Presidency member: Bosnia's interests are what we agree on

NEWS 01.08.2018 18:57
Source: N1

Bosnia’s tripartite Presidency member and a candidate for this function at the upcoming October election, Mladen Ivanic, told N1 that the Presidency could have done a lot more, had it not been for the worsening relations between the other two Presidency members. When it comes to NATO membership he said it is highly unlikely Serbs would support it.

“The Presidency could have done a lot more. At the beginning of this mandate, I was very optimistic. We managed to kick-off the European integration process of Bosnia, to ratify the Stabilisation and Association Agreement with the EU, etc. but the positive atmosphere was lost very quickly,” Ivanic said. “The first problems arose in 2013 with the Census of Population in Bosnia which said that over 200,000 people living abroad, actually live in Bosnia. It’s a lie that they live here. I never said those people shouldn’t be listed as Bosnian citizens, but just that they don’t live there.”

After the census was complete and the preliminary results published, the Republika Srpska (RS) entity Statistics Agency said that more than 200,000 people were listed as living in the country, when in fact they lived abroad. The dispute reached the EUROSTAT, the EU's main statistics authority who said that the 200,000 people listed by the RS Agency fall within the positive or negative 5 percent difference allowed by the EUROSTAT rules.

After the census affair, came the abolition of the RS Day, the January 9th, for which the Constitutional Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina said was unconstitutional and should not be celebrated in that entity. Ivanic said this abolition was completely irrational.

“This was followed by a non-institutional attempt to revise the verdict in the case of Bosnia and Herzegovina vs. Serbia (before the International Court of Justice for aggression and genocide). In the meantime, the relations between Presidency Chairman Bakir Izetbegovic and Presidency member Dragan Covic deteriorated over the issue of elections in Mostar and the state Election Law, as well as the story of a third entity. In the end, we just tried to preserve the basic dignity in the Presidency,” Ivanic added.

When asked to comment on the International Court of Justice’s verdict on the Srebrenica genocide, Ivanic said this was a typical political subject which he tries to avoid and that historians should be the judge of whether a genocide took place in that town – not politicians.

Ivanic called his relationship with Dragan Covic as “fair,” although he did stress that Covic has a much better relationship with RS President Milorad Dodik.

“I must be frank, I haven’t had any conflicts with him (Covic).”

Continuing on the topic of the Covic-Dodik relationship which is interesting to the Bosnian public because both continue to and diminish Bosnia’s authority and both support the creation of a third, Croat-dominated entity, Ivanic was asked whether they will be able to further block Bosnia?

“I don’t know whether Covic and Dodik can block the country or whether they could block anything. I am convinced that this coalition will not happen in the Presidency and I am convinced that I will be re-elected,” Ivanic pointed out. “I always try to not produce conflicts, however, I’m ready to respond to anyone who threatens the values that I care about. I am convinced that the people of the RS will choose between stability, on the one hand, and conflict, risk and uncertainty brought by Dodik.”

Speaking about Bosnia’s NATO membership, he told N1 that this question is for someone else. This will be an active topic in some 10 to 15 years, however, he stressed he doubts that any Serb politician will agree to Bosnia’s NATO membership unless Serbia joins NATO as well.

In the final question whether Bosnia’s interests are more important to him than Serbia’s, Ivanic answered: “Bosnia’s interests have always been more important to me. However, Bosnia’s interests are not what the political Sarajevo thinks. Its interests are what the three of us agree on, otherwise, that is just a one-sided opinion-and that is not Bosnia.”