Purely Islamic state set up in Europe
In Kosovo, a Muslim state has been allowed to spring up in the heart of Europe, says Milorad Dodik, the Prime Minister of Republika Srpska, one of the two parts of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
RT: What you make of the latest allegations against you? Do you think that they are politically motivated largely because of your ties to Russia?
Milorad Dodik: Of course the last thing you mentioned is a factor, but the main issue is the fact that foreigners, mainly westerners, have created institutions which they wish to keep under their control. Both the prosecutor’s office and the criminal investigation unit, SIPA, are under their control, and in the past, whenever they wanted to destroy someone politically, they would use those instruments to try to discredit him. There have been several instances where high public officials, who were unsuitable from the standpoint of western officialdom, were prosecuted on concocted charges, only ultimately to be acquitted by the court.
A notable example is that of Mr. Sarovic, a Serbian member of the Presidency, against whom the prosecutor’s office filed charges under pressure from Paddy Ashdown. He was kept in prison for a year and then ultimately exonerated in court. So there is a clear pattern where politicians who are not to the liking of the West are first demonized in the media, and then prosecuted on trumped up charges in an effort to destroy them politically.
This time around they miscalculated, and they failed to take into account our determination, and mine in particular, to see this through to the end. We will show them to be wrong. It is relevant to point out that the director of SIPA asked that the officials who were involved in this witch hunt be dismissed because they tried to set up an illegitimate parallel structure under the control of foreigners. This demonstrates that the main troublemakers here in Bosnia and Herzegovina are foreign factors, who are trying to hold on to their control and influence. Clearly, it is very convenient for them to keep their well-paid jobs in Bosnia and Herzegovina instead of being transferred to Iraq, Iran or Afghanistan, where they would encounter real hardships. This is why they keep trying to find or fabricate problems.
So this story about me that they’ve fabricated must be seen in that context, and it will, of course, ultimately fail when it is properly scrutinized by the judicial system. Their goal is to show that there are issues and criminal structures in Bosnia and Herzegovina which make their continued presence here indispensable. It makes no difference to them that they have hurt me, my party, and the republic of Srpska, because they are not here to support and strengthen local institutions, but to undermine them and to turn them into obedient tools.
RT: How would you describe the economic and political relationship today between the Republic of Srpska and Russia, as one of the guarantors of the Dayton Peace Accords?
M.D.: Yes, of course, Russia is one of the guarantors of the Dayton Agreement, and we’ve always viewed with joy Russia’s economic recovery and its return to the world stage as a significant player. That is not at all in dispute. That status, that Russia now has, helps the republic of Srpska by creating a more balanced correlation of forces. The republic of Srpska generally has had a negative connotation in the west and we were always being treated as offenders, even when we had done nothing wrong. So I think that Russia’s voice can contribute to clarify things in a more objective way.
Russia’s goal in this region is a stable peace that opens the way for co-operation with us. The basic pre-condition, which is the economic strengthening of Russia, has made it possible for Russia to enter other markets including our own, and that is why it came here. And I can frankly say that in all areas where I have worked with the Russians in economic matters, these were the most positive experiences that I’ve ever had and we’ve always had the best possible results.
RT: What are your views on Bosnia and Herzegovina joining the European Union?
M.D.: That is an option that we have supported and we can hardly avoid it because the other countries in the region are traveling down that road. We think that joining the EU could contribute to the stabilization of the region. However, we are not prepared to sacrifice our autonomy in the Republic of Srpska for the sake of any process of integration, including that of the European Union. Of course, there are many within the European Union who do not like to hear this, but the fact is that the internal affairs of various countries are not a proper subject of concern for Europe. We realize that certain conditions have to be met on the way into the European Union, and we are not opposed to that. What we reject is using European integration as a vehicle for the restructuring and re-composition of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
RT: How do you see the future of republic of Srpska in Bosnia and Herzegovina?
M.D.: That is an open question. It is a question that permeates our everyday and long-term issues, and the position on that question will vary depending on relations within Bosnia and Herzegovina at any given time. The thing that is fundamental for us is the permanence of the Republic of Srpska. It is beyond challenge and it is the Republic of Srpska that must function with all the competencies with which it was endowed by the Dayton Agreement. It must have its own institutions, its own government, its own president and parliament, its own way of life and, of course, its own place within Bosnia and Herzegovina. That is the only way that the framework called Bosnia and Herzegovina can be sustained. Otherwise, if we have to choose between Bosnia and the Republic of Srpska, we will always choose the Republic of Srpska. We are not questioning the framework called Bosnia and Herzegovina: it is a given. It is the result of an international agreement with many signatories, including ourselves. Bosnia and Herzegovina is a member of the United Nations, with corresponding privileges. But within that framework, we want to retain the full measure of our autonomy and to exercise all our rights, and we want to fully safeguard all our interests within Bosnia and Herzegovina.
