WED, 19 FEB 1997 20:55:08 GMT
INTERVIEW: SEJFUDIN TOKIC, Vice-President of UBSD, and Deputy in B&H Parliament
AIM Sarajevo, 16 February, 1997
At the initiative of the Union of Bosnia & Herzegovina Social Democrats, a shadow cabinet is being established. Names of the new alternative prime minister and his ministers will be publicized, as expected after the final meeting convened to be held on Tuesday (18 February) in Banja Luka. That is the reason why we are talking to the President of the Executive Board of the UBSD, Dr Sejfudin Tokic.
* Mr Tokic, according to the still unconfirmed information, you should be the shadow prime minister. Could you tell us who the ministers will be?
- Neither has the prime minister been designated yet, nor have the names of the ministers been stated. The truth is that there are between twenty and twenty five agreed names whose distribution in the project of the alternative ministerial council have not been determined yet.
* Although unofficially a lot has already become known about the personnel composition of the shadow cabinet. Allegedly, you will be the prime minister, and Zeljko Ivankovic (Croat Democratic Party) and Milorad Dodig (Independent Social Democrats of the RS) will be the deputies.
- In principle, a lot has been defined already and cannot be considered as disputable, but not a single official information in the sense of personnel solutions has been given to the public. In the course of this week, we will have final talks and we will probably definitely determine the names which should then be published in a day or two.
* Shadow cabinets are usually formed as a means for correction of the official governments. You have announced yours before the Council of Ministers even started operation. Certain opposition leaders, such as former communists inside the SDP reproach you for having proclaimed the official government as inefficient even before it has been able to achieve any results?
- The fact that we have initiated the activities concerning formation of the alternative ministerial council even before the Government of B&H has been officially established is the result of our knowledge and experience concerning the concept of operation of the authorities. We don't believe that the problem of the authorities of the Federation and the Republica Srpska, nor that of the Government of B&H, appears because of the persons in them but because of the policy they pursue. Our attitude to the Ministerial Council is the answer of the alternative to it. Texts and statements have appeared in public that the official Government should be given some time, that it should be given space to show what it can do. Had the situation been normal and had we lived in a differnt country, probably we would not have come out in the open with the idea of the alternative cabinet, but we would have waited for the customary hundred days. But any other government would have been formed much earlier than this one formed of three-party coalition of the SDS, the SDA and the HDZ. It should be kept in mind that almost a hundred days have passed since the elections before the Council of Ministers was formed. Time has shown that we were right. Tall stories, fancy talk about patriotism are of no use to anyone. Both the Serbs, and the Croats and the Bosniacs, live worse than 90 per cent of the Europeans in any part of Europe. In this sense we are becoming the darkest part of the European continent. I believe that our idea about institutional interconnections of the opposition is in fact synchronization of activities of all those who represent civic ideas in B&H. I claim with all responsibility that criticism of ordinary people against the existing regimes is nowadays much sharper than that of majority of political allegedly opposition parties.
* Who is gathered around the initiative for formation of the alternative council of ministers?
- The shadow cabinet has neither been nor shall be formed on the basis of a coalition, but on the basis of the political concept of democratic alternative. Political support to the shadow cabinet was offered by all civic initiatives united in the civic alternative parliament. We consider this to be a significant support. Among political parties, relevant support has come from six parliamentary parties: the Social Democrats of Republica Srpska, the Social Liberal Party, the Union of the Left of B&H, the UBSD, the Croat Peasants' Party and the Muslim Bosniac Organization. It is also very important that the initiative was discussed by the Council of the coalition Associated List and in a way offered its support.
* And yet, they have not all decided to participate in the work of the shadow cabinet?
- As far as I have seen the statements of the leaders of both the SDP and the Republican Party of Stjepan Kljuic, the latest stance was that for the time being they would not take part in the shadow cabinet following the logic that the Ministerial Council should be given a chance. It is a paradox, but there were less doubts about this initiative by the ruling political parties. Through the statement of Hasan Muratovic and Edhem Bicakcic, the SDA made it clear that this was a legitimate, known and quite founded manner of gathering of the opposition.
