Ambassador of the Russian Federation in Croatia, Anvar Azimov, talked about relations of Russia and the President of the RS Milorad Dodik, Serbia, NATO and the EU as well as other current topics.
Do you see the possibility of problems in BiH? Is Russian policy unprincipled? Is Russia political and military ally of Milorad Dodik, the President of the RS, who is announcing the possible secession of BiH?
I do not believe that there will be some big changes. Russia firmly respects the Dayton Agreement. All three nations in BiH must have the same rights. Russia will never allow the demolition of the Dayton Agreement. I worked in the apparatus of the High Representative in BiH. For Croatia, BiH is the closest neighbor and partner and we will do everything possible on our part to consolidate BiH. When it comes to Dodik, we have a special relationship, we have extensive trade relationship. Our president knows him well, however, we will never support the actions of the President of the RS on bringing down the balance and destabilization of the situation. People who dealt with Dayton will not allow it.
How do you see the global relations of NATO and Russia?
First of all I must say that we are interested in cooperation with NATO. We do not look at NATO as some kind of opponent, but as partner in terms of ensuring security in Europe. Recent statements by the Secretary General of NATO show that NATO is not watching Russia as a threat. But, it is not understandable why NATO is trying to get closer to Russia’s borders, if we are not a threat. I state that Russia is a peaceful country, we do not want to threaten Europe, and we want to be part of Europe.
We wanted to be part of NATO and the EU, but they did not accept us because they are afraid of us and see us as a threat. We are sure that Russia and the European Union, after lifting of sanctions, can create a unique trade market and we will have great opportunities for economic integration. Russia and the EU are closely linked together. When the Warsaw Pact was off, we expected that NATO will fall apart as well, but that did not happen. We do not want any confrontation with the EU or NATO. We are determined to be together. And we should not forget that Russia is a powerful economic force in the world. Our territory is three times larger than the entire European Union. We want to be together with you.
Is Russia planning to actively assist Serbia and what was the purpose of joint military exercises?
These military exercises were planned in advance, they were the Russian- Serbian-Belorussian exercises. We are helping Serbia in the military and technical sense. Russia is ready to provide military help to Croatia as well, but membership in NATO will not allow it. Serbia is our ally, but we will respect the decision of Serbia to join the EU and NATO, if it comes to that. We are confident that the membership of any of the Balkan countries into the EU and NATO should not be an obstacle for good relations with Russia. Russia will always be a key player. Russia saved the Balkans at least three times. During the World War II, the Soviet Union was the one who saved Yugoslavia from the Nazis. And now, unfortunately, we see that our activity in the Balkans is reduced. We do not want to compete in the Balkans with the EU or NATO, we want partnership, we want cooperation, and I believe that we can help the Balkan countries in the solution of their problems together. Russia wants to normalize relations between Serbia and Croatia. Putin supports this idea, he want the Balkans to become a peaceful and stable region. And Russia, as well as the EU and NATO, should be the guarantee . We want to concentrate on trading partnership, cooperation in the economic sphere. The European Union, NATO, the United States and Russia must work together. We do not want to look at each other as opponents, but as partners.