POPLASEN: A man can be introduced in different ways. As far as what concerns your readers and the citizens of RS, it is probably still most relevant for me to introduce myself as the president of the Republic of Srpska. This will be the case until the new elections.
NN: Are you currently performing any presidential functions?
POPLASEN: I am performing many functions of the RS president. Many other officials besides me are performing some of their duties, and not others.
NN: Do you have presidential privileges?
POPLASEN: I did not have great privileges even when I was sitting in Banski Dvor [presidential residence in Banja Luka] because the budget had been "hacked". I still am provided with transportation paid for by the office of the president and essential material expenses; these are all the privileges that I enjoyed earlier. Unless we count stressful work as a privilege.
NN: On The Republic of Srpska National Day in the capacity of RS president you presented medals to Karadzic, Mladic, Martic, Galic and Seselj. Were the medals delivered to them?
POPLASEN: The process of making the medals is a rather lengthy one, and the decision was made immediately prior to the Republic of Srpska National Day. The medals are such that they can be made only by a small number of people, since the technology of production is extremely complex.
NN: Do you know where you will deliver the medals to them and will this be done publicly?
POPLASEN: I will hand them the medals personally, person to person, and I will do so on the territory of the Republic of Srpska.
NN: To all of them?
POPLASEN: To all who have been awarded medals.
NN: Among those who were awarded medals is General Galic who is located in The Hague?
POPLASEN: I hope that General Galic will not be in The Hague forever, that The Hague farce will come to an end, and that General Galic, unlike a number of Serbs who were not as lucky, will return healthy to the Republic of Srpska.
NN: How did you justify awarding this high honor to Milan Martic, the man who lost The Republic of Srpska Krajina [the Republic of Serbian Krajina]?
POPLASEN: He did not lose the Republic of Srpska Krajina, he defended her to the end. The Republic of Srpska Krajina was lost by the Serb people before the onslaught of the New World totalitarianism and its Ustashe [Croatian fascists from WWII] instruments. The historical circumstances were such that we cannot accuse someone who invested his life and his full knowledge into the defense of the Republic of Srpska Krajina of ineffectively opposing the force which is currently ruling the whole world. Therefore, the decision to award a medal to Mr. Martic was motivated by his complete loyalty to the idea of creating and defending the Republic of Srpska Krajina, as well as by his exemplary conduct during the fighting and following it.
NN: You intend to give Seselj his medal in The Republic of Srpska, too?
POPLASEN: Of course.
NN: Have you forgotten that the high representative declared Seselj to be an undesirable person in BH and RS?
POPLASEN: Well, we also declared the high representative and all of his colleagues to be undesirable persons a long time ago. We never invited them here. They came with tanks and with airplanes, as part of a plan according to which Serbdom, the Serbs and the Serb countries are all supposed to vanish. But nothing is permanent, the presence of the occupiers is of a temporary character.
How can someone who was born on the territory of the Republic of Srpska and who dedicated his whole life to the interests of the Serb people be undesirable, and how can someone who came here out of the most shallow, most primitive and most callous interests determine what is undesirable and what is desirable?
NN: Do you believe that Mr. Seselj is able and would dare to come to RS even now?
POPLASEN: He both dares to come and he can come, the only question is whether that is productive at the moment and what result would be achieved by this. That is a matter for our political assessment: what would be the extent of the damage, and what would be the benefit of a possible visit by Seselj.
NN: Will such a visit be possible at all when the border patrol is implemented according to the new law which was imposed by the high representative?
POPLASEN: It is possible now and it will be possible in the future. It would not be good for the border patrol to be implemented in the form in which it was envisaged because that is against the Dayton Agreement and against the constitution. We will see how things develop.
NN: Your action from January 9 [the Republic of Srpska National Day] of this year was also condemned by RS vice-president Mirko Sarovic, was it not?
POPLASEN: I would not say that he condemned it. Mr. Sarovic stated that the action seemed more like the action of a party leader than of the president of the Republic of Srpska. Sarovic did not say that a party action was something bad or unacceptable.
NN: Is it true that you recently verified one of your statements in the capacity of RS president with the seal of the Serb Radical Party?
