS) President Milorad Dodik has invited Russian President Vladimir Putin to visit Banja Luka – the largest town of the Serb entity in Bosnia.
Dodik invited Putin to visit during “one of the phases of realizing the project of building the Serb-Russian Orthodox (Christian) Center” – which will see the construction of a Russian Orthodox Church (in the RS) – one offering “various content.”
“We are in the phase of reaching agreement with the Russian Orthodox Church on a project, and the bishop of Banja Luka, Jefrem, has taken this onto himself. We want to see Putin in Banja Luka on the occasion of the opening of the church,” Dodik said, adding that he was “rejoicing the possibility of this happening.”
In an interview for Sputnik, Dodik said he discussed the building of the center with Russian FM Sergei Lavrov in the past, and that the 6,500 square meters of building land have already been donated toward this purpose.
Dodik took part in St. Petersburg International Economic Forum last week, and, commenting on his meeting with Russian officials and Putin, said the talks concerned the fiscal stability of the RS.
“We’ve been talking about it for a period of time. One idea is to collect funds to stabilize our entire system via bonds that would be issued by the RS. We are looking into the ways of doing it. We believe we can do it, and we have also talked about this in Russia with credible people,” Dodik said.
When it comes to forming the so-called “free zones” – announced for Serbia, Dodik said that “this concept was also being developed by the RS.”
“The RS has the problem in the fact that it is in the BiH (Bosnia-Herzegovina) and cannot rule its customs regime and policy in a sovereign manner – therefore we are in a concept of specialized economic zones. We are developing something in this regard,” said Dodik.
According to him, the Russian market “seeks certain goods from this region – but the problem of Serbia and the RS is not having enough in terms of the quantity in demand.”
Dodik stressed that “a high degree of agreement on political relations in the region had been reached with Moscow – while its approach is that of respecting international law and international contracts.”
“Any meddling that goes toward creating some other processes that would cheer for one side against the other in the region means new conflict, a new complexity of the situation. There’s none of that with the Russians. For example, they are united in the approach that the Dayton peace agreement has not only created peace but a new political system that must be respected, as well as the will of the people – that only their engagement could lead to certain processes that would be in their interest,” concluded Dodik.