The meeting was also attended by Aide to the President of Russia Yury Ushakov, Prime Minister of the Republika Srpska entity of Bosnia and Herzegovina Zeljka Cvijanovic and chief representative of the Republika Srpska entity of Bosnia and Herzegovina in Moscow Dusko Perovic.
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President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr President, allow me to welcome you once again.
We have already met earlier this year. I am happy to say that though our absolute trade and economic cooperation figures are rather modest, the turnover is growing, nevertheless: it has gone up by a third recently.
These are hard times both in terms of international relations and in Europe and in the global economy as well. However, relations between our countries have been developing successfully, which is a positive feature of the situation in the region.
I am aware that you are heading for elections. I would like to wish you every success. I know that a large part of the voters support you, this is clear even now.
Only recently, on Sunday we had elections in 84 regions of the Russian Federation – these were the biggest elections in the history of modern Russia: elections to both municipal and regional bodies of power. Many heads of regions of the Russian Federation were elected. Therefore, we have a very good idea of the heated internal political situation ahead of the elections. Nevertheless, elections are always followed by regular work, you are quite an experienced politician and businessman – you know it all quite well.
I am very happy to see you.
President of The REPUBLIKA SRPSKA ENTITY OF BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA MILORAD DODIK (retranslated): Thank you for this opportunity, Mr President. I know you are a very busy man, therefore we value highly the time you have found for us.
Naturally, there is no question that we support Russia. We may be a small and modest community, but our voice is loud. While your support has always been important for us.
We have been to Gazprom during our visit to sign a very important agreement: for the first time we will be receiving gas directly, bypassing intermediaries. We have agreed with Gazprom to set up a joint company (Gazprom will have 60 percent, and our government – 40 percent) and to build a branch of the South Stream gas pipeline.
There is a certain standstill on the part of the authorities in Sarajevo, but I am sure we will resolve this.
We have reached agreement with your Government to sign a direct agreement between the Republika Srpska and the Russian Federation to be approved by the central Parliament of Bosnia and Herzegovina. We will be launching this procedure now.
I have been informed of the concession that we have recently awarded to Zarubezhneft and Gazprom Neft for the development of an oil field on our territory. A certain amount of oil has been discovered there and we are now considering the commercial terms of this project.
We continue our very good cooperation with Zarubezhneft, and there is no doubt that we support all their operations. Sberbank is also very active in our country. Our people like to work with Russian companies, and we will continue supporting projects by various regions of your country.
True, we are facing elections. There are people who want to see change, and they are openly interfering in the pre-election process, but we have already seen this before. As you have correctly said, we have the strongest support among the population. And believe me, the very feeling that Russia understands and supports the Republika Srpska is of great importance for the people.
I am very grateful to you for Russia’s assistance, its political support in particular through its work within the Council to implement the peace agreement for Bosnia and Herzegovina, and, of course, through the UN Security Council. Your principled position regarding the maintenance of international agreements is very helpful. As you probably know, some have tried to amend the Dayton Constitution bit by bit.
Vladimir Putin: Yes, I am aware of it.
Milorad Dodik: They have taken away some 80 of our powers, and we have stopped this. Therefore, the precise, tough position of the Russian Federation that the Dayton Agreement should be maintained is of great importance to us.
We have recently had two severe floods. They cost us an entire annual budget – about one billion euros, which is huge money for us. We have spoken to you earlier in St Petersburg regarding the possibility of providing financial aid to us. I fully understand the situation the Russian Federation is in now, but this would be our only chance to overcome what has happened to us. I am very grateful for your understanding.
Vladimir Putin: Thank you.
I would like to express hope that we will continue working in the same way we are doing now. I am referring to the constructive relations that we have developed in the latest period of our cooperation.