Bosnia-Herzegovina (BiH) Presidency member Bakir Izetbegovic has told Germany’s Deutsche Welle broadcaster that he “hopes BiH will recognize Kosovo.”
Tanjug reported earlier in the day that this Muslim (Bosniak) member of the country’s tripartite presidency said this would in fact happen – and “should have been done before.”
“As far as I’m concerned, Kosovo should have already been recognized. Now our colleagues will be angry, and our attempts to make it happen have only created problems inside BiH, without helping Kosovo,” Izetbegovic said – and “when asked directly whether BiH would recognize Kosovo, briefly replied, ‘Yes’,” Tanjug reported earlier on Monday.
But the agency said on Monday evening that Izetbegovic’s media adviser contacted them “with a request to clarify his statement” – because, he said, the way it had been reported by Tanjug earlier “posed a political problem.”
The adviser, the agency continued, “rightly pointed out that Izetbegovic’s response was, ‘I hope yes’,” – rather than, “Yes.”
It is clear that without the consent of the other two members of the Presidency – representing Serbs and Croats – Sarajevo cannot recognize Kosovo – and this is something Izetbegovic confirmed during the same interview, by saying: “If Serb representatives in BiH oppose that and everything else, there is no decision.”
Reacting to the original report, Serbian Interior Minister Nebojsa Stefanovic told TV Prva earlier in the evening that he expected Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic to call a National Security Council meeting within the next 48 hours.
“We will discuss the response of the Republic of Serbia. This introduces instability in the region, it is not a good-will gesture, and it causes additional divisions between the Serbs and the Bosniaks – and a lot has been invested to improve those (relations),” Stefanovic said, adding, “We’ll hardly be able to continue as if nothing had happened.”
The Kosovo prime minister several months ago urged BiH to recognize Pristina’s unilateral declaration of independence – which Belgrade considers a violation of its territorial integrity, sovereignty, and Constitution – and provoked an immediate response from Serb representatives in BiH institutions.
BiH Foreign Minister Igor Crnadak said in late September that BiH would not only not recognize Kosovo – but would not even consider it.
The president of the Serb entity in BiH, the Serb Republic (RS), also confirmed that Kosovo would not be recognized.
“Without the consent of the RS, Bosnia-Herzegovina cannot and will not recognize Kosovo – since all parties in the RS have reached a consensus on this issue,” Milorad Dodik said.
“If the RS produces a second half, I think it will lose – I hope politically and not militarily,” Bakir Izetbegovic said during the same interview, apparently reaching for a sporting metaphor.
“This is not a country we would like to have, and which my father (Alija Izetbegovic) stood for, and which citizens of Bosnia-Herzegovina (BiH) deserve. But above all – it is a state that has survived. That is the first thing my father fought for,” Izetbegovic told Germany’s Deutsche Well, speaking about the situation in BiH.
According to him, with all of its problems, internal blockades and brakes – BiH is going in the right direction, but too slowly.
Asked what he would do “if the Serb Republic (RS, the Serb entity) goes the way of Catalonia” and declares independence, Izetbegovic replied: “I will do what all patriots in this country will do to defend what we gained the right to through the fight from 1992 until 1995, and even with the Dayton Peace Agreement itself.”
“Let’s turn the question around: how will they split BiH?,” asked the Bosniak member of the Presidency.
Izetbegovic said that “the Dayton Peace Agreement, history, the Constitution, as well as interests of countries in the Balkans, including Serbia” are on the side he represents.
“The interests of Europe – that there is no war in BiH, then in the Balkans, again, .because it got it once from this same city 103 years ago – is on our side. We will have all these powers on our side in order for such an adventure not to happen,” said Izetbegovic.
Speaking about the scenario under which the RS secedes, Izetbegovic said that “the majority will be on the side of defending the territorial integrity of BiH.”
“If they produce a second half, I think those who produce it will lose – I hope politically, not militarily,” he said.
During the interview, the Bosniak member of the presidency also spoke about “the issue of Sandzak (an area in southwestern Serbia), a third entity in BiH, and he was asked whether he is Erdogan’s man in the Balkans,” Deutsche Welle said on its website.