“UN High Representative is using legal violence in our country”
This is not an issue of violence and war; it is a democratic process, added Dodik. He also talked about the possibility of a new sovereign state appearing in the region.
RT: Two years have passed since Kosovo declared independence and was recognized as an independent state by several countries. At that time, some people said it could cause a domino affect and destabilize the whole region. But nothing of the kind happened. Why? And should we expect that the same thing may happen in the Balkans again?
Milorad Dodik: Indeed, the fact that Kosovo broke away with the help of some Western nations destabilized the Balkans to a certain extent and changed the situation both in the region and in the entire system of international relations.
This is an example of how the West has different positions on similar issues. More specifically, the West supported the separation of Kosovo, yet it promotes the opposite idea in the case of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The West is against separating them. It is very difficult to prove the legitimacy of Kosovo’s declaration of independence, no matter how hard the West is trying to present it as an isolated and unique case. That is why we have not recognized Kosovo’s independence. Naturally, the Bosnian Muslim part of Bosnia and Herzegovina recognized Kosovo.
But Republic of Srpska rejects this decision. People often ask us: if Kosovo had a legitimate right to declare independence, how come Republic of Srpska as part of Bosnia and Herzegovina does not have the same right? We are part of an international treaty which is called the Dayton Accords. Basically, we are under UN protection, and if we were to take some steps towards unilateral separation, this would do us more harm than good. We do not like reckless schemes. So, even though we do not rule out that Republic of Srpska may raise this question at some point in the future, currently this issue is absolutely irrelevant.
RT: In other words, it is highly unlikely that you will hold a referendum on separation from Sarajevo anytime soon?
MD: According to the Dayton Agreement and according to the Constitution of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Republic of Srpska has the right to hold a referendum. Referendum is the highest form of the people’s participation in decision-making. We have just adopted a law on referendums, which defines the way it should be conducted and all the procedures. For some reason, many interpreted this as the first step towards a referendum on independence. But, as I have been saying time and again, this is not on the agenda. What is more pressing is our fight for legislation. The UN High Representative is practically using legal violence in our country, pushing us to adopt certain laws, even though this goes beyond the scope of his mandate and is against the will of our people. Therefore, the first question we may have in a referendum is whether the people of Republic of Srpska support the legal violence used by the High Representative. But I repeat, this does not mean that we will never have a referendum on the status of Republic of Srpska. To us, this is not an issue of violence and war; it is a democratic process. In order to ask such a question, a lot of conditions have to be met first. Currently, we observe the Dayton Accords, we respect the territorial integrity of Bosnia and Herzegovina and we act accordingly.
RT: If the referendum on withdrawal from the federation does take place, although it may seem improbable at this point, what do you think reaction in Serbia and Russia will be?
MD: Serbia’s position is clear to us, because it backs the principle of territorial integrity. It defends its own territorial integrity. It could not be against the territorial integrity of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
This would simply mean inconsistency in international politics. For Serbia, the issue of Kosovo has not been resolved yet. Let us see how it all will look like in the future when the situation becomes clearer.
Russia, in turn, is part of the international community responsible for peace and stability in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Russia’s position is very proper. Moscow backs the Dayton Accords and believes that the international community’s mandate over Bosnia and Herzegovina should be terminated. I think Russia thus pacifies the situation considerably, because this policy is not directed against anyone in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
This is what makes it different from the policies of some Western countries that support some forces unilaterally, I mean Bosnians and Muslims.
RT: The Dayton Accords were adopted in 1995, ending the Civil War. However, they failed to offer an ideal model for a multi-ethnic state. Do you think these accords need to be revised?
MD: The Dayton Accords did not only provide peace, which was the consequence. The essence of the Dayton Accords lies in creating a new political system in Bosnia and Herzegovina. It is a new political system, in which several ethnic groups exist together. Bosnia and Herzegovina is a federation, a federative state. But the West, the Bosnians, and the Muslims want to create a centralized state.
This violates the Dayton Accords. They want to change the Constitution in order to legalize the controversial moves of the High Representative. They want to use European integration as a pretext to have a unitary centralized state. In such a country, though, the people of Republic of Srpska and their government will play a very small role, with little opportunities to influence the policy. So we believe we have a legitimate right to protect the Dayton Accords and the rights we obtained through them. And we will persist in our stance, although many Western states may not like this.
