Bosnia's Serb Republic president voices Crimea-inspired referendum ambitions, says to avoid IMF via Russian loan

By bne IntelliNews April 2, 2014

Bosnia's Serb Republic is advocating for the creation of three different countries linked in a confederation on the Bosnian territory and if an agreement on this is impossible to reach, then it will seek to call a referendum  on its independence, the Republic's President Milorad Dodik said on April 1 as quoted by daily Nezavisne Novine.

"We are not excluding the possibility of the Serb Republic seeking its right at one point in the future to call and carry out a referendum on its status, similar to what we see in the practice of many in Europe," Dodik told a news conference in Banja Luka.

He added the Serb Republic is committed to the peace and to finding a solution for Bosnia via a dialog but without the powers of the international high representative in the country. He refers to a division of the country along ethnic lines - into separate Serb, Croat and Bosniak states.

Dodik underlined the Crimea referendum is legal and legitimate for him. His words does not surprise as he has been advocating for closer ties with Russia and for the separation of the Serb Republic ever since he took power in 2005. The referendum on the status of Crimea has clearly encouraged his radical views ahead of the general elections in Bosnia due in October and he has been openly speaking about a similar referendum in the Serb Republic on a daily basis ever since.

Dodik said that Bosnia did not vote in favour of the annulment of the Crimean referendum in the UN general assembly, concluding that if the authorities do recognise this referendum, they will also recognise theirs.  

Russian credit instead of IMF help

Dodik also said the Serb Republic has received a loan from Russia as it wants to set itself free from any obligations with the IMF. He explained the Republic will draw in the coming days EUR 80mn and an additional EUR 200mn will become available later on, upon request. However, the Russian loan is not new borrowing but only a kind of restructuring that aims to relieve the servicing of the due liabilities, he added.

Dodik described the IMF's attitude towards the Serb Republic as "incorrect", saying the Fund did not assist the entity in solving its debt issues - and this year's debt servicing alone totals BAM 500mn (EUR 256mn).

"This is the most difficult year in a financial sense. Already next year the liabilities drop to BAM 300mn, which only shows that not in a single moment the IMF wanted to ease our situation but only to make it even more complicated," Dodik said. 

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