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Interview

Visit by B&H Minister of Foreign Affaurs Igor Crnadak, 01. 07. 2015.

 

INTERVIEW: IGOR CRNADAK, BIH MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS

 

Interviewed by: Endin ČAUŠEVIĆ

SARAJEVO, July 2 (ONASA) – Minister of Foreign Affairs of BiH Igor Crnadak in the interview for the Agency ONASA talks, among other things, about the BiH chairmanship over the Council of Europe, BiH’s relations with countries in the region, the resolution on Srebrenica, reform agenda and the European path of BiH …

ONASA: It has been more than a month since BiH assumed the chairmanship over the Council of Europe. How is BiH’s chairmanship accepted among other member states?

CRNADAK: The first reactions are excellent, we had a number of events in this first month that were accepted very well by member states of the Council of Europe. What awaits us is still a significant number of events that will take place in BiH, and the first one is already in August in relation to our priority of a woman in a film, that is, the role of woman in the film and in general about the European film. In September, there is a intercultural dialogue, a conference in Sarajevo, thus I think that the start was good and we have a chance to take advantage of these six months in a good way for BiH.

ONASA: Can BiH, which often did not fulfill its obligations, implement the outlined for the period of the chairmanship over the Council of Europe?

CRNADAK: This is an question that was often mentioned to me before leaving to Strasbourg, and to the Chairman Mladen Ivanić because recently he addressed the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe and it is normal that this question arises because in this country there were too many politicians who have made too promises in the past, and then did not fulfill them. There were too many deadlines that we have broken and therefore exists a great caution towards what comes as a kind of commitment from BiH. This is one of the things that the new structure of government in BiH wants to change. We want to be responsible, to successfully fulfill taken obligations and in this way earn back trust in politicians who come from BiH because I believe this will help us in our European path and to successfully finish all obligations that we have outlined for ourslves.

ONASA: In addition to improving the image in Europe and the world, to which extent can BiH use the chairmanship of the CoE to attract foreign investors?

CRNADAK: I think it is difficult to find a direct link between foreign investors and the chairmanship, however, there are a lot of lateral connections because we have a chance to definitely strengthen our European commitment. Our visibility in the European political arena will be much higher in these six months, and we have a good chance for this to be a major boost to our European integration and the process of European integration we are leading. Through this is visible that we already have good effects, for me, another very important effect is to attempt in six months of the chairmanship to strenghten the European spirit and idea in BiH, because there are still plenty of those who, some knowingly, some unconsciously, oppose to what is really the European perspective of BiH, and that is a different and more orderly system. Which is why I believe it will be good to through events to be organized during the chairmanship in Sarajevo, Banja Luka, Mostar and other cities strengthen the European idea and expand it further in BiH.

ONASA: In recent weeks relations between the countries of the region have entered a certain crisis. (Relations between Croatia and Serbia, BiH and Serbia, BiH and Croatia, Serbia and Hungary). Where is the way out of the new situation and what are the chances that these relations further weaken?

CRNADAK: The only way out is to get back on the right track and continue upward in improving relations in the region and it is especially important that it is on a high level in the triangle of BiH, Serbia and Croatia, because in this triangle is the basis of future stability and development the whole of the region. We had a great start as a new government, a large number of meetings with representatives of the government of Serbia and Croatia, a remarkable rise in our bilateral relations, and then happened the issue with Naser Orić, issue of the resolution on Srebrenica, cancellation of the visit of Serbian President Tomislav Nikolić and all this has slowed down the development of relations with Serbia. I am sorry and I think it is unfortunate that this has occurred as it was unnecessary and I do not think it is good to put any individual or any daily political topic as a higher priority than the development of the two countries such as BiH and Serbia. It is important that we get back on the right track and continue with this process because a large number of individuals and institutions on both sides invested enormous effort so far and assumed certain political risks that these relations improve. Therefore, I expect that we will return to the normalization as soon as possible and continue with the improvement of these relations.

ONASA: When it comes to relations between BiH and Serbia, recently was postponed the visit of Serbian President Tomislav Nikolić, Prime Minister Vučić has not yet decided on his arrival to Srebrenica, there is also an issue about Srebrenica resolution, the indictment against Naser Orić and from before the case of Novak Đukić. How to overcome conflicts and restore relations on a better track?

CRNADAK: We can overcome all of this by looking towards the future. The essence of political action has to be to build a better future for the people we represent. Everything that has happened in the past should be respected and taken into consideration, but it cannot be a brake for a better future for the people who live here. I believe that the time ahead of us will ask for political courage and determination to follow the path of reconciliation, compromise and mutual cooperation as everything else will take us away from the ultimate goal, which is that people who live in BiH live better than they live today. One thing on which everyone from any part of BiH agree is that they expected that 20 years after the war they will live a lot better than they live today. This is a positive pressure that I feel like someone who performs a high position in the Council of Ministers and I hope that colleagues in BiH, Serbia and other countries in the region will understand that the most important thing is to work together and try to economically recover our region.

