Bosnia and Herzegovina first needs to ensure mechanisms that would make the country functional and prevent political blockades and then, sometime in the future, the country should adopt comprehensive constitutional changes that would “return what the soul of Bosnia and Herzegovina is” - a multiethnic, integral country, the leader of the strongest Bosniak ethnic party, Bakir Izetbegovic, told N1.
Izetbegovic, the leader of the Party of Democratic Action (SDA) and a member of the House of Peoples, spoke about a number of issues with N1’s Ika Ferrer Gotic, including the setup of Bosnia and Herzegovina according to the 1995 Dayton Peace Agreement, which ended the Bosnian war and contains the country’s Constitution.
He said the country should at some point achieve a new agreement, a ‘Dayton 2’, which must entail comprehensive constitutional changes such as those that were contained in the ‘April Package’ – a proposal that was on the table more than a decade ago but narrowly failed to be adopted by the Parliament.
The April Package aimed to introduce a single president and vice-president who would be elected by the Parliament, as opposed to the current three presidents who are elected directly. It would have also strengthened the role of the Parliament, change the role of the upper house and strictly define which issues can be considered a vital national interest.
“After the April package, there was an offensive of retrograde forces on the scene. I don’t know what else to call those who honour war criminals and make fun of genocide. So, this has to be stopped first. BiH must be given mechanisms that will be able to unblock these blockades,” Izetbegovic said.
“And then at some stage in the future, we have to reach Dayton 2 that would bring back what the soul of Bosnia and Herzegovina is – this is a multi-ethnic country, which must not be divided. I think that will be the end result, BiH with multiethnic regions,” he predicted.
The setup of Bosnia and Herzegovina, specifically the way the country is divided into two semi-autonomous entities and ten cantons in one of them, represented a guarantee that “nobody will be able to dominate” after the war, he said.
However, he added that it is unlikely that “any Serb in Republika Srpska is glad that, in their poverty, Croats or Bosniaks are even more miserable than Serbs.”
“Does it make Serbs happy when they have the lowest pension and when their children leave the country for Europe? Only the rule of law will bring prosperity,” he said.
Izetbegovic said that Bosniaks, and probably Bosnian Croats, would be prepared to adopt the integral draft of the April Package and that support should be secured from Serbs as well. He said that he believes Serbia’s President, Aleksandar Vucic, would also be prepared to “support thinkings that are on the line of stabilisation and create a functional state.”
The SDA leader also spoke about the “democratic wave” that he said was coming with the election of Joe Biden in the United States.
Biden “spoke, testified at a time when it was difficult in BiH, when there was a war and when crimes and genocide took place,” he said.
“He spoke when others calculated,” Izetbegovic said.
He noted that Biden also endured a personal tragedy and “developed empathy for people who have a hard time.”
“He participated in the creation of the Dayton Agreement and the creation of peace in BiH. So BiH is his project. We can expect him to take concrete steps given his campaign promises as well,” Izetbegovic said but noted that it should not be expected from Biden to “deal with the Balkans immediately” as there is a “rebellion” ongoing in the US at the moment.
“But I expect that by the end of 2021, there will be pressure from the United States, coordinated with Brussels, to make Bosnia and Herzegovina a functional state,” he said.
But it is unlikely that the situation in the country can not be changed with a mild approach, he argued.