BANJA LUKA, Bosnia-Herzegovina (AP) — Separatist politician Milorad Dodik was sworn in Tuesday as president of Bosnia’s Serb-run part, pledging to pursue good ties with Russia, China and other like-minded countries.
Dodik said during the inauguration ceremony Tuesday that Bosnian Serbs “have our Serbia, our Russia and our (other) partners in Hungary, China.”
On the other hand, Dodik singled out the United Kingdom and Germany as countries working against Bosnian Serbs and their interests.
Dodik was elected president of Bosnia’s Serb-run part, Republika Srpska, in a general election held in October.
Prior to the election, he served as a member of Bosnia’s multi-ethnic presidency that also includes a Bosniak and a Croat official.
Dodik has been the most influential Bosnian Serb leader for nearly two decades despite being sanctioned by the West for advocating the separation of Republika Srpska from the rest of the country.
Russia has backed Dodik, fueling fears in the West that Moscow might try to create further instability in the volatile Balkan nation to divert some attention from its war in Ukraine.
Separatist ambitions among ethnic Serbs sparked Bosnia’s devastating 1992-95 war, which killed more than 100,000 people, displaced millions and shattered the country for years to come. A U.S.-brokered peace agreement that ended the war created the Serb and Bosniak-Croat entities.
They’re linked by shared, state-wide institutions, and all actions at a national level require consensus from all three ethnic groups.