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    In this photo taken on Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2016. Bosnian man passes by flags of Bosnia's Serb mini state Republic of Srpska and t-shirt with photos of Russian President Vladimir Putin in the Bosnian town of Banja Luka, 240 kms (150 miles) northwest of the Bosnian capital Sarajevo

    EXCLUSIVE: Bosnian Rivalry Yields Referendum, but 'It's Not Secession'

    © AP Photo / Radivoje Pavicic
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    The planned referendum in Bosnia's Serb-dominated entity Republika Srpska will be all about defending democratic rights rather than secession, Republika Srpska's President Milorad Dodik told Sputnik.

    In an exclusive interview with Sputnik, Milorad Dodik, President of Bosnia's Serb-dominated entity Republika Srpska, said that the planned national referendum there is aimed at upholding democratic rights, not secession.

    The interview came in the run-up to Dodik's meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow, where the topic is expected to be high on the agenda.

    During the September 25 referendum, participants will have to answer a single question: about whether they support the celebration of the Day of Republika Srpska on January 9.

    In November 2015, Bosnia's state-run Constitutional Court ruled that the entity's annual statehood celebration on January 9 is unconstitutional.

    In this photo taken on Wednesday, Sep. 21, 2016. Bosnian woman passes by poster for Sundays referendum in the Bosnian town of Banja Luka, 240 kms (150 miles) northwest of the Bosnian capital Sarajevo , Bosnia
    © AP Photo / Radivoje Pavicic
    In this photo taken on Wednesday, Sep. 21, 2016. Bosnian woman passes by poster for Sundays referendum in the Bosnian town of Banja Luka, 240 kms (150 miles) northwest of the Bosnian capital Sarajevo , Bosnia

    The September 25 referendum will seek public support for the Day of Republika Srpska, which it hopes will continue to be celebrated on January 9, the day the Serb-dominated entity was formed under the leadership of Radovan Karadzic just before war broke out in 1992.

    On September 17, the holding of the referendum was banned by Bosnia's Constitutional Court. Moscow has, for its part, repeatedly called for a consensus to be reached on the matter, warning against demanding concessions only from the Republika Srpska.

    Banja Luka,the largest city of the Republika Srpska entity and second largest city in Bosnia and Herzegovina after the capital Sarajevo
    © Wikipedia / Rade Nagraisalovic (Tonka)
    Banja Luka, the largest city of the Republika Srpska entity and second largest city in Bosnia and Herzegovina after the capital Sarajevo

    Asked about the purpose of the referendum, Milorad Dodik said that the referendum is a reaction to the actions by Bakir Izetbegovic, the Bosniak member of the tripartite Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

    According to Dodik, Izetbegovic "showed and proved that the Constitutional Court only sticks to his decisions."

    "The Republika Srspka showed that it is ready for dialogue and partnership, not for the role of the subjugated side. We will continue to defend our interests, which are in no way directed against the others. This is not a referendum on secession as some can imagine," Dodik said, referring to ambassadors of Western countries.

    He also made it plain that if Sarajevo tries to resort to the use of force, Republika Srspka will immediately withdraw from Bosnia and Herzegovina.

    "Even for a second we would not stay in a state which would use violence against us," he pointed out.

    He also said that the West's policy on Bosnia and Herzegovina is only aimed at upholding the interests of the Bosniak side, something that hinders the reconciliation process.

    "Western ambassadors consider themselves masters and rulers in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and they are fully on the side of the Bosniaks. Such a policy hampers the process of reconciliation of peoples," Dodik said, adding that the West wants to see only  obedient politicians who will implement its decisions.

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    Tags:
    secession, celebration, rights, referendum, statehood, Milorad Dodik, Respublika Srpska, Bosnia and Herzegovina
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