POPLASEN: That is simply not true. It must have been a statement of the Serb Radical Party. The statements of the party are verified by the seal of the party and the statements from the office of the president are verified by the appropriate seal.
NN: Did you return the seals and everything else that you signed out when you entered Banski Dvor as the president of RS?
POPLASEN: Who should I return them to? The porter at Banski Dvor? Really, that is funny. To whom could I possibly turn over the seal of the president of the republic? Who is competent to receive not only this seal but the other documentation? I will, of course, turn everything over to the next legally elected president.
NN: Not to Sarovic?
POPLASEN: Of course, if Sarovic participates in the elections and is elected president of the republic.
NN: You have said that you were dismissed by the high representative because you refused to name Dodik as PM-designate. In retrospect, does it seem to you that by doing this you have inflicted damage on RS which is now without the institution of president?
POPLASEN: You see, all these documents were published in my most recent book, "With Truth against Treason", which includes the decision of the high representative in both the English and the Serb languages; it is clear that the reason for my dismissal was that I did not name Dodik as a new Prime Minister of the RS government. As far as the intent of that action, I have indicated what it was in commenting on the decisions of the high representative: its intent is to abolish all RS institutions. Because without a president, the parliament cannot function or, if it does function, it is functioning in violation of the constitution; a new government cannot be selected; therefore, the most basic of tasks cannot be carried out. The intent of the decisions of the high representative is not to eliminate Nikola Poplasen, but to eliminate the institution of the presidency; Serb politicians, and some Serb political parties, fell for it. The explanation of the high representative has shown itself to be erroneous because now it is evident that Mr. Dodik does not have a parliamentary majority. He has a minority government because he no longer has the support of the Socialist Party of RS (SPRS), the Coalition for a Unified and Democratic Bosnia-Hercegovina (KCDBiH), even many of the representatives from the Serbian National Alliance (SNS). Therefore, my explanation has shown itself to be valid while the explanation of the high representative has not. The essence of the whole matter is that Dodik was chosen to realize the American goal of the disappearance of the Republic of Srpska. Mr. Dodik has their full support because he is an ideal instrument for this policy. The members of the parliament and the state institutions of the Republic of Srpska are slowly realizing this. I really could not allow, considering my duties and my constitutional role, to act in such a way as to ensure the disappearance of the Republic of Srpska. We must collect all our strengths and fortify our unity, we must defend the Republic of Srpska, regardless of this ugly atmosphere.
NN: If you had been more measured in your comments, would the high representative perhaps have returned you to your function?
POPLASEN: That is just an unfounded statement on your part. I was completely measured in conversations with all foreign diplomats, including the high representative. The only time I abandoned reserve was when I asked them to tell me whether they were going to work on destroying RS or whether they would defend her in accordance with the Dayton Agreement and the RS constitution. I was never given any guarantees in that regard by either the high representative or the American special envoy Gelbard. Therefore, there was no lack of reserve; on the contrary, to many people I appeared more like a member of another party, and not of the Serb Radical Party, because of my attempts to reach a compromise and because of my statements which are sometimes quite different than statements typical for officials of the Serb Radical Party.
In all honesty, when we were sitting at the negotiating table they said something quite different. At the table they told me that they wanted complete obedience. Otherwise, they would create an atmosphere that would destroy every individual who was not completely obedient. By this absolute obedience they did not mean acceptance of international norms, the Dayton Agreement, the constitution and the law but acceptance of the American interpretation of international relations and the position of the Republic of Srpska. What international norms, the Dayton Agreement and the constitution mean to them, was explained by Gelbard himself, when he pointed out that international norms "are interpreted by us, the Americans, the writers of those texts". Any other interpretation, even by the highest officials of RS and BH, was unnecessary; the only thing that was necessary was to fit into the trend which they were forcing and demanding, which is what Dodik and those like him have done.
NN: When I asked you the previous question, I was thinking of the example of Dragan Cavic, who was forced by the high representative to take a prolonged vacation and then pardoned by the same man and returned to the parliament.
