Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban has paid a brief visit to Republika Srpska, the majority entity in Bosnia-Herzegovina, to meet Bosnian Serb leader Milorad Dodik, whose separatist actions have fueled fears the multiethnic Balkan country could split.
Orban’s visit on November 6, which lasted about two hours, comes a day before U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Gabriel Escobar arrives in Sarajevo.
Ahead of the trip, Escobar told RFE/RL that any moves to undermine the country would be "very detrimental and very destabilizing to the region."
The right-wing nationalist Hungarian prime minister, along with Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto, landed at the airport in Banja Luka before going to the nearby town of Laktasi, where the two leaders met for lunch. Reporters were not allowed near the meeting venue.
Dodik, who was accompanied by Radovan Viskovic, the prime minister of Republika Srpska, later told public broadcaster RTRS that the politicians discussed the “current situation in Bosnia.”
“I told him that there is a lot of political spin and misinformation about us -- about Serbs destroying the territorial integrity of Bosnia, which is something we are not doing,” Dodik said.
The Bosnian War ended in 1995 with the U.S.-brokered Dayton accords that created two entities in Bosnia: Republika Srpska and the Bosniak-Croat Federation. The country is still governed and administered along ethnic lines established by the agreement.
Dodik, a member of the country’s three-person presidency, said that he hasn’t been “doing anything that would undermine the Dayton accords.”
However, he has recently threatened to withdraw the Serb territory from national institutions such as the tax authority, medicines agency, and -- most importantly -- the military.
Orban has said in the past that while he “respects” Bosnia-Herzegovina, he also wants direct communications and stronger ties with Republika Srpska.
Last week, Christian Schmidt, the chief UN envoy to Bosnia, issued a warning that Dodik's actions pose an "existential threat" to Bosnia's postwar peace deal.