Misinterpreted or not, the statements of the Bosniak member of the BiH Presidency, Bakir Izetbegovic, which he made during an interview with Deutsche Welle, harmed the relations between BiH and Serbia and also the relations between political parties in the country. The difference is that BiH-Serbia relations, before the interview, were on a better track (than in the past) while the relations between Serb and Bosniak politicians in BiH were already on low level and now worsened.
The first reactions after the interview showed that a new crisis is underway, although Izetbegovic’s office issued a press release to explain that the statement about BiH’s recognition of Kosovo was misinterpreted and maliciously placed in a context it does not belong to, by (Serbian) TANJUG news agency.
“Instead of correcting the obviously false news they have posted, Tanjug continued to mislead the citizens, imagine facts, and make up new ones. This made it clear that Tanjug did not accidentally make a mistake, but that someone is intending to destroy the relations between Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia, to cast a shadow and create a bad atmosphere ahead of the visit of the BiH President to Belgrade,” announced the Izetbegovic Office.
This press release was understood as an attempt by Izetbegovic to blame another party for his very own and clear statement that BiH, at some point, will recognize Kosovo as an independent state despite the fact that Serbia considers it as part of its territory. Serbian president, Aleksandar Vucic, said to media that the statement will have long term political and legal consequences. The statement about Kosovo’s recognition is one that Vucic considers scandalous and the part of the interview where Izetbegovic said that the territorial integrity of BiH will be defended at all costs, even with war, makes things even worse.
“If I stated that Serbia will recognise the Republic of Srpska, I would be at the Hague Tribunal within the next 15 days,” said Vucic.
He added that a lot of things changed due to the interview and that the official Serbian answer will be delivered in next few days.
The reactions have been strong because of Izetbegovic’s history, rergarding announcements, political moves and statements that he has made in the past. Let us be reminded that Izetbegovic submitted an appeal to the BiH Constitutional Court asking it to pronounce January 9, RS Day, as unconstitutional, and the court did as asked. Also, he secretly prepared the revision of the International Court of Justice’s decision about the Serbian responsibility for the genocide in BiH, but the case failed because of procedural mistakes.
In fact, Izetbegovic manages to spark tension with his every interview as he is known to say things that flare – up the relations between him and the RS political leadership, especially RS’s president Milorad Dodik.
Usually, Dodik blame’s Izetbegovic for violating the relations between the entities in the country, threats with war and a lot of other “sins”. Additionally, Dodik and his partners in the RS ruling coalition, the Socialist party and Democratic Peoples Alliance, call on the Serb representatives in BiH’s joint institutions to abandon their positions and come to RS’s capital, Banja Luka, for consultations.
“We invite the parties gathered in the Alliance for Changes, that hold the power in the joint institutions of BiH, to leave them without delay and return for consultations to the Republic of Srpska, where together with the other participant parties in the current convening of the RS National Assembly, should try to reach an agreement on a joint response against threats of war sent from Sarajevo yesterday,” the joint statement of these parties said.
They consider the situation so serious that, in the announcement, they stressed that the abandonment of the joint institutions is not a matter of Serb representatives’ personal choice but a matter of their responsibility towards the Republic of Srpska.
The problem reached the higher (political) levels when, at the BiH Parliament Collegium session, the Chairman of the Dodik Alliance of Independent Social Democrats, Stasa Kosarac demanded the postponement of the Parliament session due to the “calls on war, anti-Dayton and unconstitutional statements” by Bakir Izetbegovic. As his demand was not accepted, Kosarac called on the MPs from the RS to boycott the next session. The crisis caused by Izetbegovic’s statement or its misinterpretation was transferred to a parliamentary level, threatening to completely block the political life in BiH.
The latest tensions come at a very sensitive moment in the ties of two countries, as the question of demarcation at just 4% of the border are ongoing and were expected to be over by the end of this year. Croatian member, and present Chairman, of the tripartite BiH Presidency, Dragan Covic, said to press representatives on Tuesday, that he believes everything will be fixed within the next two weeks and believes that BiH Presidency’s planned visit to the Serbian capital will be mutually wanted and will take place. Covic added that it will be dedicated to the demarcation process.
As a matter of fact, no one knows exactly what will happen with this visit or whether Izetbegovic will travel to Belgrade if it takes place. Nonetheless, if the official trip is realised, it will mirror the absurd political situation in BiH right now…/IBNA