RT: The UN High Representative has the right to cancel any decisions made by the local authorities. Are there any ways to counteract this? And in general, what do you make of the fact that the international community interferes in your country’s domestic policies?
MD: Bosnia and Herzegovina is a place where foreign factors strongly interfere in the country’s internal affairs. I am not talking only about the High Representative. Actually, he does not represent the international community. He represents the signatories of the Dayton Accords: Republic of Srpska; the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina; Croatia; and Serbia. Those are the signatories of the Accords, with a provision that there should be such a Representative. After that, the Peace Implementation Council was established – of which there is no mention in the Accords. It was this Council that created the situation where the High Representative can impose his unlawful legislative activities. For example, High Representatives from different countries patronize certain areas. Say, the current High Representative comes from Austria, so our entire banking system is now controlled by Austrian banks.
It is a regular practice when a bank is sold to an Austrian bank for one euro. This demonstrates what their actual intentions were.
Soon we will have an election. The embassies of some nations directly meddle in, especially in Republic of Srpska. They do not hide their intention to change the power since the current authorities do not suit them. What they need are obedient sycophants who will hand the national riches over to foreign countries without little or no compensation at all.
RT: When the trial of Slobodan Milosevic started in The Hague, the Balkans were divided. Some took him for a hero, some for an enemy. Is the same true in the case of Karadzic? What is your personal take on him?
MD: Even though some think that the situation in the Balkans has been fully settled, it is obvious that this story and the question of why it all so happened is not over yet. First of all, all those who committed crimes should be punished. But we have also seen certain decisions made in connection with a political role in this war. And we have seen that those decisions were made based on a belief that there were bad guys on one side and good guys on the other. You cannot attribute responsibility to a state, though.
You cannot blame only one side in a war. In a war, both sides are wrong. And everyone should be punished for their crimes. It is either all or nobody. This applies to politicians’ crimes as well, if there are any, and proven, regardless of whether they are Serbs, Croats, Bosniaks, or Muslims.
RT: Late last year, the Croatian police found about 7,000 documents about Operation Storm against the Serbian population. What do you know about these documents? What kind of information was in them?
MD: Operation Storm was an ethnic cleansing in Croatia. Everything that had to do with Serbs was erased. People were expelled from these territories in Croatia into Republic of Srpska and Serbia itself. We know that unfortunately some major forces, including the US, looked favorably on the operation. What is more, we know that their people took part in planning and carrying it out. And now that we know all that, we realize it is quite logical that the documents were concealed, because should they have been available in their time, they would have revealed the role of Western countries too. As a result of this operation, the Serbs have been unable to return to their homes even until now. In this case, the West once again manifested its tendency to use double standards.
On the one hand, they demand that when Muslims and Bosniaks return to Republic of Srpska, their houses and all their property should be returned to them. On the other hand, the state-owned flats and houses that used to belong to Serbs expelled from Croatia were sold at market prices.
RT: So, were those documents handed over to the Tribunal or not?
MD: As far as I know, there is an ongoing conflict between the Hague Tribunal and the Croatian authorities concerning various documents that incriminate officials at various levels.
RT: How realistic is the Greater Albania project? What threat does it pose to Europe?
MD: Only naïve people can believe that what is happening now has nothing to do with Greater Albania, considering that Kosovo, inhabited by Albanians, has been separated from Serbia, and the state of instability has been constantly maintained in the part of Macedonia where very nationalistically-minded Albanians are living. We will see how the events will unfold, but one thing is clear: the Western countries did everything they could to establish the nation of Greater Albania. Later, they will claim that this is the principle of democracy and desire for integration.
RT: What threats may such a state bring to Europe?
MD: Greater Albania would be a big Muslim state in the very centre of the Balkan Peninsula, and this would create a new reality. We have always been told about Bosnia and Herzegovina that it is unacceptable to have even a small Muslim state in the heart of Europe, so we must all live together in order to avoid having such a state. Yet at the same time they allowed a chain of events, and even helped the process that may produce a huge Muslim state here in several years or decades. I think Europe has very little time left before it sees the situation from an entirely different angle.