by Ivan LOVRENOVIC
These issues remain open since Tudman-Izetbegovic's time, and all this time it has been clear that they are far more important for Bosnia-Hercegovina and that a balanced solution of these issues would benefit Bosnia-Hercegovina far more than it could, possibly, harm Croatia. While Tudman was alive, while every Croatia/Bosnia-Hercegovina issue in his neurotic anti-Bosnian perception had much more significance than it really deserved, it was not unexpected that the solution of those issues would be endlessly postponed. Today, however, eight years after Tudman's death, when Mesic is already nearing the end of his second five-year term in President's residence at Pantovcak, and everything regarding Ploce, Neum and property remains just the way it has always been, it is a bit hypocritical to boast with the distinguished title of "proven friend of Bosnia-Hercegovina", which is lavished on Mesic in Sarajevo, and at the same time deny responsibility and hide behind the "government jurisdiction".
Haris Silajdzic hinted that that day may not be far in the future in a TV show, which deserves a more detailed commentary. I am referring to the Sarajevo TV station Hayat and its Saturday prime time news program Centralni Dnevnik, the show characterized by a picturesque combination of extreme national-patriotism and by now fairly forgotten professionalism of its anchor and producer Senad Hadzifejzovic, former Sarajevo TV reporter. This time Hadzifejzovic deserves credit for bringing together Silajdzic and Mesic who were sitting at Pantovcak, in Mesic's salon, and Boris Tadic, president of Serbia, who was interviewed in Belgrade by Hayat's reporter. The video link functioned well and the program was definitely the most interesting political event of that evening in this part of the "region". It is too bad that its audience was limited to those following Hayat.
The chief topic was, of course, the decision of the International Justice Court in the Hague regarding the suit of Bosnia-Hercegovina against Serbia. However, open issues between Croatia and Bosnia-Hercegovina were also mentioned, including the territorial dispute regarding conflicting claims over two notorious islets with which Bosnia-Hercegovina, no less, gains or loses the status of maritime country! Mesic gave an evasive reply. On the other hand, Silajdzic was curt, hard and unequivocal leaving his host speechless: "There is nothing to discuss. Those islets are ours!"
And the conversation about the court's verdict, about controversial interpretation of the decision and its consequences, about the way it may influence relationships between countries and nations - again demonstrated the nature of a huge gap between the state of consciousness and spirits in the political and national triangle that was that evening represented by three presidents. Naturally, Mesic was somewhat in the background, with somewhat easier role. Therefore, it was totally unnecessary of him to offer at one moment, when the future status of Kosovo was discussed, a long-winded and very unconvincing explanation of the former ambivalent status of Vojvodina and Kosovo as parts of the former Yugoslav federation, which, according to Mesic was supposed to be some sort of semi-defined argument for their right to declare independence.
Regarding Hague suit by Bosnia-Hercegovina against Serbia and its repercussions, Tadic and Silajdzic had almost nothing in common. Tadic, naturally, was very much relieved by the court's decision that Serbia was not responsible for genocide, but his discourse was devoid of any trace of gloating. On the contrary, he emphasized that the court's decision includes some very serious incriminating statements and obligations for Serbia, he recalled his appearance at the commemoration of the tenth anniversary of the tragedy in Srebrenica ("I went there as a human being and a president of Serbia"), and his meeting with the mothers of Srebrenica ("that was the most difficult moment in my life"). He advocated unconditional respect for the victims, individualization of guilt, punishment of criminals, and sincere cooperation and attempts to overcome the past. As far as the status of the Republic of Srpska was concerned, he refused to address that issue since he did not want to meddle in internal affairs of Bosnia-Hercegovina.
Silajdzic, on the other hand, stone-faced and with pursed lips, insisted: The Republic of Srpska is a product of genocide, the court has stated that the Republic of Srpska committed genocide (although we still need to carefully read the verdict and understand if that is the case or whether the verdict only talks about "persons from the political and military leadership of the Republic of Srpska"), the whole Dayton Agreement is based on genocide, and consequently the state organization based on genocide must be annulled, while Bosnia-Hercegovina must enact a law that criminalizes denial of genocide... (The justification of this demand has strongly been strengthened by a rather stupid and morally repugnant statement by Milorad Dodik, made immediately after the court published its decision, that he would never recognize even genocide "limited" to Srebrenica only...)
It was immediately obvious (on everyone's faces, even Hadzifejzovic's in Sarajevo studio) that with those words and repeated emphasis on "criminal upbringing" [of Serbs] Silajdzic crossed some sort of invisible, but alarming line between what is permissible and what is not, regardless of political, national or other differences...
Tadic in Belgrade only had to make sure not to miss the opportunity. He asked, softly and without raising his voice: "Who will you make peace with if you reject all Serbs as criminals?"