Bosnian Serbs ‘Honoured’ to Present Orban With Entity’s Top Award

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban will receive the Order of Republika Srpska during his visit to Bosnia on Thursday and Friday, joining Vladimir Putin in the recipients’ club.

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban is paying a two-day visit to Bosnia and Herzegovina, where he will visit the capital Sarajevo and receive a top award from Republika Srpska, RS, the country’s Serb-dominated entity. Announcing Orban’s visit to Banja Luka, the president of the RS, Milorad Dodik, said “a big and true friend is coming to visit.”

“We have very concrete projects and we have concrete conversations about how we cooperate and respect the leadership that Orban has shown,” Dodik said in a post. “He is one of the strongest European leaders now within the European Union and… it is an honour for us,” he added.

During his visit to Banja Luka in the RS, Orban will receive the Order of Republika Srpska, awarded on the Day of Republika Srpska celebration on January 9, a controversial celebration of the anniversary of the foundation of the entity.

“The Prime Minister of Hungary… has agreed to receive Republika Srpska’s highest decoration. This is a source of pride for Republika Srpska and of gratitude towards a man who is willing to acknowledge us as a legitimate political entity,” Dodik said during the award ceremony in January.

The award was given to Russian President Vladimir Putin in 2023.

On arrival in Sarajevo, Orban will meet Bosnia’s foreign minister, Elmedin Konakovic, and the chair of Bosnia’s Council of Ministers, the prime minister, Borjana Kristo.

On Friday, Republika Srpska and Hungary will hold a joint Economy Forum in Banja Luka, where 23 Hungarian companies have announced their participation.

Dodik and Orban have a long-standing partnership. During his 2021 private visit to Dodik’s estate near Banja Luka, Orban promised 100 million euros of financial aid to the entity as part of Hungary’s Responsible Neighbourhood policy, to enhance stability in the region.

Following up on the promise, Hungarian Foreign and Trade Minister Peter Szijjarto met the Bosnian Serb leader to follow up on the first round of disbursement of 35 million euros in June 2022.

Dodik can also count on Hungary for providing the most support among the EU countries. As far as its policy in the Western Balkans is concerned, the Hungarian government dances to Putin’s tune, doing everything it can to save RS from bankruptcy, while Orban has repeatedly declared he will block any EU move to impose sanctions against Dodik.

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