Russian Parliamentarian’s Speech Received with Mixed Reactions

The speech of a senior Russian parliamentarian in Bosnian parliament in Sarajevo cast more light on the country’s persisting divisions, with some Bosnian lawmakers criticizing Russia’s views on Bosnia and others pledging to prevent the country from joining the European Union sanctions against Russia.

Valentina Matviyenko, speaker of the Russian parliament’s upper house, arrived for a two-day visit to Bosnia and Monday and gave a speech in the upper house of Bosnia’s parliament. She said Russia backs the provisions of the 1995 peace deal that ended the Bosnian war of the nineties and split the country into two largely autonomous entities. However, the presence of an international peace deal overseer is no longer necessary, according to the Russian parliamentarian.

Matviyenko also spoke against further NATO enlargement in the region.

“Montenegro’s joining NATO against the will practically of half of its citizens has become the harshest violation of the basic principles of modern democracy,” Matviyenko said, reported Reuters.

Macedonia was also trying the “same dangerous experiment”, she said.

“This step is leading only towards further destabilization of the situation in the region. It undermines the system of European security.”

Bosnia hopes to activate a NATO Membership Action Plan, but its plans for the membership of the alliance are blocked by Bosnian Serbs who see Russia as their main ally.

“Ms. Matviyenko spoke about the United States foreign policy, which is completely inappropriate on this occasion, describing the policy in many, mostly inappropriate ways,” said Halid Genjac, a member of the Bosnian House of Peoples, after he left the parliament chamber mid-Matviyenko speech.

“What was particularly inappropriate and intolerable – she directly touched upon Bosnia’s internal maters by speaking about the positions of the Constitutional Court, the (state) prosecutor’s office etc.”, the Bosniak lawmaker said.

Valentina Matviyenko pays respects at the Eternal Flame monument in central Sarajevo

The Serb speaker of the House of Peoples, Ognjen Tadić, told a press conference he held with Matviyenko that Bosnia will refrain from joining sanctions against Russia. He said that the two countries share an interest of bolstering bilateral relations at the level of parliaments, but at other levels as well.

“That is helped by Russia’s principled position on respecting the Dayton agreement, and by (the country’s) active role in the Peace Implementation Council and in the UN Security Council,” said Tadić.

Matviyenko will address the Republika Srpska Assembly in Banja Luka on Tuesday. Her visit plans didn’t include an address in the parliament of Bosnia’s other entity, the Federation.

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