TRANSITIONS ONLINE: Interview with Zoran Djindjic: Eight Hours With Karadzic
28 February 1994
``We had agreed in principle even before this to hold the talks with the leaders of the Serb Republic in Bosnia about creating the Democratic Party on this territory. When the ultimatum was issued it seemed to us only natural to go to Pale and express our solidarity with the people in the Bosnian Serb Republic.''
VREME: What was the reaction to your idea on founding the party? What else did you discuss?
DJINDJIC: We agreed not to found the party there until the war is over. We also agreed that the forming of a real political party on the territory of the Serb Republic in Bosnia might be taken as an act of a treacherous competition with the Serb Democratic Party (SDS). There would also be a danger that the members of this organization could get confused, because SDS is more of a combination between the national movement and the state rule than simply a party because of the circumstances. We also discussed their future state system, as well as relations between the political parties in Serbia and the leadership of the Serb Republic in Bosnia. We also wanted to instill a more relaxed attitude in these relations and question the monopoly that the Socialist Party of Serbia (SPS) has over the Serbs in Bosnia which I believe stifles them. On the other hand, if SDS were a classical political party I don't believe it would be close with SPScommunist and socialist ideas do not take root with the people in the Serb Republic in Bosnia. On the other hand, the mention of the Serb Republic in Bosnia causes distrust among some opposition circles in Belgrade. We want to establish fair relations with SDS and lay foundations for our cooperation in the future.
VREME: The head of the Bosnian Serbs, Radovan Karadzic, has so far never failed to give his strong and unconditional support to Slobodan Milosevic ahead of the elections in Serbia, in spite of all attempts of the opposition to ingratiate itself with him. Let's only mention the support of the Democratic Party of Serbia (DSS) when the VanceOwen plan was rejected or Seselj's contribution in breaking down the army rebellion in Banjaluka. Did you have an impression that Pale's attitude towards the political scene in Serbia might change?
DJINDJIC: I think that something is changing. Before the last election there was no explicit support of the leadership of SDS and the Bosnian Serb Republic to the Socialist Party of Serbia. The Serbs from Bosnia have always given their support to Slobodan Milosevic as a presidential candidate but not to his party. The problem is that many opposition parties in Serbia are not perceived to be patriotic. We wanted to challenge this thesis proving that radical demagogy and rough verbalism do not represent a proof of patriotism, that the national interests can be successfully protected with the policy of peace and that a division into those parties which are patriotic and those which are not is not justified. There are no nonpatriotic parties in Serbia. We are different from all political organizations which have visited the Serb Republic in Bosnia so far because of the way we presented ourselves and because of our party mentality. Our hosts (and we talked with Karadzic and some fifteen people in the political and military leadership of this state) told us that no one had enjoyed such a reception as we did. Eighthourlong talks in one day only, mean something.
VREME: It can be heard that a diplomatic action linked to the NATO ultimatum and the withdrawal of Serb artillery from the positions around Sarajevo is actually Milosevic's defeat. Would you agree that politically speaking Karadzic's is becoming independent from Milosevic?
DJINDJIC: I certainly would. This should not be interpreted as Milosevic's defeat, but as a natural process of becoming politically mature. The Serb Republic in Bosnia does not need a tutor. The more Milosevic and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia influence the Bosnian Serbs, the greater is the pressure of the international community on Serbia. Therefore, if Milosevic and Yugoslavia were to be removed from the current diplomatic positions the number of reasons to pressure the Serbs would be reduced and render the economic blockade senseless. The best thing would be if Milosevic announced he was leaving the Geneva peace talks. This would clearly prove that Yugoslavia is not involved in the conflict in Bosnia and that the Serb Republic in Bosnia can protect its interest.
VREME: You said that you discussed the future system with Radovan Karadzic. Whose system?
DJINDJIC: We agreed that the Serb Republic in Bosnia should join Serbia. An interim solution should be reached, and everything should be done in agreement with the international community, which I believe would have no objections on condition there is peace. We, therefore, discussed the future system of our joint state which should not be burdened with ideological dogmas of the socialist bureaucracy. Our common assessment is that this state has to be a parliamentary democracy. I'd like to stress that we were more moderate than our interlocutors when it comes to the pace of changing the ideology.
VREME: After the talks with Radovan Karadzic you said that the ultimatum is the last attempt of the international community at carving out the map of former Yugoslavia. On the other hand, it seems that the pressure of the international community is mounting, the Sarajevo model may be applied on other towns in Bosnia, the preparations for the action around the Tuzla airport are underway...
DJINDJIC: But, one should say that the latest ultimatum was a failure.
VREME: I would say it was accepted...
DJINDJIC: That's what the papers say. The conditions were fulfilled only partially and clumsily, and the international community showed its lack of confidence and knowledge in defining the terms of withdrawal and in speculating about the next moves. In my opinion the threats to the Serbs should be interpreted as an attempt to create a more favorable atmosphere before the talks in Geneva and make more territorial concessions for the Muslims. This clumsy and diluted way can be applied in other places but without much successthe threat did not make an impression as far as the Serbian people and its army are concerned, quite the contrary. Actually, the Serbs favor the international control since it represents a guarantee that the Muslims, who have three times more people, will not try to seize the entire city. Demilitarization of other towns and peace suit the Serbs. They don't have to fight for the territorythey are on their own land and are even ready to make some concessions. What they need is peace and legalization of their status. Therefore, one could say that the ultimatum, although it at first looked like something the Muslims would welcome, actually represents an autogoal to Alija Izetbegovic.
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