interview by Senad PECANIN
MURATOVIC: First of all, it is absolutely untrue that I advocate such a model. Secondly, the campaign against me is absolutely inappropriate. It has been prompted by a group of [Bosnian] Croat journalists who see themselves as protectors of Croat interests. It has been said that I gave a statement for Hercegovina TV, which is totally untrue. I do not recall ever, and definitively not during the last year, giving any statement for them. They expected that professor Zepic would be strongly attacked because of that model, which we, by the way, discussed on the OBN TV a long time before the attacks started, so that they directed attacks towards me, as a diversion. Based on fierceness, lies, slander, a reincarnation of Stalinism, this is a type of a campaign. A newspaper seems to believe that if they publish one day that someone is breaking up the country, that person will be arrested the following day. That group of journalists wanted to protect professor Zepic who, by the way, is not seeking protection, but discussion of that model. Because, his name is not mentioned at all in the first seven-eight articles, although he is the only author of the model with three states.
For the sake of our readers who did not watch the mentioned TV show, could you describe the working group discussing possible models for the constitutional organization of BH?
The group includes fifteen intellectuals with different backgrounds and was brought together by the Center for Security Studies. For example, the group includes prof. Sekulic, prof. Lovrenovic, prof. Zivanovic, prof. Sadikovic, to mention just a few, and the leader of the project and the Center is Bisera Turkovic. This group is supposed to create the initial material for the discussion about the organization of the country. We wanted to write a single document. We agreed to include three options in the document, but we failed to agree about the description of these options. Thus, I wrote a document describing two options, one that in my opinion is the only option that stands any chance of gaining possible political consensus in BH - a centralized state made up from municipalities. Thus, municipalities constitute the state, as was the case in BH before the war. I argue that that model is the only possible model because it would not involve disputes about borders. Namely, only the external borders of BH and those of municipalities are not contested. That concept survived for 50 years and could be improved to be very successful, and there are many models of that kind. Any other model, and I included BH made up from six regions, has the main drawback that borders of those entities - regions, cantons, or republics [federal states] - have to be agreed upon. Since I listed arguments in favor and against each one of these three options, and since professor Zepic did not like my arguments, he provided a thorough discussion of the three republics model and submitted the document to the group for comments. His proposal is actually based on four elements as besides republics it also includes Sarajevo as a federal district. And Sarajevo, based on economic significance and size is at least equal to any one of the other three entities. It is important to mention that I did not attend the second meeting of the group in Neum when the fourth model, BH made up of cantons (it has been proposed by the HDZ for a while), was considered. What is the basis of these attacks on me? First, I never, absolutely never, wrote or spoke about three entities in the context described by the journalists in their attacks on me. Secondly, my paper about BH organization, including the option with three republics developed by professor Zepic, is held at the Center for Security Studies. In the TV OBN show we talked about this topic and the journalist asked, after Zepic described his model, for my opinion. I said that on the basis of three entities, from the theoretical and practical point of view, as far as the functioning of the country is concerned it would be possible to create a more efficient model that would be more efficient than the current two entities. Further, I wrote that the three republics model is impossible in BH and explained why. The first argument against that model is that we could never come to an agreement regarding borders of these entities; the second argument is that it is very likely that equal rights could not be secured for all nations in each one of these entities. The critics mentioned only the first part of my statement, that an efficient state structure could be created. However, I would like to say that, in theory and practice, it is never advisable to create a structure in which two entities are under the jurisdiction of a third entity. Because these two entities always make themselves stronger than the third entity, which is typical for our structure where entities are much stronger than the state. Therefore, in theory and in practice every other number of entities would function better than these two. And we have already agreed that two entities cannot survive. You have seen that attacks on me were led by Independent TV 99 and Oslobodjenje. They do not mention Zepic anywhere, even though he is spoiling for an argument about that model. These attacks are full of lies and untruths, ranging from claims that I said something I did not to quoting only parts of my statements referring to positive sides of a certain model, while dropping the part in which I explain why such a model will never be created. I said that such a model would have been created on the ship "Invisible" [sic; actually "Invincible"] during the war [negotiations between Bosnian Muslims and Croats leading to the creation of the Federation BH] if it were possible to reach an agreement regarding the borders. Everything is included in my statement but no one is talking about it. For example, they say that I an a forestry engineer, and it is common knowledge that that is a lie; that I teach a minor subject called Theory of Systems, while I am actually the chair of the management and organization department... And so on, all the way to the accusations that I am destroying the country and that I participated in secret meetings. Of course, because of such slander and defamation we shall end up in court unless they apologize in the same media in which they made these slanderous charges.
But, Mr. Muratovic, haven't you somewhat underestimated the sharpened sensibility of a large part of public that pops out every time "three entities" are mentioned?