ONASA: Recently you met with the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, was one of the topics the resolution on Srebrenica?

CRNADAK: At that meeting it was not the topic since I spoke in the capacity of the Chairman of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe. As for the impact of the Secretary General on such activity in a real sense it does not exist, and I think it was not the time or place to talk about the resolution.

ONASA: Do you expect the resolution to be adopted by the UN Security Council?

CRNADAK: It is difficult to assess what will happen with the resolution, what comes are the key dates for the harmonization and discussions. We will see what will happen on July 7, it is possible that the outcome of this whole situation will be know few days earlier. I think this was unnecessary for BiH as it has burdened and complicated political relations at a time when we were trying to build broad consensus for reforms, and when we tried to finally permanently turn BiH towards the road to European integration and the future. This has clearly brought some new divisions and deepened some old divisions and therefore I think it would have been much better if we had without politicization, in the peaceful silence paid tribute to all the innocent victims, and parallel with that continued to work on the reform agenda and improving the economic situation in the country.

ONASA: In the wake of the German-British initiative the request for the implementation of the reform agenda originated. Do you expect BiH to be strong enough to start with the implementation of the reform?

CRNADAK: I expect and hope that both RS and BiH will be strong enough to go ahead with the reforms and I believe that we will, in the next few weeks, have a concerted reform agenda and I think that once it is agreed, we all have to deal with the essence, i.e. the work. We no longer need to empty stories, events and various ceremonies, but now we need concrete things, and this means that many laws, changes in laws and initiatives should begin to pass through the Council of Ministers, FBiH Government, RS Government to begin to pass through Parliament and to begin to be implemented in real life. I do not like saying that there is no alternative, for anything, but I really think that even if there is an alternative to the reforms and improving the economic situation in this country it is disastrous and it is hard for me to imagine how Bosnia and Herzegovina and any part of it would look like in a decade if we were not able to be responsible for implementing at least a minimum package of reforms that are necessary.

ONASA: You are often in contact with European officials, what do they resent most about BiH leaders, do they announce possible sanctions for not fulfilling obligations?

CRNADAK: Currently there is no mention of any sanctions, because we are in a relationship that is still quite positive with the European Union, because it is considered that we have been able to unblock our path of European integration. We signed that European statement, first the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and then the BiH Parliament, we had the activation of the SAA, after seven years, and all of this has created a climate of optimism in European institutions when it comes to Bosnia and Herzegovina. Of course, now there is little concern about these things happening the last few weeks, but from conversations I have had, it is clear that optimism has not yet left the people in the EU, there is a greater degree of caution and monitoring of what is going on, but I think we still have people in Brussels who believe that a new European approach of Bosnia and Herzegovina is a great chance. They still expect that we will take advantage of this chance in a smart way. The two steps that follow will determine everything that will happen afterwards, and that is agreement on this initial reform program and coordination mechanism. There is still optimism, there is no mention of any sanctions and it is expected that we begin with the concrete results, and the first measurements of what we have done will be through the adoption of the reform program and the coordination mechanism.

ONASA: How hard is it to be the head of BiH diplomacy, given that there are usually two or three different opinions on an issue in this country?

CRNADAK: I would say that it is difficult or easy, I think that any public job anywhere, and especially in Bosnia and Herzegovina is extremely difficult and responsible. However, the fact is that the job of foreign minister in BiH is very specific. How hard it is to operate, not only to me as a Minister, but also to ambassadors and other diplomats, one can see in the case of the resolution on Srebrenica, because Bosnia and Herzegovina, to which the resolution relates mostly, has no official position about it, and I as a Minister have sent instructions to our mission claiming that BiH does not have the attitude and that they can not participate in any discussions. Attitude should be determined by the Presidency that has completely different views and opinions and simply there is no attitude. In such conditions, sometimes it is very difficult to do this job.

ONASA: How do you assess the current work of BiH Council of Ministers?

CRNADAK: I am a member of the Council of Ministers and can not make assessments, but what I can say is that the atmosphere among the ministers is quite good and I think it is still in the stage of development. Only in the coming period we can expect a very responsible and serious stage where they will expect the first act and the first serious initiative and we will then be able to make real assessment. What we have now is a good atmosphere and a joint commitment to reforms and the fact that we are dealing with the essential things that are of life importance. How successful we will be, will be best judged by the public, and the time will show best. (end)