Relations with Serbia are improving, while Bosnia-Herzegovina will not recognize Kosovo in the foreseeable future, Bakir Izetbegovic has said.
Izetbegovic, the leader of the SDA party and the Bosniak (Muslim) member of the country’s tripartite presidency, made these statements for Turkey’s Anadolu news agency.
“I do not believe that we will recognize Kosovo in the foresee ale future,” Izetbegovic said, and explained this was also “the assessment of Minister of Foreign Affairs Ivan Crnadak” – because, as he said, “we have strong resistance from politicians from the RS (the Serb entity in Bosnia) and also from (Serb) Presidency member Mr. Mladen Ivanic.”
“Without Ivanic,” noted Izetbegovic, Bosnia-Herzegovina cannot recognize Kosovo.
“As far as the visa-free regime (with Kosovo), we don’t have it either with some countries that we recognized 20 years ago and who have recognized us. We won’t be able to do the thing with the visa-free regime, but we can very much facilitate the issuance of visas. They could be issued both in Skopje and Belgrade and that’s being worked on, to make this procedure easier and simplify it in order to achieve intensive communication, because at this moment both economies are suffering because of this slow communication,” said Izetbegovic.
Although relations between Bosnia-Herzegovina and Serbia are improving, Izetbegovic said there had been “certain crises in the past period that have been successfully overcome.”
“A severe crisis happened during the incident that occurred in Srebrenica (when Serbian PM Aleksandar Vucic was attacked), but we overcame it. I think we have by and large overcome it. After that, Mr. Vucic came to Bosnia-Herzegovina a couple of times, the last time to Srebrenica. Obviously we have a desire of the Serbian side to improve relations. We will respond in that way. Of course it’s still all mostly at the level of words, but one of God’s books says ‘first was the word’. All is preceded by a good or a bad word. This time these are good words and I think they will be accompanied by good and positive processes,” said Izetbegovic.
He also described joint projects in the region, such as the Adriatic-Ionian highway, as “a very realistic thing.”
Speaking about the recent decision of the Serb Republic (RS) to end its cooperation with the Court and the Prosecutor’s Office of Bosnia-Herzegovina and the State Investigation and Protection Agency (SIPA), he said that “powerful people in the RS are defending themselves.”
“They want to halt the system that they fear will one day knock on their door and ask them where they got some villas in Belgrade, where their got their vast estates, where hundreds of millions of (Bosnian) marks from banks that are collapsing in the RS have disappeared to,” he said.
Speaking about the Serb entity, he said that “at one time things there went pretty well,” and mentioned “the sale of Telekom.”
“Loans had been taken out, salaries increased in various segments, and now it is all going backwards, people are becoming poorer, their lives are increasingly more difficult,” said Izetbegovic.
Soon, he predicted, “that same people will start to ask how come people whose salaries are a couple of thousand marks have valuables worth a couple of million euros, how they got that.”
“The people will not be the only ones asking, the prosecution will also ask that, and therefore the goal is to stop the prosecution, to make it dysfunctional, to take away its jurisdiction in that part of Bosnia-Herzegovina where these politically powerful people live,” said Izetbegovic.