Mr Igor Radojicic is the president of National Assembly of Republic of Srpska. We`ve talked with him about political and economical position of Republic of Srpska, Bosnia and Herzegovina and the region. Mr Radojicic has told us what were the main interests of Srpska and what were the hardest problems as well.
Mr. President, is the independence the main goal of official policy of Republic of Srpska?
I would say that the main goal is strong Republic of Srpska. Political position is dependent on two subjects. The number one are local issues, public opinion, citizens` will. The number two are international circumstances and international balance of powers. The region faced the periods of changes and the periods of status quo in the last several decades. In the period of changes we saw breakdown of Yugoslavia, independence of new states, but now it seems that we live in period when international superpowers want status quo in the Balkans and they try to protect it including the unilaterally declared independence of Kosovo and respect of territorial integrity and sovereignty of Bosnia and Herzegovina created by the Dayton Agreement. Our goal should be to get strong as much as it is possible in these circumstances.
The original Dayton constitution of BiH provided very decentralized BiH. In the last 15 years we faced practical process of revision of this constitution. These changes brought more centralization of BiH that was not a will of citizens of RS. We are strong supporters of original Dayton constitution with very decentralized BiH.
What is the most important interest of Republic of Srpska?
There are both political and economic interests. We cannot neglect any of them. Our interest is to be politically stable and live in peace with others and to decide as much as it`s possible about our own destiny. Economically, our interest is to reach the level of economic development which should help with realization of our political interests and give better conditions of life. . That wouldn`t be easy considering global economic crisis.
What is your attitude toward Bosnia and Herzegovina? In your opinion, how should look normal and prosperous BiH?
Bosnia and Herzegovina has been object of international interfering for last 150 years, from 1878. and the Berlin Congress until the Dayton Agreement in 1995. Eight states changed here in Banja Luka in this period.
I believe that only very decentralized model can act in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Some foreigners belive that BiH should be more centralized to be functional. I don`t agree with that opinion. I think BiH can be functional only if it`s decentralized. It can function with its original Dayton structure. And that will act until subjects decide something else. I repeat, it is obvious that foreign subjects have been influencing significantly on BiH during the last 150 years.
Republic of Srpska policy must be realistic. We should ask for more decentralization. The serious policy isn`t adventurous one. Our interest has to understand other local and foreign interests and to try to balance in all this.
Are you satisfied with the fight against corruption in Republic of Srpska? Is the corruption problem in Srpska?
The corruption is a problem in Srpska, but not the endemic one. It`s not just the problem of Srpska, it is problem of all modern nations, it is the problem of the whole region. Sometimes when we listen to media it seems that it is a unique problem of Srpska or BiH but it`s not so. Of course, this is very attractive subject for political conversation and political attacks.
If one is serious to fight against the corruption it must be treated systematically. It is naive to believe that i.e. one act of parliament can solve the whole problem. It is not enough to make an act that would check the property of politicians. This is just a detail. We need more solutions, we need systematic approach, strategy and action plan in legislative, executive and judiciary.
So, it`s about plans, it`s about legislation, it’s about will too deadlines and it`s about institutions. If one doesn`t talk about systematic solution then it`s just about politics. The problem won`t be solved that way.
What is the biggest problem in Srpska?
There are many and it is difficult to take only one. The pressure of unemployed people simply can`t be ignored. I feel it. The answers can`t be simple, especially it is not only the local question. The economic problems as result of global crisis are big in region, EU and all world.
In this moment the economic problem is our biggest problem but all other problems in Srpska are connected with this problem. The political problems, national tensions, problems of corruption-all these problems can be radicalized because of economic crisis. In the past some totalitarian systems and ideologies had origins in economic crisis because this is good ground for different radical ideas.
Is there enough courage in RS institutions to do „the hard moves“ to help the national economy?
What are those „hard moves“? Are we talking about less public spending? Some economic experts doubt that this could really help economy. I personally agree with them. If we keep on cutting the public spendings we will face the less consumption. The less consumption will affect negative on production, trade, income etc and it is going gradually down again.. It`s clear that situation isn`t as simple as it seems sometimes. Many ecomonists belive in the approach to overcome crisis through investments and pushing the growth, not restrictions.
I hope that in spring time the government will propose a set of laws regarding business climate in RS, especially about the registration of companies that should make faster whole registration process and significantly cut the administrative costs.