POPLASEN: That is a question for Cavic. As far as I am concerned, I think that it was a mistake to allow Cavic to be eliminated from the parliament in the first place because it resulted in an unnecessary display of our powerlessness and the power of the occupier to cast out and return to the parliament at his whim those who were elected by the people. This was unnecessary just as the game that is currently being played is unnecessary. You have noticed, no doubt, that during the debate in the National Parliament everyone is citing the constitution and acts of legislation, while at the same time it does not even occur to anyone to say that the president or anyone else was unconstitutionally dismissed; and whenever it is mentioned that this is what occurred, then it is said that there are higher and stronger forces at work. If that is the case, then we need to adjust either to those stronger forces or to the constitution. We cannot do it both ways; it must be one way or the other. That way needs to determine our approach to every individual who is dismissed, to all proposed laws and so on. Everything must be coordinated with the constitution and the law, with the Dayton Agreement, with international norms and that is the approach we should take. Of course, the possibility exists, and this should have been done immediately, of placing a decision of the high representative on the agenda of the National Parliament and initiating a procedure to elect a new RS president in accordance with the constitution. That would have been the best solution. I would, of course, accept and recognize such a president, who could have been elected a long time ago.
NN: Have you ever given the green light to Sarovic to take over the duties which you acquired when you were elected president of RS?
POPLASEN: I empowered Sarovic to name a PM-designate prior to the decision of the high representative. There is a written power of attorney from me, of which Sarovic has a copy, and I have a copy. There is nothing unusual with respect to this. As far as other duties are concerned, they are a result of recent compromises.
NN: To what extent are you able to influence Sarovic?
POPLASEN: To the extent defined by the constitution and the law.
NN: What is your opinion of the initiative of citizen Haris Silajdzic for the revision of the Dayton Agreement?
POPLASEN: I doubt that it is the individual initiative of Haris Silajdzic; it is obviously an American idea which is being tested in the form of Silajdzic's public announcement possibly to create a situation similar to that in Croatia. The policy implemented by the HDZ in Croatia needs to be extended by others who will attack the HDZ, while at the same time fully preserving its achievements. Now it is probably necessary to eliminate the SDA and Alija Izetbegovic while completely preserving their achievements. That is the context in which I see Silajdzic's statement and I am not surprised by it because it is not the first time he has said something like this.
NN: In your opinion, is a revision of the Dayton Agreement possible and is it desirable?
POPLASEN: It is possible, it is desirable but the revision of the Dayton Agreement must be carried out by all the signatories of the agreement and it must take into account the interests of the entities and the ethnic groups which live in Bosnia-Hercegovina. There is always a better solution.
NN: Is the final conclusion from the congress of the Serbian Radicals with respect to the liberation of all Serb territories and establishment of a border along the line Karlobag - Karlovac - Virovitica in the spirit of the Dayton Agreement?
POPLASEN: That demand and demands for the liberation of every territory and every people in the world are in the spirit of the most just and the most legally correct norms. What is the problem with the concept of freedom and liberation? You don't really think that the Serbian Radicals should think in terms of the categories of occupation, racism, fascism, etc.? Freedom, liberation, toleration, that is what we are seeking for the Serb people, as well as for all other peoples and countries. It is an entirely different matter, of course, how one chooses to interpret this demand.
NN: It seems absolutely unreal when you say that you have not given up on a border drawn along the line Karlobag - Karlovac - Virovitica.
POPLASEN: A lot of things seem unreal. During the time of the so-called democratic revolution of Biljana Plavsic it seemed unlikely that RS would disappear and that she would become an appendage of the occupation forces and yet now it is apparent that this is the case. With the change of world relations, of the major powers which compose key international relations, it is possible for borders to change without war, without bloodshed and for this to lead to a harmonious composition of states and ethnic groups in the Balkans. It is not impossible and it is not necessarily too far in the future.
NN: In what timeframe do you believe that this can be achieved?
POPLASEN: We're not baking cookies here so we can't really turn the oven to a preset temperature for a preset period of time! In the period of time before us, the more quickly a great degree of equality and tolerance in international relations is achieved, the more quickly Serbs comprehend their historical interest and organize themselves in accordance with that interest, the more quickly these results will be achieved.
NN: Are you thinking in terms of decades or... ?
POPLASEN: It may be a year, five years, ten years or fifty years. In any case, it is in our future.