* Maybe the ruling parties do not consider you to be a serious enough and dangerous enough competition and have not been sharp on that account?
- In what way do you mean dangerous? Priority objective of none of the people who lead the UBSD, nor those who head any political or civic organization is taking over power. Coming to power and providing of an official minister's post for oneself can easily be achieved and without much trouble. The best example for it are Rasim Kadic or ministers from the so-called Civic Democratic Party of Ibrahim Spahic, who have won a minor number of political votes, but are in the Government. Thanks to their "love" with the ruling SDA, of course.
* You are reproached the most for the fact that men from the Serb entity will participate in the shadow cabinet, who have allegedly neither recognized B&H nor have, as it is usually said here, condemned aggression.
- It is interesting that such criticism is coming from political parties and individuals who have lightly accepted presence of men in the Presidency and the Government who, I responsibly claim, belong to the category of those who could easily end up in the Hague. As concerning the alternative, especially Milorad Dodig and Miodrag Zivanovic, I believe that such stories are a campaign against these people and quite unfair, because whoever wished to follow political developments in B&H, could have observed that both the one and the other party headed by these two leaders from RS, through documents signed in Perugia, and even before that, have clearly declared themselves in favour of the Dayton accords even before they were created.
* How many ministries will the shadow cabinet have and where will the ministers meet. Will you, like the Council of Ministers, meet "twice at our place, and twice at your place"?
- The cabinet will have only one seat - in Sarajevo and all its meetings will be in Sarajevo. It will have only one chairman - and by this we wish to show that we are ready to implement the Constitution of B&H and the Dayton Accords - two deputies and seven ministries (for foreign policy, development, the economic system and communications, protection and return of refugees, exercising of rights of citizens, principles of social policy, science, education, culture and sports). Every minister will have one deputy, and the cabinet will reflect regional and national representation. The shadow cabinet will communicate and be in constant contact with the European Commission and other competent institutions which are present in reconstruction of B&H. The shadow cabinet will appear at gatherings as an alternative or as an observer at all gatherings where the official authorities of B&H appear.
* The shadow cabinet, as a model of correction of current authorities, is frequent in the democratic world and highly developed countries. To which model will your cabinet be like?
- It is difficult to link circumstances in B&H with those in any other country in the world, especially with developed European countries. The thing which is in Europe self-understood and in a certain sense acquired by birth and citizenship is an ideal for us which we are engaged for and ready to die for. In this sense we have no clear ideal, but the shadow cabinet is to a certain extent conceived in the manner in which the opposition is organized in Scandinavian countries, in Great Britain or Germany. Of course, the disposition of the ruling parties in these countries is quite different than ours. For instance, in Great Britain, the shadow cabinet is financed from the state budget, and representatives of this cabinet are invited to all the significant meetings where the strategy of the future of the coutry is determined. Because the future of the country cannot be the monopoly and the exclusive right of the current authorities. This is obviously something the ruling parties here have not understood. They do not realize that, for example, the SDA is just a short episode in the long history of B&H.
* Imagine for a moment that your cabinet leaves the "shadow" and comes to power. What would be its priorities?
- It would completely turn to the problems of life of ordinary citizens. Under the pretext of resolution of global, patriotic, state problems, a series of families from circles close to the ruling party profited. Nepotism was created, a structure of people known only to South American systems was created. We will try to talk in a completely different way. We will try to avoid the skilfully synchronized activity and propaganda of all the ruling parties in which they always suggest to us not to talk about incompetence of our governments, shortage of gas, difficult living conditions, because our enemies are listening. And similarly, in Republica Srpska, when someone puts the question why Krajisnik and his family have everything, while the others have nothing, then they say that the problem is created by the Muslims and "those on the other side". Nowadays in Republika Srpska the propaganda and logic of hatred for the other nation is being created. Similar is the case here in the Federation. We will, therefore, start with the quite contrary, positive concept.