Bosnian FM: Turkey is our home as well
In an exclusive interview with AA, Zlatko Lagumdzija charged European Parliament Rapporteur for Bosnia and Herzegovina Doris Pack that she is favoring further division of Bosnia
by Erol Avdovic
NEW YORK (AA) – The Prime Minister Erdogan’s words on Kosovo were taken out of context, and he and Foreign Minister Davutoglu as well as President Gul are all statesmen who showed friendship and leadership, Zlatko Lagumdzija, Foreign Minister of Bosnia and Herzegovina said in an exclusive interview to AA on Monday in New York.
“I know they feel in our region at whole like at home and they are calling all of us -- to feel like at home when we are in Turkey,” Vice President of Council of Ministers and Bosnian top diplomat told AA.
- Equal friendship for all
Talking in front of thousands of people in city of Prizren, in Kosovo, Mr. Erdogan said on October 23rd - that "Turkey is Kosovo and Kosovo is Turkey," saying also the two nations' shared history and culture within well known common ties.
But, that comment angered Serbian government, which said – Mr. Erdogan's words represented "a severe violation of international law and interference in Serbia's internal affairs." Serbians warned that those comments will "harm relations between Belgrade and Ankara.”
Turkey was first to recognize independent state of Kosovo when it broke away from Serbia in 2008; so far more than 100 UN member states recognized Republic of Kosovo, but Belgrade refuses to do so, and continue to block acceptance of Kosovo to the United Nations.
- No favorism by Ankara
Mr. Lagumdzija told AA -- any comment from Turkish leaders should not be taken maliciously in the region in which Turks are proven friends. Asked, whether he, as a Bosnian, feels neglect or subordination because the minister Davutoglu said Turkey is a equal friend of everyone, regardless that many Bosnians would expect favoring them because of historical and deep family ties with Turkey - Lagumdzija said – that was not the case.
“I don’t think any one of us should be fighting to be on first place. Turkey is such a great country that is not interested in having any one on the first place comparing to each other. Because, Turkey is a country that is definitely trying to have a positive impact in the region,” Mr. Lagumdzija said in an interview to Anadolu Agency.
Bosnian Foreign Minister said -- all countries in the region “should be at least satisfied by the fact that such a great country – politically, economically, culturally, socially, such a great nation -- is offering us to feel like at home, and asking them (Turks) to feel like at home when they are with us.”
“More friends we have we feel in Bosnia like at home, and more friends that are calling us to feel in their own country like at home – better for us and better for the better global world,” Mr. Lagumdzija told AA.
Dr. Zlatko Lagumdzija is a professor at University of Sarajevo at Faculty of Economics and leader of the Social Democratic Party of Bosnia and Herzegovina. He is currently serving as Minister of Foreign Affairs in the Council of Ministers of Bosnia and Herzegovina. He is a member of the Madrid Club, (Club de Madrid) – the organization with a network of world-class experts who work together to assist countries and offer assistance on a range of democratic reform issues.
- Bosnian status quo
On Monday, Mr. Lagumdzija held a lecture on Columbia University dedicated to “Post Dayton Bosnia”. At the lecture he expressed regrets that this agreement has long helped to maintain status quo in Bosnia.
In Dayton, Ohio, after almost four years fighting, in November 1995, war came to the end in Bosnia and Herzegovina – after peace accord brokered by United States was signed by late Bosnian President Alija Izetbegovic.
Talking to the academic audience at the prestigious Columbia University, Lagumdzija said, while Dayton was “hundred percent good for bringing peace to Bosnia,” – it is an agreement that allows ethnic exclusivity, even segregation and less “inclusive and shared society.”
“Bosnia should be shared not segregated society,” he said.
Asked whether Dayton could be changed at all, bearing in mind that U.S. holds it as one of its greatest diplomatic achievements, and thus - is in fact hesitant to accept any fundamental changes, Dr. Lagumdzija told AA, that he disagreed with this assessment.
Yet, he recognized Dayton Peace Agreement became an interference itself:
“Unfortunately – we have been stocked in certain aspects and country does not move in more functionality and more efficiency of the state institutions,” Mr. Lagumdzija said. He added Bosnia was still “moving in right direction,” although repeatedly agreeing, “Dayton is one of obstacles for Bosnia to move faster forward.”
“Dayton at the same time has a preconditions to move from Dayton to Brussels phase,” Lagumdzija stressed.
- Third millennium modern Bosnia
“What is most important for us is that by transforming our country – we get off from this policy of segregation, policy of exclusion, these policies of intolerance, these policies of getting back to past and divisions – and go to the policies of cooperation and shared societies instead of segregated society, in which all we – Bosnians and Herzegovinians will be part of civil society of Bosnia and Herzegovina but never forgetting who we are in sense of our religions and our ethnic feelings. If we can put it in that way: the ethnic structure of modern Third Millennium Bosnia and Herzegovina in which we all are what we are – Muslims, Catholics, Orthodox and Jews – but at the same time Bosnians and Herzegovinians citizens of modern Europe,” Lagumdzija said.
Asked to comment on European Parliament Rapporteur for Bosnia and Herzegovina Doris Pack who accused explicitly him, to be working against a solution to the Sejdic-Finci issue for changing of the Dayton constitution which supposed to be agreed on meeting in Brussels on October 1st, Bosnian Foreign Minister told AA – he was rejoiced to have “just her polling and charging him with this”.
He also mentioned, they ideologically disagree, saying - “Pack is on the right” and he is “on the left side of political spectrum”:
“I would be unprivileged if she said I was nice and then talking of her lines of thoughts. Yes she is right. I am the main, probably I was the only obstacle on October 1st in Brussels, and when SDA (Party of the Democratic Action) brought their solution on this issue, in which they actually said Federation is to be divided in two very precise areas, I was against,” Lagumdzija complained shoving, as he said, a “new map of the division of Bosnia and Herzegovina,” offered in Brussels on October 1st.
- Against ethnical segregation
“Doris Pack is advocating that Republica Srpska is giving one member of the Presidency (collective head of state), that part of Federation is giving another one, and (again) part of Federation is giving the third one. This is obvious ethnically marked territory. One color for Serbs, one color for Croats, one color for Bosniaks,” Lagumdzija explained showing the colors of the map.
“If Doris Pack figured out that I stopped this – she is right. I can imagine that she is sad and sorry that I did not accept,” minister Lagumdzija said.
According to the Dayton Agreement, the joined state of Bosnia and Herzegovina was set on the basis of the two entities. Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina is still dominantly multiethnic part of BiH -- while another one, “Republika Srpska” (RS) was confirmed by Dayton Agreement in 1995, although that territory was ethnically cleansed by the Army of Bosnian Serbs, which included the genocide against Bosniak Muslims in Srebrenica in the summer of 1995; the majority of Bosnian Serbs are now living in the entity of RS.
“We don’t like to live in isolated, segregated slots in Bosnia and Herzegovina. People of Bosnia and Herzegovina did not deserve to live in ethnically segregated hills or valleys,” Bosnian Foreign Minister Lagumdzija concluded in a interview to AA.
He added, he will “fight to the end against division of Bosnia in three ethnic territories.”