By SLOBODAN VASKOVIC
"The minority government of the 'Unity' Coalition has been detrimental to every aspect of life in RS; great damage was inflicted on the national interest and the economic position of the people," said Kalinic, evaluating the year which is now coming to a close.
Furthermore, he says that this year was characterized by the destruction of the spirit and morale of the people, which helped it to overcome all earlier misfortunes and enabled in to achieve the majority of its goals. Kalinic also notes that, instead of being reestablished, key elements of RS independence are being further reduced or disappearing altogether. "It is pointless to blame this on someone in the international community when the problem is right in our own front yard. The platitude now being used by some politicians who claim that according to Dayton RS is not a state is dishonest; it is more of state than Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, Flanders, Valonia or any state in the U.S. The people are again being divided along ideological lines. At one time, the SDS announced the reconciliation of the people to be its primary goal. We offered this in good faith a year ago in the form of a proposed government of national unity, convinced that this was the only way of ensuring national unity and a good future for RS," said Kalinic.
REPORTER: The current RS government claims that it has made progress with respect to economics. You claim the reverse is true. What are your arguments?
KALINIC: The Unity Coalition has demonstrated during the past year that it does not have an economic program; therefore, the government lacks such a program, as well. Everything is reduced to the old Communist maneuver of regulation, customs duty, taxes and tariffs. The industrial growth rate was higher during the war than it is today; companies which were then working are now closing their doors. The delays and secrecy involved in the privatization process are a tragedy for our people. If Unity, after coming to power in the specific manner, had not barbarously annulled all earlier laws on privatization, by today the privatization process would have been almost complete, and the greatest benefactors of it would be veterans and refugees. Furthermore, the distancing of the current government from FR Yugoslavia is equivalent to the 1908 annexation of Bosnia-Hercegovina (BH) and it will have far-reaching consequences. If the same destructive policies of Unity continue into the new year, there is a very real danger that RS will disappear and that the lives of our people west of the Drina will become meaningless.
REPORTER: Under your leadership the SDS has not succeeded in entering the government. Do you consider this to be a personal failure and a failure of your party?
KALINIC: If everything depended solely on me or on my party and the number of available ministerial positions, then I would say that you are correct. However, ever since the last elections, it has been in the interests of many people to have the SDS and other similar parties excluded from the government. 'Unity' would lose many of its present positions in the government and would have to deal with another Serb bloc. The influence of the CD Coalition would be marginalized, because the new government would be defended by a stable parliamentary majority from RS. I assume that this combination was not agreeable to some factors in the international community, as well. But the greatest "danger" of SDS's entry into the government or the formation of a new government with SDS's support lies in our clear demand, formulated in ten points, that a new political direction for the government be established. This means that the government must immediately begin following the dictates of national and state interests, not dictates from the outside. Consequently, the recommendation which we recently heard that people should vote again for the Unity government is the best proof for our people that they should not vote for Unity. Because I wish someone would point out to me another country where, months after regular elections were held, an illegal and illegitimate government remains in power and it does not occur to anyone at all to hold new, regular elections.
REPORTER: Is it true that SDS would now reject an offer to enter Dodik's government even if such an offer were to be offered by the prime minister? There are claims that you have concluded that this would be an imprudent move during the pre-election period.
KALINIC: To be honest, we have received many offers from Dodik. But no one really knows who is running the show in Unity, nor what personal or group interest they represent, and finding a competent partner for an arrangement is a problem. This is why we do not expect a clear response this time, either, to the letter which we sent more than a month ago and in which we offer, in the interests of the people and RS, a healthy compromise; and, as you indicated in your question, time is passing. We will not allow Unity to drain our energy through petty tactics. We are on the eve of the elections; we have support among the people; the international community is losing some of reservations with respect to our party, while Unity and its leaders are sinking deeper and deeper into mud...
REPORTER: Did the efforts of the SDS to enter the government lead to the split in the coalition with the Serb Radical Party (SRS)?
KALINIC: At first our opinions regarding the new position of Mr. Sarovic, regarding the motives for entering the government (and the main motive was to stop the collapse of RS from the inside), regarding our opinions on solving the political crisis in RS were shocking, to some extent, even to our coalition partners. Since then many issues have been explained publicly and internally clarified. The SDS-SRS-SKRS coalition was never an artificial coalition like the Unity Coalition. Our partnership assumed, in every concrete situation, a high degree of autonomy and responsibility, first to our own respective parties but also a high degree of understanding for the strategic interests of RS. We act accordingly, both in the parliament and in the field.
REPORTER: How will the opposing positions of the SDS and the SRS regarding the upcoming local elections affect further relations between your party and the Radicals? They have called on citizens to boycott those elections and some have even announced that they will provoke incidents.
KALINIC: A lot can still happen before the upcoming elections. Presently our leadership is of the opinion that a boycott of the elections would not be a good thing. It is not stated anywhere in the election regulations that a certain percentage of voters must participate in order for the elections to be valid; therefore, a boycott would well serve the interests of Unity and some others. I am convinced that these elections will again be a battle for the preservation of RS and only a massive turnout at the elections and votes for SDS and other similar parties can ensure this.
REPORTER: The international community has asked that the SDS publicly and clearly distance itself from the politics of official Belgrade. On the basis of individual public statements by high officials of the SDS, one could say that relations with official Belgrade have indeed grown cooler. Is this just for appearance's sake or has the SDS truly stepped off Slobodan Milosevic's coat-tails?
KALINIC: Really, that whole issue has assumed comic proportions. Every single visit to Belgrade, public or private, is tracked and becomes cause for speculation. The members of the SDS don't want to live under this kind of scrutiny. First of all, there is a great deal of guesswork involved with respect to the true amount of political influence that Mr. Milosevic has on individual political structures in RS, including the SDS. Hopefully, Unity's memory is not so short-lived that it cannot remember who supported and promoted Dodik in response to the SDS's disobedience. Even then, when our relations with Milosevic may have appeared ideal, this was not the case and I could list dozens of examples from the recent past. However, your question contains a fundamental misunderstanding which our party has been pointing out for months. Will distancing ourselves, as you say, from Milosevic, help our people here live better and vice-versa? Even ordinary people can clearly see the damaging consequences for RS of the fact that Dodik's government, following orders, completely broke off every form of cooperation with FRY. Eighty percent of our industry has lost what was for us, until yesterday, a domestic market; tens of thousands of workers have been laid off and sent home (to wait for what?); the border with Serbia has never been "thicker"; the government has not found new markets, except for turning over the RS market to Croatia and Slovenia; most of the monies received from credits and donations are going to purchase social contentment... Has the "concerned" world compensated us for everything we have lost by breaking off commercial, cultural and all other relations with Yugoslavia? Does the government have the approval of the parliament for this monstrous policy?
REPORTER: What do you expect in the following year? Do you expect improvements in the political, economic and social situation in RS or do you perhaps expect a complete submersion of RS into a unitary BH?
KALINIC: I expect that the will of the voters, assuming that the elections are going to be free and fair, will change the balance of power among the political forces in RS and that power will be assumed, from the local to the republic levels, by a new team of people for whom the protection of the interests of the people and the republic will be more important than their personal interests. Precisely because of this, they will be respected and held in regard as partners of the international community.
KALINIC: I wish that they do nothing to change their present "successful" politics because that is the best way they can help us secure victory in the elections. I hope that, in the meanwhile, they will not fritter away the little that we have left.