Dodik wants Serbia to give passports to Serbs abroad

BELGRADE -- RS President Milorad Dodik believes it would be good to allow Serbs from abroad to be elected as deputies in the Serbian parliament in Belgrade.

(Tanjug, file)
(Tanjug, file)

Dodik, who heads the Serb Republic (RS) entity in Bosnia-Herzegovina, recently received a Serbian passport, and in an interview for the Belgrade-based daily Danas noted that he asked for a permanent "liberalization" of the process of granting Serbian passport - "because Serbs in the RS want Serbian citizenship."

He expressed gratitude to Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vučić for making sure he became a citizen "under accelerated procedure" - but noted he though the procedure "should be even faster."

"I think every Serb should obtain Serbian citizenship, so we can show our commitment to the mother country that we consider our homeland," Dodik said, adding that he always felt bad when traveling with his Bosnian passport.

"When I go somewhere with the passport of Bosnia-Herzegovina, people always looking at me strangely. Once I went to the United States via the Netherlands where I was searched at the airport. When I told them I was traveling to a meeting at the State Department, I became even more suspicious. The flight was delayed 45 minutes," he said.

Noting that his Serbian citizenship gives him the opportunity to participate in Serbian elections, to vote and be elected, Dodik pointed out that he was "primarily a citizen of the RS" - but saw no reason why Serbia would not act like other countries, such as Croatia, that has a quota in its parliament for deputies from Croat communities living abroad.

"When there are elections in Croatia you can see billboards showing candidates in Banja Luka (RS). I know a Croat woman from Banja Luka who lives there, and was elected to the Croatian parliament. Not to mention the Hungarians. I do not see why Serbia would not launch changes of the electoral law, to enable quotas. Regardless of how many of us come out to vote, that quota could be four or five deputies for the RS, two or three for Montenegro, one of Macedonia and Western Europe each... that would be a good message from the Serbian leadership. Since there has been talk about amending the Constitution, this could also be considered," said Dodik.

The RS president does not believe that an investigation into the war crimes committed by ethnic Albanians against Serbs in Kosovo, led by Clint Williamson, will result in an indictment against Hashim Thaci - because, in his opinion, "there has not been enough engagement until now, and because of the passage of time."

Dodik pointed out that the only novelty in the Williamson statemennt presented on Monday was "recognition from such a high place that there is reasonable doubt that organ trafficking took place."

"Obviously, there is evidence that it did. Dick Marty also had the evidence, but he was prevented from conducting an investigation, Carla del Ponte also had it. Many Serbs are judged on the basis of collective responsibility. (Former RS President) Biljana Plavšić, who had nothing to do with crimes but held office, was sentenced. Now (in the case of the KLA) a huge amount of evidence is needed," he remarked.

Dodik believes that western countries will increasingly seek to soften the Serbian side, and then "at the most difficult moment demand recognition of Kosovo in exchange for full membership in the EU."

"They will not grant Serbia membership regardless of the reforms that it carries out. I think the actors in Serbia are clear on this being a requirement regardless of the fact that Kosovo is not recognized by the whole EU, and that the EU is violating its own principles. How would one explain the fact the EU is working on the Stabilization and Association Agreement with Kosovo, while five EU countries have not recognized Kosovo? The games of the big (countries) are clear. Sometimes I do not understand what their great interest is... Today I felt sick to my stomach when I read that (former German Chancellor) Schroeder said he regretted supporting the 1999 (NATO) bombing (of Serbia)," he said.

Dodik also believes that the EU is "heterogeneous" when it comes to Russia and possible pressures on Serbia with regard to the country's relations with Moscow.

"Russia has a right to defend its national interests. If the French were able to defend their interests in some far-off destinations, in Libya for example, why would Russia not defend its people, several tens of millions out there? In any event, they wish to set up a challenge for Serbia. I think its leadership is not having an easy time. The hypocrisy of some important ambassadors who seek recognition of Ukraine along with Crimea, while Kosovo is a striking example of a different policy, speaks about the hypocrisy of the great powers. I am convinced that Serbia will not introduce any sanctions against Russia and side with the west. The crisis in Ukraine will pass, while sanctions against of Serbia against Russia would not be forgotten. It would be a luxury for Serbia to impose sanctions against a friendly country like Russia," said Dodik.

When it comes to the conflict in the Gaza Strip, it is known that the RS has developed relations with Israel, and Dodik "does not hide that he was the first to say that Israel has a right to defend itself and resist terrorist attacks."

"I was the first to say that, later we could hear Obama, Merkel and other leaders use the same phrase... Of course, I sympathize and I am distressed by the scenes of suffering on both sides. I said that peace should be achieved as soon as possible. Israel is developing very friendly relations with us. The RS and Israel find themselves in similar environments. With the environment from Sarajevo, we have an almost identical problem, of course, no rockets and conflicts, that is in the past. A homogenization of the Muslim population is taking place. (Bakir) Izetbegović's statement that Muslims have to be strong to be appreciated is a message is for us, too. Israel is our ally and a friend who respects us," said Dodik.