Interview with Harith Silagetch, the former Bosnian prime minister , The war scenario will not reoccur.
Khaled Taha from Doha: Dr Harith Silagetch the former prime minister of Bosnia and Herzegovina described the constitutional reforms in his country as cosmetic and artificial. Dayton Accords, he said, keep the same prevailing conditions in Bosnia. He even stressed that such reforms stand in the way of true changes. Human rights in Bosnia, he added, are being violated up to now, this is clearly evidenced by the fact that half a million Muslim refugees, who left their own homes and properties in the part inhabited by the Bosnian Serbs in war time 92-95, have not returned back yet. There are daily measures taken to prevent them from their legal right to return home. He ruled out the reoccurrence of war scenario. He alluded that he will run for the coming presidential elections in October, stressing (in case he won) that he will maintain the unity of Bosnia, and he will push forward the economy’s pace.
Silagitich said our relationship with Arabic and Islamic world is weak adding that the matter is in our hands and we hope to improve this relation as soon as possible. As for the current parties in the Bosnian arena they are 47 parties, only 7 are active. Ilaf seized the opportunity of Silagitich’s presence in Qatar and conducted an interview with him.
- After the end of war at al-Balkan territory, how do you see the Muslim situation, taking into consideration that you come between Serbia and Croatia?
Bosnia and Herzegovina suffered occupation in the early 1990s, it was a war due to a foreign occupation in 1995 not a civil war as some claimed. Cease-fire took place as a result of Dayton Accords and we made some concessions to achieve peace. Now and after ten years, emigrants returned to their places which witnessed ethnic cleansing, but they are very few. The republic of Bosnia, constituting a part of Bosnia and Herzegovina, is inhabited by 8% of Serb; this means the ethnic cleansing has succeeded, and as to jobs there is only one Bosnian in every 100 of Serbian employees.
- What about the security situation in Bosnia nowadays?
It is good and irreproachable.
- Some people see that war scenario may reoccur, is it true?
I did not think so, because Belgrade regime was the cause of war and it had powerful armies (the fourth army in Europe in terms of tanks and aircrafts), however they were defeated in Bosnia and I think they have no intention to plunge into war again, moreover, they always talk about separation from Bosnia and Herzegovina.
- As for the separation of Serbia from Bosnia, do you think it is in favor of Muslims or not?
Serb of Bosnia does not represent an independent republic as it is the case with Montenegro but it is a part of Bosnia and Herzegovina Republic.
- What about your party platform?
Our platform is to maintain unity of Bosnia and save it against being divided into racial parts.
- Is your party a religious-based one?
Actually No, but it is a multiple party system that includes Muslim and non-Muslim Bosnia’s citizens.
- Why did you oppose the constitutional reforms in Bosnia?
There are some parties, supported by foreign powers, seek after these reforms and consider them good because they are in their favor. Moreover, there are some independent members of parliament and parties voted against these reforms because we deem them artificial and cosmetic, rather being essential. They do not change the current situation resulted by Dayton Accords. Hence I decided with my parties’ members to change the constitution basically; in fact such artificial reforms stand in the way of true change.
- What about joining Europe Union?
The procedures are still going on, and we have achieved a lot in terms of reform. I think that Bosnia is better than many states that are going to join EU. Our country was an industrial base and still has its natural and human resources.
- Is there any definite date for joining?
I think it will be in 2008.
- You’ve previously declared that you will run for the Bosnian presidential elections, what are your priorities?
I decided to participate especially after Peoples’ insistence, and in case I win the elections, I will work for achieving two principal objectives:
1- Keeping Bosnia unified and making room for pluralism and the other opinion.
2- Moving the economic wheel especially in terms of investment.
- How do you evaluate your country relationship with the Islamic and Arabic world?
I admit that there are some defects in our relationship, and I think we are the cause, but the matter is in our hands, so we have to do our best and activate the relationship. We demand Muslims and Arabs to invest and help us as they did during the war time; actually our countries have the basic elements necessary for investment.
- How many active parties in Bosnia?
There are about 47 parties, but the active are 7 only.
What is your opinion concerning the claim of some political powers that Bosnia is a center of terrorists (especially Arabs who fought beside you and remained in Bosnia)?
Unfortunately, these are gossips spread by extremely Serbs especially in American and European capitals and they have a political project, represented in consolidating what Milosovitch achieved, and I say that Muslims are a constructive element at the historical and practical levels.
- War criminals are free despite of massacre, what do you say?
They committed it against Bosnian and after all they were defeated despite of the insufficiency of our weapons; we live in peace while they are fugitives in forests and caves.
- What about your co-operation with NATO?
We will deepen it. Bosnia and Herzegovina as a small state is in need of stability.
- What is the kind of relationship that you have with the neighbors especially those which were a part of old Yugoslavia?
As for Croatia, there are good relations and normalization, especially it will join UN, and consequently, they follow the European example and respect the laws. As for Serbia, it has various problems and is trying to solve it through putting obstacles in the way of Bosnia, but there is co-operation to some extent and generally relations are not normal. Actually It will become normal relations in case Serbia government confesses that Milosovitch regime committed grave mistake and when they stop thinking in great Serbia and live in harmony. In fact, there are some parties dreaming of great Serbia and it is a dangerous indicator.
What about the army, there are new bases in forming the army; are you going to change them, or do you have a special view?
It will depend on the new circumstances; I prefer a small number if applicable. The matter will be apt to change if needed, but if the neighbors behave normally I think there is no necessity to alter the current strategy. When conditions change, we will of course change our strategy. Moreover there are some important rules necessary to join NATO; we have to abide by these rules and take them into consideration.
- What about the bases of multinational forces in Bosnia, how would you deal with this issue?
The existence of such bases is very positive in the present time, we seek stability and safety, and these forces secure that. Actually, we are still in need of military and diplomatic existence even in symbolic numbers and it is possible to change that after years but now it is very important.