Hrvatska Rijec: What is the goal of your initiative directed towards the abolishment of the Federation and strengthening of the central institutions of BH?
The only goal of that initiative was to protect national, cultural, and religious individuality of Croats in BH, the protection of their identity and true achievement, in practice I would say, of essential equality of Croats in BH with the other two nations. Respecting the Dayton Agreement and the need that it be modified by consensus, we will nevertheless under no conditions give up our political priorities. These are the introduction of true constituent character of all three nations in all of BH, followed with consistent cantonization, which would in any case speed up the return of more than a million refugees in BH, then transfer of authority from the Federal level to the level of central authorities, with the goal of securing equality, consensus, parity and the principle of rotation. That system implies that cantons would keep their authority, which would lead to the development of local self rule, rather than any limitation or takeover of their jurisdiction. We are aware that the program of achievement of Croat cultural and religious identity is neither legally nor in practice fully resolved. Consequently that will be our priority in the immediate future.
However, the perception of the ideas originating from HDZ in the international circles is usually negative. Why? What is the origin of continuing accusations against HDZ and Croatian leaders in BH?
There are pressures, especially on HDZ BH, since that party is the most faithful interpreter and advocate of the interests of Croats in BH. However, in spite of all pressures of certain circles in the International Community, in spite of obstruction by certain domestic officials, in spite of pressures from the new authorities in Zagreb, we shall continue our struggle for absolute and total equality of Croats with respect to the other two constituent nations in BH. Here is a clear example. The UN mission in BH, instead of being concerned with the respect for and efficient application of human rights, instead of supporting the establishment of independent judiciary, instead of assisting those political forces which in its programs demand functioning of the rule of law, is engaged in organization and promotion of undemocratic pressures on the public opinion, prevention of activities of a perfectly legal national political party, limiting of the free will and choice of the citizens. How else can one interpret the statement from the report of the UN Mission according to which the task of the new Croatian authorities is to reduce the power of Croats in Bosnia-Hercegovina, Croats from Hercegovina, and Herceg-Bosnian HDZ? We believed that the mandate of the UN Mission in BH was of different nature and it is especially sad that in that disgraceful business the UN Mission is trying to pull in the current Crotian authorities, blackmailing them with difficulties in their attempt to join European integrations. Of course that is a two sided sword. Such behavior only contributes to homogenization of Croats in BH around HDZ's program. Besides revealing their intentions, international workers cannot achieve anything more significant since in BH national question hasn't been resolved as a precondition for the solution of all other questions.
Would you dare to comment threats with the Hague in that context?
A document of the UN Mission literally says: If the Croats are afraid of anything, that is the power of the Hague. Former and current HVO generals are extremely powerful in Hercegovina and ICTY and SFOR should concentrate on those generals who have allegedly committed war crimes and who still posses significant political and economic authority. What is this if not a clear, essential evidence of political nature of the existence and activities of the Tribunal in the Hague? That is a totally clear proof that the Hague has become synonymous with blackmail and political pressure against Croats in BH. However, no blackmail, no pressure or tacit demands will make us give up our fundamental political goals: building of a lasting peace and good neighborly cooperation in the region, a sovereign and unified BH as a democratic and lawful state in which Croatian and other nations will be guaranteed equality.
Your comment of General Blaskic's sentence? Is it a part of these international pressures on Croats in BH?
I want to yet again emphasize that we support cooperation with the Tribunal and have not questioned it in any way. But the unjust General Blaskic's sentence is yet another indication of unnecessary politicization of that court. We demand that the court act without political pressures, to establish individual responsibility. Its task is not to try nations, not to base its verdicts on shaky political judgments about the character of the conflict in BH. The court should honestly establish personal responsibility of every war crime suspect and finally start to investigate crimes committed by others, for example members of the Army of Bosnia-Hercegovina, for which there is clear, to the court presented evidence that they committed crimes against Croat civilians.
Is a criminalization of the Patriotic war, the HVO and complete Croatian policy with respect to BH possible?