No, I haven't at all. However, we must be realistic. Croats will never agree to a serious discussion of different models that would not include the "three entities" model. Therefore a discussion of the "three entity" model cannot be avoided. I've spent quite a lot of time in Croatia and I claim that the political goal of most Croats, including diaspora, is a third entity in BH. Therefore, we must discuss that, very openly and democratically; we must support such a discussion in the media and must offer arguments that will be so powerful that they will discourage people who offer such a model. Instead we are spitting on people who say such things. They must be defeated by arguments. Professor Zepic wrote a whole chapter in his book. Let those who know how and want to debate him and reject his arguments in favor of the "three entity" model. I have very clearly rejected the possibility of the establishment of the third entity.
You are using the discourse typical for the SDA leadership. What do you mean "Croats will never" or "Bosniaks will never" or "Serbs will never"...? Is it even possible to talk like that? Don't you see any diversity of opinion among Croats, Serbs, Bosniaks?
I said "most Croats"; however, their political representatives will never accept a discussion if it dos not include that model. Just like Serbs - their representatives will not discuss anything without defending the Republic of Srpska. These are facts and we should discuss like experts, like intellectuals, like scientists. We cannot ignore these facts. I've talked with many foreigners about politics in BH. They always ask "Mr. Muratovic, what do you think about three entities?" You know that the international community always talks about three entities. Therefore, if we want to be serious, if we want to create our state based on one possible constitutional organization, then we must use arguments, in a democratic discussion where we would allow people to say what they want, to prove that that is impossible. On the other hand, if people wiling to participate in public debates are treated like this, then no one will be willing to say anything. For example, I will never again join that working group. I fear that other members of the group will do the same. I have established that there is no chance that whatever I say there would be truthfully interpreted, let alone a chance to convince people in my beliefs.
What motivated you to participate in a commission of a non-governmental organization?
My motivation was that I invested a huge part of myself in the war, in the struggle for the survival of BH, and none of important problems have been solved so far. As an intellectual, a participant in our defense, I feel called to participate in such important things. I could not allow myself not to participate and fight for my views.
Your political career since 1992, until today, is very atypical. During the war you were appointed to highest state offices, and you were not an SDA member; after the war you haven't held any high offices, but you joined the SDA and are now one of its leaders. During the war you were usually described as a liberal intellectual. Thus, I wonder, how did you end up in the SDA after all?
I am a liberal as far as my beliefs are concerned. In the past, I made numerous offers to Rasim Kadic to make a strong liberal party, which would require a lot of work and big sacrifices over an extended period of time. But he always focused on short term goals; his political horizon was always limited by the next election. For a long time I did not want to formally join any political party, including the SDA, and I was not part of its leadership until the last congress. I was very offended by, and concerned about some actions of the Alliance [for Changes]. When Mr. Izetbegovic was about to concede his presidential office at the congress, in conversations with him I for the first time accepted to join the presidency of the party. I have been offered even more important offices, but I refused to accept.
Therefore, that conversation with Izetbegovic was decisive?
The Alliance was decisive, but that was in connection with that conversation, which also made that conversation decisive.
I'd rather not talk about that. We are talking about a different topic. But, the Alliance was put together, you know how; it was created, it was not elected; it was cobbled together from groups that could not bring any progress... Too many different political parties, too many different interests, and, if you wish, ideologies. It don't think anything else need be said about that topic.
But, given all that criticism, don't you think that the Alliance in those two years achieved more than the current ruling coalition since the end of the war?
Look, that's not true, absolutely not true! Just look what this government has done since it came to power. It's producing small economic miracles!
Please, what miracles?
For example, Zenica has started working, two big companies have begun to operate in Tuzla, most likely Natron will restart production... Therefore, all those big industrial plants will restart production. I have nothing to do with that, but that's the truth. This year industrial production has increased 14 percent. That's very good.
Please, could you elaborate on your motivation for joining the SDA. You were at the time a respected gentleman, ambassador, conducting important state business...
See, I've never been politically active. Those who know me can testify that before the war I was totally apolitical. When the war came I could have joined the army or civil service. The then prime minister Jure Pelivan invited me to join the government in June 1992, and the SDA accepted me. You can ask Jure Pelivan to confirm this. Had I joined the army, excuse my lack of humility, I would have become a general. I joined the government and became a Prime Minister. This may not sound very humble, but I was successful in everything I tried in my life. If you want to have influence you must belong somewhere. Today, in a parliamentary democracy, power and influence can be found at only one place: in political parties. Thus, if you want to have influence, you must work for a political party. If you want to really have influence, you should work for the strongest political party, the one with most influence. Therefore, I wanted to take part in the defense, and the defense was led by the Party of Democratic Action...
But it is interesting that you were not its member?
No, I wasn't, but I joined that movement. I never wanted to be a member of a political party. Essentially, I hate politics. But, today you cannot achieve anything without politics. Therefore, if you will, any influence, any success, except in private business, and even that only to a certain extent... Even private businessmen have to side with political parties once their business reaches a certain size. Therefore, speaking as an expert, as a professor of management, I claim that today you cannot have any significant influence without support of a political party. And intellectuals should influence developments, especially when a nation and a state fight for survival. How would I influence anything if I did not work with a political party, regardless of whether I was its member of not?
You know, you sound contradictory to me. I cannot understand that you, as an intellectual, do not realize that in Bosnia-Hercegovina the principle of political presentation based on ethnic parties and movements can simply not bring anything good? Are you aware of that?
