In an exclusive interview for Central News (Centralni Dnevnik – CD) with Senad Hadzifejzovic, the former mayor of Mostar Safet Orucevic gives a candid critique of the last round of negotiations on status of Mostar. Without any hesitation, Orucevic sends a message to the strongest Bosniak and Croat parties in BiH that their idea ‘is not going to pass’.
On the attempts to divide Mostar, Orucevic clearly says that only fools and primitives can do that, and invites citizens of Mostar to raise their voice against this kind of changes.
The former first person of Mostar warns that, in 2002, when he left the mayor's seat, the city was in a completely different state than it is today.
- When I left Mostar, all issues were resolved. We achieved equality not of one, not of two, but of all three peoples in Mostar. It was like, Mostar arranged like Dayton. Therefore, Mostar that had a mayor and mayor and President of Council from the third ethnic group.
What I left behind was a city council with 10-10-10 councilors, which was signed by Gojko Susak, Franjo Tudjman, Alija Izetbegovic, Safet Orucevic, Mijo Brajkovic and Muhamed Sacirbey. We will find those who are responsible for this, it does not have to be a group, it can well be an individual. We will find those who are responsible for Bosniaks and citizens of Mostar being now endangered in Mostar, says Orucevic.
Orucevic underlines that there are neither Croat nor Bosniak municipalities in Mostar, and that the fact that Bosniaks are endangered is mainly caused by the top government in Sarajevo. This seasoned politician has a very clear opinion about goals of Croat people in Mostar.
- We know very well what HDZ want. HDZ want a predominantly Croat city and, by the virtue of voting, to start running Mostar as their capital city. That is what they wanted at the time of my mandate as mayor, yet they did not succeed. They wanted one Croat municipality but I did not let them have it – there is no such thing as Croat and Bosniak municipality, says Orucevic.
FACE: Mr Orucevic, during the war you fought for one and whole Mostar, at the end of the war, you fought for the same. You were winning that fight. You did that together with President Izetbegovic. Now the initiative for division of Mostar comes from SDA. It comes for the political party headed by Bakir Izetbegovic. How do you comment his decisions? How do you comment the fact that he allows division of Mostar, and his father did not allow division of Mostar? That he allows for plan of Tudjman and Boban to be implemented and that he lets Covic see that plan through, the one you did not allow to happen back in 1992 and all the way through 2016?
Orucevic: I do not know very well the political structure of Bakir Izetbegovic. I know him only as a person; he is a good friend of mine from war times and we know each other very well. I have underlined that his role in the war was far larger than most of people think and wish to reduce it. Politically, I cannot evaluate him, but this is not going to pass, most definitely. Mostar citizens will not let this happen and he cannot do that with his SDA. There are other parties, he can't decide on his own about destiny of Mostar regardless of number of votes he acquired.
There is a whole group of patriotic parties that are not going to let this happen, I am absolutely sure. SDP, DF, SBB as their coalition partner; Nasa stranka, I also saw reactions from BPS and so on and so forth... one entire front. It is Mostar front. BH front. Imagine someone saying we are going to abolish Brcko, it is no longer going to be District, it is going to be the territory of Republika Srpska. What do you think who would rise against that – everybody would! Same goes for Mostar. We can't let the idea of two Mostars. Not even in symbolic sense, not even a little bit of this, a little bit of that. Those are bedtime stories for children. I don't know who stands behind that, but I think he has taken a wrong turn.
FACE: What do you then have to say about his moves given that he is considered the first Bosniak? He is the president of the strongest party. And all this happening between SDA and HDZ has consequences for Mostar.
Orucevic: That is the danger. Should this have such a consequence, than it could turn into something even bigger. We have to accept that Croats have to resolve their Croat question. Great, but we have to know how they are going to resolve it. This way of handling Mostar is leading to territorial handling of Bosniak and Croat issues. Each of those is allowed, equality each is needed, including that of Croat people everywhere; I'm sure they are endangered, I have seen it myself. Therefore, a full equality has to be given to them; only territorial equality and territorial division are out of question. That cannot pass.
FACE: Could this initiative lead to establishing of the third entity?
Orucevic: I think it would well be a trigger. It would trigger solutions for Croat question in other areas by which Croat municipalities would be requested. Than Croat and Bosniak 'stains' would appear all across Federation. We all know what Republika Srpska looks like – that's not how I see Bosnia and Herzegovina. What I do see is a difficult historical period that we have to live through. Unfortunately, it is not going to be easy because the war was hard but BiH will outlive us all. BiH has international borders, BiH has been saved, yet it is important that its interior structure does not break it into pieces.
FACE: How do you comment political moves of Dragan Covic? Since he came to power at the last elections, he got everything he wanted. And, as it seems, he will get what he wants even when it comes to Mostar?
Oručević: No, I don't believe he will get that. I absolutely do not believe. There is a Serb side and their hands (votes) and they too take part in decision making. There is also a certain number of Bosniak hands; I think that SDA will remain alone on this. That's what I think. I could also be wrong, but this will not pass. I think it could trigger other bad solutions for BiH, but there are many other forces. HDZ is fighting their own battle. Dragan Covic is a wise politician. Wise, he knows what he is doing, for his people and let it be so. He fights and fires shots and that is his right. What's on the other side is important.
FACE: Why do not Bosniak leaders do that?
Oručević: Well, let them!
FACE: But we see how they work!
Orucevic: Well then, we will criticize them! Then we have to talk about who and how and where is representing us! If Bosniak leaders want it that way, the question is if they really want or do not want BiH as such? It is too soon to tell and I'm not competent to talk about things that may happen. I can only talk about this particular moment in time.
FACE: What is the worst thing that can happen?
Orucevic: Surely those are people who do not wish for war. Last summer, Center for Peace gave them Charters for Peace because we are convinced that the three members of Presidency are not people who are for war. Had it been for the previous leaders, with problems like these, people would have been fighting again. There would have been war again. Therefore, these people do not want war, they will try out all peaceful solutions, they will take the country to EU, they will fight for integration into NATO. However, they will continue to outsmart each other as regards internal issues. They will try to outsmart each others and we should not stop them.
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