The long-term goal of the main Bosniak party is the creation of a democratic, regionalised, lawful and social state under the name of ‘Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina’, which should have state, regional and local governments, says a Declaration the Party for Democratic Action (SDA) adopted on Saturday.
More than 1,200 party members reelected the incumbent president Bakir Izetbegovic, who laid out the program of the party at the seventh party congress in Sarajevo.
“In the first phase of the constitutional reforms we will support amendments to the current Constitution which ensure its harmonisation of with the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, the establishment of a Supreme Court as an institution which would guarantee equal standards for all citizens, ensure that the state has the competencies in issues which are conditions for Bosnia joining NATO and the European Union, the efficient functioning of Bosnia’s institutions and the elimination of blockades in its decision-making process,” the Declaration says.
The party’s goals fundamentally differ from what was agreed in Dayton, Ohio, when peace was negotiated in 1995 after a brutal war between Bosnia’s Serbs, Croats and Bosniaks.
Part of the peace agreement is the country’s constitution that divides Bosnia along ethnic lines into two semi-autonomous regions - Republika Srpska (RS) and the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina (FBiH), linked into a state by common institutions.
Bosnian Serb leaders insist on a dissolution of the country, Croat leaders on the ethnic division of the Federation with the Bosniaks - while Bosniak leaders insist on the annulment of ethnic divisions and the transformation of Bosnia into a state of citizens, instead of ethnic groups.
“We will not accept any kind of divisions, ethnic, territorial or institutional,” the declaration says.
An administrative-territorial reorganisation can only be considered on the entire territory of the country, not just in one of its regions, it said.
Bosnia and Herzegovina is a multi-ethnic state which must be set up in a way that accommodates all of its citizens and peoples, the Declaration states, adding that internal problems and open issues in the country can and should be solved through dialogue and compromise, as well as readiness to persist on Bosnia’s path towards the EU and NATO.
It says the SDA aspires over time to include members of other ethnic groups and to keep its central position on Bosnia’s political spectrum. The party said it will protect the interests of Bosniaks but it will start promoting the idea of the creation of a common state identity - Bosnians.
The SDA will keep advocating for the reintegration of Bosnia and Herzegovina, as the Dayton Peace Agreement, despite the fact that it halted the aggression on Bosnia, established a setup and internal structure in the country which provides for numerous possibilities to obstruct and block processes.
“Today too, retrograde forces are trying in peace to achieve the goals they could not achieve in war. As the role of the international community is fading, those forces are becoming louder with their requests for more territories and more ethnic divisions,” the document says.
“We will never allow any divisions but we will persist on the annulment of the existing ones. We will work towards the strengthening of the state of Bosnia and Herzegovina and we will oppose any devastation of state institutions,” the Declaration says, adding that the budget for sustainable return will be increased as this is the best way for the country to be patched back together.
The party said it will fight back the ongoing propaganda about Bosniak Muslim extremism and radicalisation and will insist on the truth about what happened during the country’s 1992-95 war.
“We welcome the decision by NATO which calls upon Bosnia and Herzegovina to send its first Annual National Programme (ANP) within the framework of the approved Membership Action Plan (MAP). We will do all we can so that the laws in place and the decisions that were made are fully respected. We reject any attempts which come from the Republika Srpska entity to stop Bosnia’s path toward NATO,” the Declaration says.
The document defines the party’s attitude toward the administration, economy, worker’s rights, state property, independence of the judiciary, freedom, displaced persons, veteran’s rights, social protection, education, the issue of Srebrenica, migrants, elections in Mostar, police reform and the High Judicial and Prosecutorial Council, among other topics.
“Those are the wishes of the SDA and the policies which we will pursue,” Bakir Izetbegovic said.
“Nothing will be achieved with force, a consensus must be reached. There is no NATO membership until all agree on it, but there must be respect for things that were previously agreed on,” he said.
“We belong to the West,” Izetbegovic declared, adding that those who oppose this idea should watch what will now be happening in two Balkan countries that have joined or will join NATO - Montenegro and North Macedonia - how the standard of living will be improving for their people.
“One does not live off of stories about waging wars with Turks and NATO. We do not intend to force anyone into anything, but we will try to convince them,” Izetbegovic said.
However, Semsudin Mehmedovic, who was one of the candidates for party leader at a previous congress, expressed doubt all this can be achieved without political partners among Serbs and Croats.
“It is easy to set high goals, but I’m afraid that we could drop the ball with such a big wish to achieve such a high goal,” he said.
“We all wish for Bosnia to one day become the country of all people who feel it is their country. We have a problem with the policies of our neighbours,” he added.