Listen, that was forced upon us, by the intervention of the international community. The international community could have finished the war anyway it wanted. It chose to end the war as a draw, to create a three-national state, which is defined very strictly in our constitution. You cannot avoid three-national administration at all. Therefore, regardless of who wins in the elections, the Federation BH government is supposed to have a certain number of Croat ministers, and a certain number of Bosniak ministers. Perhaps in Federation BH Bosniaks could win an election and form a government based on normal principles of parliamentary democracy. However, that cannot be done. Our constitution is totally inconsistent. On the one hand there is a federation of cantons, but in the parliament there is no house of cantons, as the upper chamber of the parliament, but instead we have the House of Nations. Therefore, that is totally inconsistent and it makes sense that that is bad and ultimately cannot bring success. I have said that everything that is important in Bosnia still hasn't been resolved. I've told Alija [Izetbegovic] many times: the SDA as a political party and Bosniaks must define two policies - one Bosniak policy and a policy for Bosnia-Hercegovina. BH cannot survive without one of these three nations. We must seek a solution that would satisfy all three nations and allow them to build their state. On the other hand Bosniaks must create their policy that will not allow that they be economically or in any other way exploited, that they not be present in military, intelligence, police structures. Look, again there are no Bosniaks in the military, or police... In the military, on the state level, there are no Bosniaks...
Well, who is to blame, if that is true? The SDA is in power now.
I don't care who is to blame. I just want to say that it is impossible to build a state like that. A state can be created only based on consensus. What do we need three armies in BH for? Thus, we should allow that a solution be democratically sought. But, my personal opinion is that we won't find these solutions until we join the EU. That is the key for the solution of our problems and before that we shall not solve any of the important problems.
Do you think that we can join the EU with such a baggage?
Be serious! Europe has no criteria, except on paper. Look, Croatia did not join, while Baltic countries did. That is incomparable. That is a geopolitical map. They will take us in when they decide. It has very little to do with the criteria. Why did they take in half of Cyprus, and the other half stayed outside? Therefore, there are no principles and criteria, it's pure politics. The EU could absorb us in three years if it decided to do so. It could push us the way it pushed Estonia and Lithuania. It could assist us so that we could strengthen our economy; it could help us sort out our laws. What are we? We're not even half of one percent of anything in the European Union. We are insignificant as far as the EU is concerned.
I'm sorry for insisting on this, but isn't it clear that BH cannot move forward with three national movements or political parties?
Well, I've said that that is more than clear. But, it is also clear that it cannot make significant progress with the Dayton Agreement, which defined that. But, let me emphasize once again - the Dayton constitution mandates a three-national administration. Now, look, if there is the House of Nations, whose members are selected based on their ethnicity, and you want to be a politician, you must find a way to enter that parliamentary chamber. If we had the House of Elders, the Party of Elders would be the strongest political party. This way, popular parties are strongest. If the House of Nations is defined, if the number of representatives of different ethnicities is defined, then everything is already turned upside down. I proposed both to international representatives and to our influential individuals, especially to Rasim Kadic... the only solution is to create a strong liberal movement that would have to include a liberal Croat party, liberal Serb party and liberal Bosniak party. All of them would come together in an Association of Liberals. All three parties would have identical programs and same ideas, but would have the appearance of national parties. Because Croats from Siroki Brijeg would not join a Bosnian Liberal Party, but would gladly join a Croat Liberal Party.
I disagree. I think that national political organization cements the current situation in the country. It is not a way to surpass the current situation.
But, I am talking about a liberal organization. The basis of the structure would be a liberal movement, liberal program, a liberal political party. You should be aware that all of Europe, including Switzerland and Belgium, is organized on some level based on ethnicity. That could not be avoided anywhere else in Europe. Therefore, we must find a model in which that would not be of great importance, while at the same time everyone would be free to push those national interests. That is the essence.
Could we clarify one thing: are you the creator of the most recent successful SDA election campaign?
Look, I've read a lot about management, perhaps everything important, and everything that is published these days. I have probably contributed to that campaign. I created that campaign in a way that was totally different from the way in which the SDA, as well as other national parties, conducted electoral campaigns in the past. If I were to create a campaign for the forthcoming local elections, trust me that political parties run such horrible campaigns that I would win at least eighty percent of municipalities with Bosniak population. Of course, it is impossible to win in Grude - I'm anticipating your question. Therefore, I contributed to that campaign but that is impossible if there is no political infrastructure. Mr. Ibro Spahic has an excellent campaign, but he has no infrastructure. Just look at his results. I knew how to utilize the existing infrastructure.
What is your view of the Social Democratic Party of BH?
I do not want to express a definite opinion, nor have I made some special analysis. But, I believe that they haven't succeeded to sufficiently develop cadre needed for a modern socialdemocratic party. They need to bring young people to their leadership positions. I think that they should transform themselves to a social-liberal party that would draw liberals. Of course, they should not follow the example of parties they criticize and then do exactly the same as they do. They have money; they are not a poor party. I think they could do much better.