NN: Do you support the return of Serbs to Croatia?
POPLASEN: I support the return of Serbs to The Republic of Srpska Krajina and their autonomous organization in accordance with their ideas and intentions.
NN: Does it bother you that non-Serbs are returning to RS?
POPLASEN: Why would it bother me? That is their personal business and a matter of their assessment where they want to live and organize their lives and their future.
NN: Did you submit a request for return of residency rights in Sarajevo?
POPLASEN: I submitted a request for return of residency rights so I could exchange the apartment in Sarajevo for Banja Luka or in some other manner resolve the issue of my residence in the Republic of Srpska. However, that action is presently blocked as well as some of my other personal rights. For example, I inquired at the consulate about securing a visa for my minor child to visit Austria and received an affirmative response; however, the Austrian Embassy in BH will not issue the visa. That is discrimination.
NN: You would never consider returning to live in Sarajevo?
POPLASEN: I have no reason to return to Sarajevo. Why would I return to Sarajevo? Perhaps some people wish to return. Choosing a place to live is a matter of personal choice and personal freedom. I can live in any Serb region, in any Serb city, including Sarajevo when it is again a Serb city, but currently I have no desire, wish or need to go there.
NN: You said that Srpska is occupied. Who is the occupier?
POPLASEN: Just look out through the window and it will be obvious.
NN: What if you can't see through the window?
POPLASEN: Look, they are there in civilian clothing and in uniforms. It is obvious who is here on behalf of the military and civilian occupation forces. It is obvious what SFOR is and what OHR is and what numerous other organizations are: their instruments.
NN: Of which organization?
POPLASEN: I am thinking of the organizations which are researching, not to use another term, evaluating, organizing the import of foreign ideas, the destruction of our national mentality, the razing of our cultural potential, our industrial capacities, which frequently hide behind the banner of humanitarian organizations, and organizations offering various types of assistance and instruction. They obviously represent a service of the occupation forces which are embodied, first and foremost, in SFOR, headed by the American troops; in the OHR, which is their instrument, and in the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, which implements their ideas.
NN: In your opinion, is there any means of escape, any hope for RS?
POPLASEN: Yes, there is. I think that it is necessary for the Serbs to rally around the idea of tolerant survival in these regions, autonomous organization in accordance with Dayton and the Constitution, and that they must very forcefully and clearly state that they do not want a new pogrom and a new exodus, but neither do they want anything that does not belong to them.
NN: How do you assess the work of the RS government?
POPLASEN: It is truly superfluous to say that during the mandate of this government RS found herself in a complete crisis, that she is on the verge of disappearance, that all institutions are under a question mark, that sovereignty has been degraded, territorial integrity compromised and that, all things considered, the results of Dodik's government are catastrophic.
NN: Can the government really be blamed for everything?
POPLASEN: I didn't say that the government was to blame. The government needs to stimulate and to control the processes that ensure the survival of RS. I am not saying that the members of the government need to work at "Incel" or "Cajavec" and be active in production, but their actions must ensure the general framework and conditions for work of industrial capacities as a whole, for the protection of sovereignty, for the functioning of all subsystems of RS. The government broke the existing framework and by its actions allowed and stimulated just the opposite.
NN: To what extent are other institutions responsible, for example, the parliament?
POPLASEN: Since the parliament failed to replace the government, it is obvious that the responsibility of the parliament is great.
NN: Do you, in the capacity of president, share any part of the responsibility in all this?
POPLASEN: I really don't see where you see that responsibility! Everything I have done was done to prevent what I am now describing. Tell me, where were my mistakes and my responsibility so that I can comment on them?
NN: Perhaps with your engagement a new government could have been selected?
POPLASEN: Well, I tried to achieve this in various ways. I named a PM-designate from the biggest parliamentary party; it didn't work. Then I named a candidate from the Independent Social Democratic Party; that didn't work, either. An independent candidate for prime minister who did not belong to any party did not succeed in winning a parliamentary majority. However, gradually the parliamentary representatives were getting the idea that, nevertheless, they needed to select a government. That gradual process has only now produced results and I hope that in the upcoming days and weeks a government will be formed without the Coalition for a Unified and Democratic BH and without people like Milorad Dodik, who are participating in the destruction of RS.