The liberation of south-western Bosnia and lifting of the siege of Bihac were the most important preconditions for the signing of the Dayton Peace Agreement as a basis for the development of peace and trust, the establishment of the undivided and independent BH. The draconian verdict in the case against General Blaskic is one mode of criminalization of the Patriotic war. In that verdict the Tribunal practically accused the Republic of Croatia of aggression, and following that logic even the Croats in BH, therefore the HVO as the armed forces of the Croat people in BH, were in the function of that aggression. Such conclusions simply do not make sense. Besides, the Tribunal in the Hague is not competent to establish whether the conflict in BH was a civil war or a conflict between two countries. By doing so the Hague Tribunal exceeded its mandate, violated its own statute, about which I informed the General Assembly and the Security Council of the U.N. Such a verdict is a dangerous precedent. An aggression by the republic of Croatia and Croats in Bosnia-Hercegovina was not only not proven but such claims are a dangerous political stupidity. Especially since Bosnia-Hercegovina never filed a suit against the Republic of Croatia for aggression, but against FR Yugoslavia.
What is your response to claims of some Bosniak politicians and intellectuals that Bosnia-Hercegovina was attacked by the Republic of Croatia?
You are referring to academician Filipovic's statement. The HVO is not an aggressor army, nor were Croats in function of an external aggression against Bosnia-Hercegovina as academician Muhamed Filipovic claims. He claims that Bosnia-Hercegovina is an internationally recognized state thanks to the report of the Badinter's commission and the referendum in which a majority of citizens supported independence. Filipovic is probably referring to the same referendum in which Croats clearly showed their support for a unified and independent Bosnia-Hercegovina. The referendum was successful only thanks to the political maturity of the Croat people in Bosnia-Hercegovina. In other words, had the Croats not opted for the independent Bosnia-Hercegovina, there would have been no international recognition. Therefore it is totally politically inappropriate and bordering on total madness to accuse Croats in Bosnia-Hercegovina of being participants in or accomplices of an external aggression which supposedly came from the Republic of Croatia, especially if one recalls that the Croats in Bosnia-Hercegovina were the first to rise up in defense of the independence of Bosnia-Hercegovina, were the fist to confront the so-called Yugoslav People's Army, were the first to get organized within the HVO...
Certain media from Zagreb are also attacking the policies of HDZ BH, Herceg-Bosnia, the HVO...?
That unprecedented media lynch of the highest Croat officials in Bosnia-Hercegovina is a part of pressures applied against us. Such number of insinuations has not been made in a long time and such attitude towards public information is the best indication of the poverty and mediocrity of the objective, free and independent press. We are aware that organized pressure is at work in this case, financed by some international organizations and institutions, assisted by individuals from the domestic circles but, of course, we are also know how to resist that pressure. Such approach is the best illustration of the character of this eminence grise, the people who organize such dishonorable activities.
The date of local elections is getting closer. How will HDZ BH fare in the forthcoming elections?
HDZ BH, regardless of all pressures and predictions of defeat by many, will again win in the forthcoming local and this fall in the general elections, if they take place. HDZ BH has no competition among Croats in Bosnia-Hercegovina. HDZ BH is the political party with the largest membership and the best organized democratic party of the political center. At the most difficult moments, when the physical survival of Bosnian Croats was at stake, we knew how to lead, organize and secure survival of our people. That cannot and must not be forgotten. Even today, we are prepared to, together with our people, correct past mistakes and make sure that all of us prosper. We have served and continue to serve only our Croat people and no one else.
Will the defeat of HDZ in the Republic of Croatia affect election results in Bosnia-Hercegovina?
Of course, we would have preferred if HDZ won in Croatia but, on the other hand, the Croats in Bosnia-Hercegovina have benefited the most from the election results in Croatia. We are today absolutely free and do not dependent on any policy from Zagreb, as was allegedly the case in the past. Our fate is in our own hands and we shall fight for the equal status of Croats in Bosnia-Hercegovina with our own wisdom. We are open to cooperation with all those who are prepared to accept us as equal interlocutors. An imposition of solutions, as history has demonstrated many times in this region, never bears results. And history is a teacher of life, as the old Latin proverb says. Everyone should be aware of that.
All political parties support the return of refugees. Is that an election campaign slogan or a true political option?
We absolutely support return of all refugees and displaced persons to their homes. Within our election campaign we visited almost all places in Bosnia-Hercegovina where Croats live, and in that manner also gave an impetus for return. Our key interest is the return of Croats to the Republic of Srpska. Recently I visited the Republic of Srpska with my collaborators. Specifically, we visited Derventa, Modran, Slavonski Brod (Brusnica), Modrica, Samac, and Banja Luka. There is no doubt that we shall do everything to provide conditions for Croats to return to their pre-war homes. Keeping in mind that we have achieved the best results in the return of Serbs and Bosniaks to the area where Croats are a majority, we have absolute and moral rights to demand and provide all conditions for the return of Croats to the Republic of Srpska and territories where Bosniaks are a majority.