interview by Bakir HADZIOMEROVIC
SLOBODNA BOSNA: Would you care to comment on the results of the most recent elections in Bosnia-Hercegovina?
SILAJDZIC: The most recent elections showed that we were right when we said that the elections are the final point in the operation which above all in practice implements the goals of the regime in Belgrade, but also the goals of the regime in Zagreb. Enough time was left for the regime in Belgrade to with assistance of the Yugoslav People's Army finish what it had planned and after all that the elections are supposed to give legitimacy to that. These results confirm the division of BH on the basis of genocide.
Absolutely! As far as I am concerned, it did not take a lot intelligence to predict this outcome of the elections. Unfortunately, at the same time there is talk about the fight against nationalist parties. For me, the SDS and the HDZ are nationalist parties. Very frequently, it is said that the SDA is the same as these two parties, which is totally wrong. The SDA is not a nationalist, but a national party. I will never permit such comparisons. The so-called struggle against ethnically based parties, as the foreigners say, is led by giving them territory and money. Consequently it is not surprising that they keep winning in the elections. Just consider what is being done in the privatization on the territory of the entity that before the decision of the BH Constitutional Court could be referred to as the Republic of Srpska. On the other hand Herceg-Bosna continues to strengthen its institutions. The privatization is conducted on the ethnic basis. Just look at the railways, ethnically clean companies in which the international community invests. Are the foreigners fighting in this manner against ethnically based parties?
It is true that in some parts of BH the HDZ and the SDS have won many votes. However, in the part of BH where Bosniaks are a majority, three parties have roughly the same number of votes. There has been a lot of talk about alliances for the formation of the future government. Has the Party for BH reached a decision...
I told you in the preparation of this interview that it depends on the international community...
What do you mean?
I have been demanding an action plan for a while. I want to know what will happen with BH and whether the international community is simply buying more time through the so-called formation of the new authorities. The so-called moderate forces have appeared in the past but only served to buy more time. Srebrenica is the paradigm of the situation in which we are. Before God and before people, no one can justify the fact that the party that carried out genocide there is today in power thanks to the so-called democracy. Democracy has been applied to the results of genocide and Srebrenica is the best expression of that. Justice was forgotten between democracy and genocide. There is no democracy without justice. I will present our proposal for thorough changes in written form to the international community in the coming week. The old policy must be abandoned. For example, why isn't the BH Constitutional Court decision regarding the constituent character of nations consistently implemented. Are the purported changes, that the international community swears into, supposed to justify all the failures so far in the implementation of the Dayton Agreement? I repeat, no progress has been made. Democratic progress had been made at only one third of the Bosnian territory.
Changes of authorities do not mean anything. Radical changes cannot be implemented without the international community. Our demands are consistent, but that hasn't found a good reception here. It seems that it is easier to convince people in the US than in BH.
After your return from the US you stated that it is possible that the party you lead would not participate in the new government. Are the mentioned radical changes your condition for the participation in the new government?
Above all I want to say that, if these changes do not take place, my party will not participate in the new government. I am not seeking an official position. Our goal is not to come to power, but to improve the situation in BH. At a lecture I gave at the International Academy in New York, Hans Schumacher told me that Europe wants a stable status quo in BH. My reply was that Milosevic, Karadzic and others have the same goal. That roughly means, do not make trouble for us, and you deal with your problems. Perhaps, it would be our problem if the international community did not forbid us in 1992 to defend ourselves. As it at the time wanted to be our protector and boss, we expect from them to be that now as well. They now want to abandon us with all the consequences that are the result of genocide and desire for the division of this country. In the situation when nationalist parties strengthen their influence on two thirds of the territory, they would like to pull out.
At a recent conference in Dayton you had very sharp exchanges with the High Representative in BH, Wolfgang Petritsch. Do you fear possible consequences?
They have already done that. Because of free opinion, the Party for BH was punished, while the SDS was declared for a moderate party. I wish I had to fear someone. Then I would know who I need to talk to about the future of BH.
It is not true that I advised them against investing, that is superficial information. I only described the local situation for them. I invited them to continue to do business here, but they must be aware that, until the situation changes, that is a risky investment. I spent three days in the US discussing new investments in BH.
You have to admit that you significantly assisted the SDS election campaign with your media appearances and the slogan "BH without entities".
That is probably true. They won in the local elections. Consequently, one could conclude that I probably even assisted Draza Mihailovic [leader of Serb royalist guerrillas in WWII, Chetniks, who carried out massacres of Bosniaks in east Bosnia]. My activities are probably to be blamed for the monument commemorating Draza Mihailovic erected in Brcko. I should be blamed for the formulation of the concept of the Greater Serbian state because I love BH and BH was always in their path. I am prepared to take responsibility for that. Can any intelligent person believe that the current entities look the way they were imagined in Dayton? Would anyone dare say that they are multiethnic entities...