NN: Was it really the case that there was not a single man in RS who could have secured a parliamentary majority?
POPLASEN: Who was it? I have told you everything. Who is the man who could have secured it and how?
NN: I know that at that time Dodik could have secured it.
POPLASEN: Dodik could have secured a parliamentary majority and ensured the disappearance of RS in two to three months. That's the crux of the matter. As far as Dodik is concerned, we are talking about an American instrument; I was looking for a person who would respect the constitution, the law, the Dayton agreement and who would protect RS. How can I name as a Prime Minister someone who will set on fire the house in which you have given him all the rights of a member of the family?!
NN: Apparently yet another attempt by Belgrade to replace Dodik's government has fallen through.
POPLASEN: I don't know anything about another attempt by Belgrade.
NN: Was all this not master-minded in Belgrade?
POPLASEN: I don't know; that's your idea. That's the idea that Mile [Dodik] mouths in front of the microphone. In general, he uses such imaginative explanations for things, complete fabrications and lies, that I really don't know why I should even bother commenting on them.
NN: Dodik revealed the scenario from the parliamentary podium. Sarovic will nominate, and the Serb Democratic Party, the Radicals and the Socialists loyal to Belgrade, with a little help from some of the others, will try to bring down his government and elect a new government which will be loyal to Milosevic!
POPLASEN: And what is Dodik supposed to represent in this scenario? Following the elections, the parliament was supposed to have elected a new government. After every election, the new parliament selects a new government. What is so unusual about that?!
NN: Do you think you will succeed in this?
POPLASEN: We are trying to come to a rational solution through negotiations. I am hopeful that we will succeed.
NN: Your party in RS has suddenly drawn closer to the Socialists.
POPLASEN: I don't understand why it would draw closer. We are still fierce opponents of the Socialists. Where to you see these parties drawing closer?
NN: At the last session of the parliament.
POPLASEN: We have not gotten closer to the Socialists; they have perhaps realized that a new government needs to be selected, while we have been insisting on this ever since the new parliament was elected. Obviously, some representatives are getting closer to a logical, democratic and constitutionally sound solution; that is something on which we have always insisted.
NN: So, the Socialists are drawing nearer to the Radicals?
POPLASEN: The Socialists, judging by the last session of parliament, have almost accepted the assessment that they need to support a constitutional and democratic resolution of the government crisis in RS.
NN: In the continuation of the parliamentary session, will the Radicals insist on the election of a new government?
POPLASEN: It's already on the agenda. The parliament was adjourned on that agenda item and that is where it will reconvene.
NN: But the high representative will not allow Sarovic to name a new Prime Minister?
POPLASEN: That is a question for the high representative. He may even ban us from using our right legs when walking and order us to hop only on our left legs, and justify that by saying that he has the most power and what he says, goes. Whoever accepts this can proceed to hop on his left leg; we'll see how things develop.
NN: You will try, despite everything, to get a new government selected?
POPLASEN: We will try to select a government in accordance with the constitution and the law.
NN: Your prognosis: what will be the further course of events following the continuation of the parliamentary session?
POPLASEN: The upcoming months will be fairly dramatic and difficult. The goal of the destruction of RS and the introduction of the border patrol is to completely destroy and level Yugoslavia and Serbia; I hope that we, meaning Serbs as a whole and not only Serbs in RS, will forcefully and clearly demonstrate that we wish to stay alive, to stay autonomous and, those of us who are in RS, to stay in compliance with the Dayton agreement, international norms and solutions in accordance with our constitution. I know that this will not be easy but I am certain that democratic, patriotic forces are coming to the fore; not only here but also elsewhere in the world the truth is emerging regarding what has been happening in recent years. I hope for better times.
NN: Does organized state crime exist in the Republic of Srpska?
POPLASEN: It is obvious that it does, but the arguments and evidence are still locked up at the top of the government. One day they will be decoded and revealed.
NN: Can you comment on the dismissal of deputy prime minister Tihomir Gligoric and the dismissal of Dragutin Ilic from the position of director of the fund for National Health Insurance?
