Bosnian Serb leader laments 'deficit of global leadership'
Problems facing the world demand statesmanship from serious leaders who simply don’t exist in the West, Milorad Dodik, the Serb member of the Bosnia-Herzegovina presidency, complained on Thursday. Russia's Vladimir Putin, Chinese leader Xi Jinping – and Turkish head-of-state Recep Tayyip Erdogan, to some extent – are the only leaders who can currently influence global affairs, Dodik said.
“There’s a serious deficit of leadership on the global scene. There are few leaders who can make decisions. Don’t tell me there are powerful persons in the West who can solve global issues with their involvement. I think there are maybe two or three serious leaders – President Putin, Xi, and maybe Erdogan,” Dodik said at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF).
Problems currently troubling the world require “a strong response from strong leaders,” Dodik argued, “statesmen who can ignore the everyday noise to make far-reaching decisions whose benefits may only be felt by future generations.”
Dodik, a social-democrat who has shaped Bosnian politics since 2006, brought to Russia some of the lessons of the 1990s Balkan wars, which carved up Yugoslavia and established Western-backed protectorates in its stead.
“The West wants to have countries be its vassals or wards, nothing else. That’s unprecedented in history. But I think that system has just crashed,” he told the panel in St. Petersburg, pointing to the example of Bosnia as a de facto protectorate.
Since the end of the civil war in 1995, the country has had a “high representative” who imposes laws and even amends the constitution, Dodik noted, calling that office “a synonym for failure of that liberal American world, which in 27 years with that power and military presence … has not managed to fix or stabilize Bosnia.”
Russia refused to be a vassal but offered to be a partner instead, Dodik said, and was rejected – which is why the current conflict in Ukraine isn’t between Moscow and Kiev, but a “a global contest of wills, in which those who allegedly aren’t taking part – the West – wish to win.” Except the West also wants to officially stay out of the war, so they seek victory by sending weapons to Kiev and “fighting to the last Ukrainian,” he added.
Urging a swift end to the violence, Dodik blamed the “irresponsible” Ukrainian government that “fell for the Western narratives” of a better life as a member of the EU and NATO. “Of course, that was all a lie no one could actually make true,” he said.
The Bosnian Serb leader pointed out that the West now insists on the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine but didn’t care for them in the case of Serbia, when it “carved out” the province of Kosovo in 1999, declared its independence in 2008, and now demands Belgrade recognize it as such.
Meanwhile, the West accuses Moscow of “malign influence” in the Balkans, but “it wasn’t the Russians bombing us with depleted uranium,” Dodik said, or shutting down all dissent while professing to believe in free speech and property rights.
Dodik’s insistence on Serb sovereignty in Bosnia in line with the 1995 peace accords has put him at odds with Western capitals, with the US and later the UK putting him on their sanctions blacklist claiming his “rhetoric” was undermining the peace.