[November 8, 2007] Sebastian Aulich: Earlier this year International Court of Justice cleared Serbia of accusations of any direct involvement in genocide in Bosnia during the 1990s. According to the Court, Serbia did not supply arms to Bosnian Serbs, neither incited hatred nor in any way actively participated in the killings. It is hard to understand this
decision, mainly because at that time there was the arms embargo imposed on the region by the U.N. Security Council, however despite it, Bosnian Serbs were the only side of the conflict, which continued to be militarily very well equipped during the whole conflict. Was this judgment rendered because Bosnia failed to provide convincing evidence of collaboration between Serbia and Republika Srpska or the decision was simply unjust and the international community once again made a mistake?
Dr. Haris Silajdzic: This judgment is obviously unjust. As for evidence, some of it was a hundred meters away in other courts, and there was a deal not to disclose the information. There was a deal with the government of
Serbia. So the evidence was not there, and obviously the whole world knows that it was Milosevic’s regime that instigated the aggression, ethnic cleansing and genocide.
SA: So you are disappointed with this judgment, you do not think that it reflects the facts? Do Bosniaks consider
it as injustice?
HS: Of course it is injustice and very dangerous message to the world that you can commit genocide, then wait some time and you can get away with it. I am also disappointed with another decision, particularly that by the European Commission, which gave green light to Serbia to begin the process of integration with the European Union, despite the fact that the same verdict that you mentioned, sentenced Serbia because they did not deliver the
war criminals. They gave the green light to Serbia and stopped Bosnia. Obviously because of Kosovo. They want to seal the deal for Kosovo. These are very difficult issues.
SA: Do you think that different approach toward Bosnia and Herzegovina by the European Union is somehow
influenced by the fact that there are too many Muslims in Bosnia and Herzegovina and this is why the EU prefers to admit Serbia in the first place and only after that Bosnia and Herzegovina?
HS: Well, I don’t want to think that it is true. However there are indications that some people have this in mind too. Because if the final result will be that the Bosnian Serbs will have Serbia’s passports, there will be in the EU. On the other side, you have Bosnian Croats, who have Croatia’s passports. As a result, the Muslims would be left out, which is hard to understand.
SA: You mentioned Kosovo. It may happen soon that Kosovo will declare its independence. In reaction to that some
of the Bosnian Serbs’ leaders said that Republika Srpska may declare independence as well. What would happen with Bosnia and Herzegovina in such situation? Is another military conflict possible?
HS: Yes. Republika Srpska is created by the ethnical cleansing and genocide. And as you know it was possible because we had embargo on defending ourselves. The arms embargo imposed by the U.N. Security
Council helped the fascist forces to kill tens of thousands of people, innocent people, civilians. Now, if international community is ready to compensate Belgrade on Kosovo in Bosnia, it would mean that we would pay double price of
the cataclysm because of the Milosevic’s regime – its aggression would be rewarded. Milosevic is dead, but his project is very much alive. Unfortunately, may be inadvertently, that project is being completed right now.
SA: Do you believe that there are concrete political plans that Serbia would be compensated for losing Kosovo by
acquiring Republika Srpska?
HS: That would be a catastrophic policy, of course. Kosovo will be independent and probably on the 10th of December will declare independence. Recognitions of Kosovo would follow in January and February, if the deal is not reached at the Security Council. But that shouldn’t have anything to do with Bosnia and Herzegovina. Bosnia and Herzegovina has suffered enough and is still suffering. I hope the reason will prevail and that Belgrade will be told not to interfere in the Bosnian affairs. We had, 7 days ago, a demarche by the Ambassadors in Belgrade, telling Serbians exactly: “don’t interfere”, which was good. Then one week later, we have the European Commission actually reversing it and saying to Serbia that you are allowed to do practically everything.
SA: So what would actually happen if Republika Srpska declared independence?
HS: There would be no legal grounding for that. There would be another aggression and we will defend our country that has existed for one thousand years. We would have another catastrophe there, in our region.
SA: One of the preconditions for Bosnia and Herzegovina for entering into agreement with the European Union
leading to possible accession has been the reform of country’s police. For now the police in Republika Srpska and the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina operate almost as separate entities. If there is no political consensus to
implement the reform, will Bosnia give up its ambitions of entering the EU?
HS: The Bosnian Serbs have refused every attempt to reform the police forces. Now again, Bosnia and Herzegovina is being held responsible for that.
SA: We have now 12th anniversary of Dayton Peace Accords, which created present form of Bosnia and Herzegovina. From the perspective of those years, can you say that Dayton Agreement was a
good political solution for the region or not? It seems like Bosnia and Herzegovina continue to experience the same kind of problems as 12 years ago with the same kind of disintegrating forces.
HS: Well, Dayton agreement itself was a good thing, because it brought peace. I hope that the American government will continue to be involved. The problem is that we have not implemented the Dayton
Agreement and that the policies of obstruction have been allowed to do that for 12 long years.
SA: So you do believe that under Dayton Agreement the reconciliation between Bosniaks and Bosnian Serbs is
HS: Of course. However, if they are receiving encouragement from international community, like that we saw from
the European Union in case of Serbia, and if the war criminals can actually evade justice for 12 long years, then it is a very bad message.
SA: Do you believe that the United States is doing enough in the region to help apprehend war criminals like Karadzic and Mladic?
HS: I do not know more than you do and I don’t know why they are not caught. But in any case, obviously the
American nation is busy elsewhere. And like I said, I hope that they remain involved because this is an American project and it can be made successful.
SA: The country has now a Constitution which created a body of a rotating presidency of the representatives from the 3 ethnic groups. It is a legal concept unknown to any European democratic system, which moreover does not emerge from the history and experiences of the region. Can Bosnia and Herzegovina develop or even survive
with such kind of Constitution?
HS: You are right. This is a system that is not functional, of course, however that system is not meant to remain forever. We must change it. It’s not only that we have the three presidents, but our Constitution has other deficiencies like discrimination. For example we have a foreign minister right now, who comes from my party, Party for Bosnia and Herzegovina, and he is Jewish. And according to our Constitution he cannot run for the president, because he does not belong to the three main groups. That is discrimination. We must make it right, our
Constitution must be in line with other democratic constitutions in the world.
SA: What kind of constitutional proposals do you have? How the Constitution should be shaped or re-written?
HS: Well, my vision of Bosnia’s Constitution is that Bosnia comprises of economic regions, no ethnic regions. So the ethnical principle should go away, because it is not natural to Bosnia. Bosnia is an example of tolerance and co-existence for hundreds of years. I would like to see the natural regions, not the entities based on ethnic principle.
SA: What is the purpose of your visit in the United States?
HS: This visit is to touch the base with the Congress. We have not been working well with the Congress. We want to inform people of the Congress about what is going on in the region, what are the dangers and situation in Kosovo and so on.
SA: Do you believe that Bosnia and Herzegovina will eventually enter the European Union?
HS: Yes, eventually Bosnia and Herzegovina will enter the European Union, because the whole region needs to
enter the European Union and NATO. However giving green light to the perpetrators of genocide and stopping the victims is not a good way forward.
SA: Do you believe that Bosnia an Herzegovina will enter NATO as well?
HS: Yes, I do. We will enter NATO, even before we enter the European Union. That’s for sure. We have already
begun the process, which will lead to the membership in NATO alliance.