Banja Luka, June 23, 2016/Independent Balkan News Agency
By Mladen Dragojlovic
BiH Presidency Member from the Croatian people, Dragan Covic, is a frequent guest in Banja Luka where he usually meets with the president of this entity, Milorad Dodik. However, on Wednesday he missed such a meeting and met his counterpart from the Presidency, Mladen Ivanic, to discuss outstanding issues related to the adaptation of the Stabilisation and Association Agreement. A few days ago, Ivanic asked the opinion of the RS Government on this document and, in this way, shortened the timeframe for an agreement on the addapted SAA. Covic came to Banja Luka to try to find a solution.
IBNA: Mr Covic, recently Mladen Ivanic asked the RS Government to decide on the addapted SAA. Didn’t he, in this way, block BiH’s path towards the EU and what is the solution to the current situation?
Covic: The path of BiH to the EU can not be blocked and deadlines can be moved for several days. If we break the final deadlines, we would experience the damage, but, after meeting with Mr Ivanic, I believe that in the next few days, we will try to find a common solution to this, but also for other problems, in order to set the SAA to be appropriate for the needs of our admission to the EU. A sort of deadline for an agreement will be next Monday, when we will hold a regular session of the BiH Presidency. There are also a lot of other problems that remain, which caused distrust in our work. Among them is the issue of the publication of the census results and other topics. I expect that we will, in mid-next month at a meeting in Bratislava, receive a positive response to our request for membership in the EU.
IBNA: In your opinion, is there anything in the adapted SAA that would endanger any category of people or anyone in BiH?
Covic: Absolutely not. Throughout the negotiating process we get the most for the needs of all our citizens and enterpreneurs involved in the agreement. It does not matter whether they are producers of milk, meat products or anything else in agriculture. We have a great responsibility and I am sure that we have negotiated well and I would say that it was impossible to achieve more than this. At that point we stopped and concluded the negotiations and there is nothing more we can do regarding the adaptation of the SAA. What we can do is to stand in a responsible protection of our agricultural production, regardless of the SAA. Nobody refused that to us before and will not be refused in the future. By adapting the SAA, I am sure, we will gain access to EU funds, which we will also use for the incentives in agriculture. I am sure that the negotiating team gave their best and now it’s up to us.
IBNA: There is also the problem of the census which broke the relations between the political parties. How can this be agreed in a manner that no one feels that his rights are hurt?
Covic: Politicians can not interfere in the census standards, but we politically interfered on the technical part of the census. I think we broke a deal that we had made earlier because we needed to change or amend the laws on the census. The confidence among the political partners is broken and we need to seriously deal with that.
IBNA: Trust is not lost only on the issue of the census but, as we have already heard, on several other issues. How do you see the future of BiH in this atmosphere of mistrust?
Covic: We have no alternative than to walk together in the future and look for solutions. Also, we must realize that the way of compromise is the path, and a consensus modality that we must follow. There is no room for overvoting of any nation in BiH. We’ll probably be more exhausted looking for agreements because agreement is something we have to achieve. There is no other way for BiH.