Željana Zovko

Objavljeno: 12.1.2021.
Večernji list BiH

[VL BiH] Civic BiH possible through three communities

The announcement of the arrival of the new High Representative and the initiative announced by the EU Special Representative Johann Sattler and the US Ambassador Eric Gordon Nelson on a number of reforms, including the Election Law, will make the year 2021 extremely challenging in BiH in political terms. The main role in this should be played by the Europeans, i.e. Germany, with the strong support of the United States. MEP Željana Zovko welcomes the renewed interest of the EU and the USA, but points out that the most important agreement is the one to be reached between the representatives of the three communities in BiH.

Večernji list: In recent days, we have witnessed the announcement of a stronger engagement of the USA and Germany in BiH. What are your expectations in that direction?

Zovko: My expectations are not high if the interests of the three constituent communities are not considered in the context of possible changes to the constitution. I think it is clear to everyone, at least outside the country, that any change in Bosnia and Herzegovina must be local and based on an agreement between the existing constitutional categories, i.e., three peoples. A stronger engagement of the Biden administration at the moment is just a chimera of some individuals in Sarajevo and a kind of nostalgia for the time when BiH was the focus of CNN; of that part of the international community that uncritically supports the Bosniak desire to majoritize  the whole of BiH. Currently, the CNN is busy with its domestic affairs, as is the U.S. administration. As I have already emphasized, the focus and solutions need to be found on the basis of European solutions, which we have proposed on several occasions in the European Parliament. The solution of the majoritizing of BiH is in line with the proposal of the American diplomat, Warren Zimmermann, who in 1992 advised the Bosniaks to give up on the so-called Cutileiro’s peace plan for a future independent BiH. Zimmermann expressed regrets in his book. But the Zimmermann syndrome, let us call it that, is side-stepped in deliberations on the possible intervention of the Biden administration.

Večernji list: It has been announced that within these changes we may expect the actual High Representative Valentin Inzko to leave the country and the new HR, Mr. Christian Schmidt, to take the position. What does that mean?

Zovko: In Transatlantic thinking, there is a perspective that Europe has the lead on  Bosnia and Herzegovina policy. In the past, Europe has largely yielded to Washington because of the Dayton Accords, while Washington has always encouraged Europe to take the lead at some point. Maybe this is the first time this is about to happen. If Germany persists in its proposal, we will only find out in April what lies behind their political intentions.

Večernji list: In the Sarajevo political milieu the dismissal of the OHR leader is interpreted as a “pro-Russian operation”, supported by Germany in the interest of Dodik and Čović?

Zovko: Mr. Inzko has been heading the Office of the High Representative for twelve years, and in international affairs such positions usually rotate after three to four years. It is enough to recall the mandates of the previous High Representatives. In short, the time has come for Inzko to rotate, and I have been dealing with this issue since my last term in the European Parliament. I have been clearly expressing my view that the OHR budget, which is partly financed from IPA funds, should be gradually reduced and that the OHR should be moved to Brussels, so that the EU Delegation in Bosnia and Herzegovina can have a lead in implementing the European policy. Why would the citizens of the European Union be paying for two “chairs” and the accompanying administrations in Sarajevo? If Mr. Schmidt is appointed, I will continue seeking an answer to that question.

Večernji list: Do you think Dayton 2 is realistic or is there the process of evolution to follow?

Zovko: We’ve moved so far away from Dayton 1, that it’s not realistic at all to talk about Dayton 2. Essentially, Dayton 1 no longer exists. I think this was quite clearly documented by the Judge Mato Tadić in his book on constitutional changes made to the detriment of Croats. According to the facts set out in his book, Dayton was changed in order to devolve the constitutional, political and administrative power of the third constituent community, the Croat-majority community, which consists of the Croats  and their neighbours and other supporters of co-existence in that community.

Večernji list: Obviously, everything is being done in order to bring BiH closer to the EU. Does this mean a definite end of the “constituent” communities, as interpreted by pro-Bosniak political options?

Zovko: Here we are obviously returning to policy of “wishful thinking”, which is not realistic. One cannot simply erase the foundations of a society like Bosnia and Herzegovina. The Republic of Croatia is very clear in its position on this issue. Constitutivity is a permanent category and a basis for any possible new constitution in the future. Civic BiH is also possible through three communities. Bosniaks advocate a civic option through majoritarianism. If they advocated for it through the three communities, then they would have my support as well.

Večernji list: Where do you see a solution? You are building everything on federalism, and you mentioned the example of the Football Club Zrinjski from Mostar in one of the discussions as a metaphor of a solution?

 Zovko: The football club „Zrinjski“ is a majority-Croat club, and it is made successful by individuals of all nationalities. If I remember correctly, there was a period when the defence was mostly Bosniak, the middle mostly Croat, and the attack mostly Serb. I don’t know how it is today, but this shows that all three communities in BiH are multi-ethnic, i.e., civic. This is another model of civic BiH, one that would be accepted by both Serbs and Croats, because everything already exists. The model of majoritarianism, offered by Bosniaks and a part of the international community, is not feasible.

Večernji list: Bosniak leader Bakir Izetbegović said that he would not agree with a solution to the changes to the Election Law with the Croatian leader Dragan Čović without the consent of Željko Komšić. What does that actually mean?

Zovko: We know that Mr. Komšić is another, more radical face of Bakir Izetbegović. He serves the purpose of that policy and he is not asked anything.

Večernji list: Bosniak politicians are still advocating foreign interventionism in BiH, while Croats and Serbs are demanding their departure. Is it time to end the tutoring over BiH?

 Zovko: Yes. If Bosnia and Herzegovina wants to join the European Union, that is a condition.

Večernji list: Local elections were recently held in your hometown Mostar, which were compromised by attempted election fraud and manipulation of ethnic voter transfers. How do you comment on that?

 Zovko: Let’s wait for the end of the lawsuits regarding fraudulent voters.

 

 

 

 

 

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