You talk about improving the process of company registration. What is about the process of company liquidation?
That`s another problem. This is too slow process. A few years ago new law has been adopted but it is still very slow process. Personally, I think it must be changed again because the process of liquidation of companies lasts for years.
On the other hand, specific question is what to do with public companies. What to do with them when they are on the edge, when they are so close to bankruptcy? They can be liquidated but we must remember that they have some public role, they provide public services. What to do with them and with public services if they have to go in this slow process.
Yet there is another problem. In RS economy everyone owes money to everyone. A huge percent of companies is not liquid. The judiciary don`t do the proper job with it, the private property isn`t protected good enough. How to solve this problem?
This is compensation. It could be one possitive measure that would help to the part of the problem in one moment. But the one consequence of the crisis, just one. For example this year we`re planning to adopt a law which could regulate multilateral general origin is the crisis. The lack of money, the lack of investments, the lack of financial resources cause the problems in companies. So again it`s about fight against economic crisis. This is the key.
What do you think about EU integration of the region? What is the future of relationships within Balkans?
There is fatigue on both sides. EU has problems, especially economic one and EU is not ready for new members and won`t be ready for new members for years from now. Important countries, like Germany, are not happy with new members coming. And we know this.
On the other side, it seems that some domestic politicians here in BiH lost enthusiasm, euphoria for EU. Election campaign in 2006 was much more about EU integrations comparing with the campaign in 2010. In last three years we have made just some small progress in completing current conditions of European Union. The other side, EU side, is not pushing too much because EU is not enthusiastic inside itself with new members to come very soon.
So, it will be very slow process. EU must overcome economic crisis first but additionaly, they have structual organized problems. USA, China, India, Russia, Brasil-all those nations are more and more important today. Global world is changing very much. This is the question which EU must seriously consider.
Ok, if it`s not EU then what is it, what is our goal? Is it Turkey?
Turkey? Good question. For Banja Luka not. Interest of Banja Luka is Europe. What else? Where else? Geographically we belong to Europe. Traditionally we belong to Europe. It`s Europe where we belong, with our orgin, our culture and tradition too, not the Organization of the Islamic Conference or something else. But this will be challenge for Sarajevo. I`m completely sure that politicans in Sarajevo will face the challenge to choose strategic orientation between Turkey and islamic world (on one side) or EU ( at other side).
Can Srpska keep good relationships with both Russia and EU?
Russia has repeated several times that it is not against EU membership of BiH. On the other side, Turkey tries to build new regional picture. Turkey today is not what Turkey was ten years ago. Turkey wants some new inffluences in Balkans and those inffluences are not euro integrations of the region. Those integrations are more east oriented. And there is no problem with Russia, but it would be Turkey or some other islamic country. This could be great challenge for Bosnia and Herzegovina.
What Srpska can offer to the Europe and to the whole world in economic, cultural, tourist or any other way?
Republic of Srpska is small. Still, we do have interest to be in this euro familly. It is obvious that like the other small countries we would lose a part of our sovereignty in EU but what is alternative? We can deliver to Europe our cultur heritage, our traditional values, our tourist potentials which aren`t used still enough.
We need foreign investments which would help us to use our tourist and other potentials. We need foreign investments to make good capacities in Jahorina, Tjentište and other tourist places in Srpska. Now we do not have enough our own money to do so. Sometimes I feel that many do not want foreign money either. We must change our perception and a kind of claustrophobia. We must open this place to the world and show our potentials.
What is your vision of Republic of Srpska in 2023?
I`ve already said that this is very unstable and unpredictable region. So it`s very difficult to predict five years from now. I hope there would be peace and growth in that period because there have been to many wars in the recent past. It is crucial that any possible change (political, economic or any other change) that might happen in the future should be done in peace and through normal discussion.
You say you „hope“. What will official policy of Srpska do to fulfill interests of Srpska?
We must be patient and stubborn with defending and defending our own interests. Also we must be realistic and understand where our limits and strong foreign interest are. If you don`t do so you risk useless adventures and even to make longterm damage for citizens interests.
We must be very smart and also very stubborn sometimes when it`s about our legitimate interests. We must understand that we haven`t been favorites of many important subjects. Still, we must learn how to make compatibile our own interests with the other interests. We must find the way how to put our interest in this great global picture.