During the three-hour-long government briefing session on December 21, it was nearly overlooked that Viktor Orbán declared the Hungarian government’s support for Bosnian Serb leader Milorad Dodik (pictured). According to news site Azonnali, the Serbian member of Bosnia’s Presidency is working to tear his country apart and endanger peace in the region.
A few days ago, Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó announced that Hungary would not support any EU sanctions on Dodik. Szijjártó’s statement came after Annalena Baerboek, the new German foreign minister, suggested that sanctions be imposed on the Bosnian Serb leader.
Now, Azonnali considers it likely that Orbán will provide €100 million (US $113 million) in aid to Republika Srpska, the Bosnian Serb Republic, to help stabilize the region. The money would be intended for small and medium-sized businesses, but analysts consider it more probable that the entire amount will end up in Dodik’s election coffers.
Orbán has met Milorad Dodik several times recently, but details about their discussions have not be revealed. Experts that the news site talked to see four possibilities for the meetings between the two men: to nurture Dodik’s regional leadership ambitions and his need for other politicians to accept him as a leader, to destable the region at Russia’s request, to explore business opportunities, or to facilitate communication between Dodik and the UN.
But with Szijjártó stating that Hungary will block any joint action from the EU and the Hungarian government preparing to hand over a significant amount of money to a politician who has been working for years to break Bosnia-Herzegovina apart, the bleakest scenarios appear the most likely, writes Azonnali.
What this is really about, believes Goran Katić, a journalist at Radio Free Europe/ Radio Liberty, is the Hungarian government attempting to expand its influence in the Balkans through closer working relationships with regimes similar to Hungary, such as Serbia, Republika Srpska, and Montenegro.
Bosnia will be holding Parliamentary elections in the fall, and Dodik is currently in weak shape politically, with poverty, unemployment, and emigration a serious problem in the county.
The opposition Democratic Progress Party (PDP) seems to be aware of these issues and is focusing on them insted of nationalist rhetoric. Not so long ago, the party managed to snatch Banja Luka, the largest city in Republika Srpska, away from Dodik.