RT: How do you see Muslims, Serbs, Bosnians and Croats living together in the future? Isn’t that something that Tito tried to achieve and failed?
M.D.: All these years there has been talk of living together, but that, of course, has to be on the basis of mutual respect without anybody imposing their own will upon the rest and without anybody being out-voted. And of course, just when we thought the issue of ethnic relations in the former Yugoslavia had been resolved, a brutal war broke out in which no-one was innocent. There are just people who suffered more and those who suffered less, and greater and lesser war criminals. But these are effects that should be dealt with by legal institutions.
Of course, along the way to European integration, we have to make some adaptations, but only on condition that everybody’s rights are respected, and that no-one is humiliated and imposed upon in the process.
RT: Is a multi-ethnic state possible again in the Balkans?
M.D.: We heard from people from the West when Kosovo’s independence was proclaimed, that living together was impossible there. Allegedly, that was the basic reason for separating Kosovo from Serbia. But now we hear them say that a multi-ethnic life must be built in Kosovo itself. That is a very strange position, because if multi-ethnic life was not possible a year ago, how could it be possible in the future? It is the same here. It depends how you define your basic terms. If by multi-ethnicity you mean peace and security for all, I accept that. That is something that I have to provide for everybody. Peace and security is a pre-condition for everything else. When we talk about the European Union, we cannot say that anyone who joined it has therefore lost their identity or whatever attributes of sovereignty they brought into it. So this is our way of looking at that issue. But if what they have in mind is to wipe out national identity and to promote multi-ethnicity at its expense; that is something that simply will not work at all anymore.
RT: Would the Republic of Srpska ever deal with an independent Kosovo?
M.D.: No, not until Serbia settles its own relations with Kosovo. We had a completely absurd situation where many in the West thought, when Kosovo declared its unilateral independence, that the republic of Srpska was just waiting for that moment to declare its own independence. There was fear of destabilization here, and many were concerned about the possibility of armed conflict as well. But the Republic of Srpska sailed through it all peacefully, aware of what it can and cannot do. We are not a separate country but we can influence the organs of Bosnia and Herzegovina, which will never recognize an independent Kosovo. For that decision to be made, the consent of the Serbs is required, and it will never be given. I am not saying that Kosovo should be returned to Serbian sovereignty at any price, but a portion of Kosovo – yes. The portion of Kosovo that is inhabited mainly by Serbs should be allowed to remain in Serbia, following the same principle upon which the Albanians relied in order to separate from Serbia.
RT: It has been proven that the 9/11 attacks on the US were planned in Bosnia and some of the attackers in fact had Bosnian passports. The same is true for Spain and Mumbai. Why are western countries not cracking down more on Islamic fundamentalism in Bosnia and Herzegovina?
M.D.: Clearly the west has an issue with the Islamic world, and they need an oasis where they can say that their conflict is not with Islam as such, but only with extremist organizations. Of course, that relationship is more complex, and oil fields and the like in various Arab countries are also a big factor within it. When western countries recognized the independence of Kosovo, that was touted as proof that the West is not opposed to Islam as such, although, semi-officially, quite a few western officials have stated that they will never allow a purely Islamic state to be set up in Europe.
Of course, there is a paradox, because in Kosovo they have allowed a Muslim state to spring up, but in Bosnia they would not permit Serbs and Croats to separate, leaving Bosnian Muslims in control of a state of their own. Experience has shown that there were a significant number of Mujahideen in Bosnia and Herzegovina during the war – about 4,000 – and that they were being trained for operations not only here, but elsewhere, to the point where no important terrorist operation was undertaken anywhere in the world that did not have a link to a Mujahideen unit that had been based in Bosnia and Herzegovina during the war. We know that there are still about 140 Mujahideen in the Federation who have married local women and formed families here, and four or five of them were sent to Guantanamo. Now the issue is what to do with them: should they be returned to Bosnia and Herzegovina? A significant number of Bosnian Muslims think they should be allowed to come back here, but we think they should be sent to their countries of origin, although, of course, if that happens, they might have to face charges there. So this is a very complex and frustrating question to which there are no clear answers.