Dodik's response to Georgia's protest note: "So what"
Georgia has lodged a protest note over the visit of South Ossetia's President Anatoly Bibilov to the Serb Republic (RS), Sputnik is reporting on Wednesday.Source: Sputnik
Bibilov was in Banja Luka, the largest town of the Serb entity in Bosnia-Herzegovina (BiH), for the January 9 RS Day celebration.
After his meeting with Bibilov, RS President Milorad Dodik said that the RS and South Ossetia have "similar destinies, and a legitimate right to cooperate."
When he was told that Georgia had sent a protest to BiH because of Bibilov's visit, Dodik replied: "Alright, so what."
"The government of Georgia does not have a friendly attitude toward the RS, we know that, and neither do we have one toward it, because we think cooperation with legitimate republic and nations represents decent and normal communication. I expected them to commend us, not to react in that way. As far as I'm aware, the (South Ossetian) president is visiting the Serb Republic, not Bosnia-Herzegovina," Dodik said, according to Sputnik.
Bibilov for his part added that he thought "relations should be developed with friendly nations without asking for anyone's permission - especially not from Georgia, who was literally recently destroying the people of South Ossetia."
Dodik stressed that it was his duty to gather all its friend around the RS, and added that "many were here yesterday for the RS Day celebration."
In this context, he "expressed his gratitude to the President of Serbia, but also to the leader of Austria's FPO party (and Austrian Vice-Chancellor), Hans Christian Strache" whom he said he would visit soon.
The presence of Russia's ambassador at the celebration also "speaks a lot," Dodik said.
"Others were invited too, but they decided the way they did. We took very good note of that," the RS leader said, describing the no-shows as "rude and undiplomatic."
Dodik mentioned Switzerland's ambassador as an example, saying that she "not only failed to come, but also presented her opinion that there should be one holiday in BiH."
"That tells you how little she is acquainted with the situation. I did not ask for her opinion at all. I invited her to the ceremony," Dodik said.
Bibilov noted that Georgia's ambassador in Ankara - who is also the country's ambassador to BiH - referred to BiH, not the RS.
"I did not come to BiH, I came to the RS holiday. Perhaps the ambassador doesn't have the correct information concerning my whereabouts. I am here," the South Ossetian leader said, speaking in Banja Luka.
The Beta agency is reporting that South Ossetia has 53,000 inhabitants and that it declared independence from Georgia in 1991 - recognized only by Russia.