The leader of the strongest Bosniak party in the country, Bakir Izetbegovic, told N1 that the statements US envoy Gabriel Escobar made regarding Bosnia’s EU integration and constitutional reform do not represent the official position of the United States.
The US Special Envoy said recently that the civic concept for Bosnia and Herzegovina can be discussed only after it joins the EU and that the Dayton Peace Agreement remains the framework until then.
Izetbegovic said this is not in line with US policy on BiH.
“We know American politics. It's like a bulldozer – slowly moving things in the right direction, with occasional slowdowns. But that is the policy for BiH, “Izetbegovic said.
Izetbegovic said that Escobar’s statements “have no basis” and that the US official is trying to “throw the hot potato into the lap of BiH politicians” and to make it seem as if they are all equally to blame.
“The Dayton Peace Agreement is a straitjacket on the arms of a patriotic and pro-European majority. It hinders the main force in BiH,” he said, adding 58 percent of the political forces in the country are pro-Bosnian parties which are “traditionally Bosniak” and want stability, peace and EU and NATO integration.
However, because of the Dayton Agreement, “that 58 percent is pushed down to one third,” he said, adding that the agreement also “enabled apartheid” and the actions of the Bosnian Serb member of the country’s tripartite Presidency, Milorad Dodik.
Izetbegovic said it also gave the Croat National Assembly (HNS), the umbrella organisation of Bosnian Croat parties in the country, which he said has a total of “150,000 votes”, the same status as a political group that has five or six times as many votes.
“Escobar is not right when he says that the Dayton Agreement is not a problem, it is a problem,” he stressed.
He said negotiations on electoral reform in BiH will continue eventually, but not in the coming weeks, arguing that it would be “suicidal.”
He said it is not possible to achieve anything because of mistrust, since the narrative that is being promoted in the public is that he and HDZ BiH leader, Dragan Covic, are negotiating on the fate of all citizens without representatives of opposition parties.
Izetbegovic said there is no reason for Bosnian Croats to “radicalise” since they have no reason to be dissatisfied.
“They live well, they work. What kind of territorial reorganization would they want?” he asked, adding that Bosnian Croats would not engage in “a policy of uniting with Serbs against Bosniaks and BiH.”
Izetbegovic also spoke about the recent elections in Serbia, saying he expects that there will be less public support voiced for Russia in the country now after the election period.
He also said that Croatian President Zoran Milanovic and his frequently controversial statements on BiH “do not represent Croatia.”
“That isn’t Croatia. Even at the time of the worst conflicts between the BiH army and the Croatian Defence Council, at least half of Croatia was against that and we should work on making the positive part of Croatia even stronger in cooperating with BiH “, he said.