POPLASEN: The intent behind the dismissal of the president of Srpska is the destruction of all institutions and the introduction of total dictatorship. This is apparent from the fact that a member of the government cannot be dismissed without the approval of the president, just as legislative acts adopted by the parliament do not become laws until they are signed by the president. Now everyone is citing the circumstance that RS does not have a president. It doesn't have one only if the high representative is exceptionally tall, so tall that the constitution and all laws fall under his shadow. Therefore, it is completely unconstitutional to dismiss any member of the government without the approval of the president; the dismissals which you mention are a display of absolute arbitrariness. This is a fact of which I warned a long time ago when I said that the intent of the decision of the high representative was the destruction of the Republic of Srpska institutions and RS as a whole and the assigning of the functions of the president, the speaker of the parliament and the prime minister to one man whom they control.
NN: Do you think that in this concrete instance Dodik should have consulted you with regard to the dismissal of a RS deputy prime minister?
POPLASEN: Who else should he consult with, Madeleine Albright?! I personally am not important; what is important is that every individual and every state official acts in accordance with the constitution and the law.
NN: You said at the beginning of the conversation that some parliamentary representatives from the Serb National Alliance and the majority of representatives belonging to the Socialist Party of RS support the selection of a new government.
POPLASEN: According to the information I have, that is correct. We will see how the representatives will decide in the next few days and at future parliamentary sessions.
NN: According to the information you have, is the Socialist Party of RS unified?
POPLASEN: I don't know, perhaps you should ask them that question. They have their statute, their style of work and they need to either reorganize or reestablish that they are indeed unified. But I really would rather not get involved in this.
NN: How do you assess the work of Zivko Radisic in common [Bosnian] institutions?
POPLASEN: It's apparent that Radisic was involved in all this. First he signed, then he didn't sign the New York Declaration; then the high representative quotes the position of Zivko Radisic and completely destroys an institution guaranteed by Dayton such as the RS police force while Radisic remains speechless. It's a problem. Not to mention other situations.
NN: Please do!
POPLASEN: From the border near Kostajnica to all regulations which pass through the BH presidency, BH is favored to the detriment of the autonomy of the entities. The BH presidency must give its approval for regulations which go before the BH parliamentary assembly; if the interests of his ethnic group is endangered, the representative of any ethnic group or entity in the Bosnian presidency can put a stop to this procedure. He has other procedural possibilities for protecting the interests of RS.
NN: Are you suggesting that Mr. Radisic is not consistently representing the interests of the Serb people in the Bosnian presidency?
POPLASEN: He represents the interests of Bosnia-Hercegovina; only faintly, occasionally and lifelessly does he represent the interests of RS.
POPLASEN: I do not acknowledge it personally, on behalf of my party or on behalf of my nation. How can I acknowledge an institution which is contrary to all elementary norms, principles of humanity, legality and justice, which represents a political institution and is the instrument of the policies of a hegemonistic, huge, totalitarian, fascist power?
NN: Apparently you have a higher regard for Hague inmates than for the Hague court?
POPLASEN: They are my friends. The majority of them are acquaintances, some are colleagues, how could I not hold them in high regard! It is pointless to expect me to identify with the executioners and spit on the victims!
POPLASEN: There was no opposition here, there was no meeting ere. Misery and sorrow is all that gathered here. The majority of average citizens in Serbia never even heard of most of these people. It was a caricature of a meeting, organized here to destroy our motherland. Fortunately, without any prospects of success. I think that that gathering does not deserve any serious commentary.
POPLASEN: The high representative has said all sorts of things so far. It's not my job to be forever commenting on the lack of legal basis for the high representative's decisions. I couldn't keep up with him, that's how many of them there are!
NN: But his decision is final, is it not?
POPLASEN: I don't think that is true; I'm certain it's up to God to make a final decision.
NN: The high representative has seniority over the parliament?
POPLASEN: I don't know how senior and how tall the high representative is; that remains to be seen. It would be more logical to insist that everyone's decisions, including those of the high representative, are in accordance with the Dayton Agreement and the Constitution. All of his decisions are anti-Dayton, anti-democratic and anti-constitution. Who is senior and who is stronger is another topic altogether. That is a question of power and force; but power and force cannot be classified as democratic, legal and political solutions, on which we insist.