Of course they aren't, but with that rhetoric, in a way, you allowed the SDS party leaders to again homogenize their supporters...
Those who follow the local circumstances know that everything that is happening to us is only a phase in the Greater Serbian project. The international community has given its contribution to that. The best indication is the return [of refugees], which is non-existent. Those who are returning are, if that word hasn't already been worn out, heroes. However, the true return has become an ordinary political platitude.
How do you in practice intend to implement the slogan "BH without entities"?
One of possible ways is the support of an overwhelming majority of citizens of Bosnia-Hercegovina. Unfortunately, we did not get that support in the elections. I respect that democratic choice. Our competitors received more votes than us. Therefore, it is possible that I am wrong about the entities, perhaps people like it like this.
Do you think that, for example, in the Republic of Srpska such a slogan would be accepted even if you received more support in the Federation?
A cosmic scale injustice is taking place there. People wait for five years to return to their homes. Milosevic's and Karadzic's project of the division of BH is still being implemented in the Republic of Srpska. We are talking about Bosnia-Hercegovina and its citizens who because of such monoethnic entities have dismal standard of life.
A few days ago it was published that you met the leaders of the SDP and the NHI, Zlatko Lagumdzija and Kresimir Zubak respectively, in a Sarajevo restaurant?
That wasn't the first time we had a coffee together...
Was that the last time?
Of course it wasn't. I will talk to anyone for whom I believe that he can help to put this country on its own feet. We exchanged opinions about what should be proposed to the international community.
Do you have a common proposal?
We do not. We are all working on that separately.
No. Not even once...
And you talked to Lagumdzija...
He invited me...
Does that mean that Izetbegovic hasn't invited you?
Everyone who wants to talk to me can do that. I talked to Mr. Izetbegovic during the campaign, but not after the elections. We frequently drink coffee together in private. Of course, in such occasions politics cannot be avoided, but one would hope that leaders of two political parties are allowed to drink coffee together.
You've talked about demands for radical changes. According to the post-election combinations, it is possible to form a government without national parties. Would that fulfill your demands?
That would not satisfy anything if there are no radical changes...
Perhaps that would, after all, lead to changes...?
What changes? Who guarantees that, if we know that, at least so far, everything boiled down to buying time for the legitimization of ethnic cleansing. Try to respond to that question as an ordinary citizen, rather than as a journalist...
I would have to think about that a bit. Mr. Silajdzic, if your party does not participate in the formation of the authorities in the Federation, a crisis of the executive institutions is possible?
The SDA and the SDP can form a government...
The SDP has already stated that they would not form a government with national parties...
In that case, that is their problem. They used to say that the Party for BH is nothing but an SDA subsidiary...
Is that true?
I don't know. Ask them.
According to some information, internal splits are possible in your party if you agree to form a coalition with the SDA. Allegedly, some of the members of the Party for BH oppose that.
That is possible. Those members can go wherever they like. The SzBH is not a totalitarian party.
What if most of your members think that way?
As far as I can tell, most members of this party rely on my opinion. There are individual ambitions, but we do not have such problems.
How did the Party for BH finance the election campaign?
We spent very little money. We have small offices, but we are a big party. I do not know the exact amount, because I do not pay attention to that, but we shall present everything to the public.
Could you comment on the newly current ideas about "new changes of borders in the Balkans"?
Yes, David Owen has again reared his head. One is certain. If that is tried, Europe can be sure that it would not have peace for a while. BH, as a state, is naturally in the way. However, it has qualities that are necessary for Europe. Elimination of Bosnia is an elimination of a favorite. This change is not good for anyone, and it harms everyone. If the project of Tudman's and Milosevic's force can be acceptable, what is that supposed to mean? However, what worries me a lot is the fact that we are constantly trying to follow the path of least resistance. Is it possible that the international community remains constant in that attitude?
The recent summit in Zagreb was marked by the latest developments in Serbia. What is your view of the change of authorities in Serbia?
A catharsis is needed there. Serbs need to face themselves, as their minister Goran Svilanovic said. That is a good start. In any case, Milosevic's regime is still alive. I know that it is not easy to change that overnight, but I am afraid that the reflection of that on BH may be the tendency to avoid radical moves in order to protect Kostunica's position. BH is continuously used to settle various accounts. We who want Bosnia are an obstacle. It seems that it would be best if we were not here.