The Washington Agreement
Time and Place
Tuesday, 22 February 1994 (Washington)
It is difficult to arrange the days in retrospect, because time has shifted. We flew for nine hours on Sunday, setting off at 11:30 a.m. that day and arriving here in the afternoon at approximately 2 p.m. They say that it takes less time to fly back from here. The position of this country in relation to Europe has already determined its fate: space means nothing and time is everything. Here you do not travel through space and you do not live in space; you do not think in terms of space. Time is everything: the journey, life, and thought.
Never before during this war have I felt nostalgia when away from home. Life was determined from within, and I produced events for myself with no time to look back and no time to rest. Nearing the airport in Washington, I looked out at the landscape through the window – at the winter-tinged greyness – and I thought of those who had conquered this deserted and empty land. I felt nostalgic for my Bosnia, tortured and wounded, like a terminally ill patient expecting help from anyone thought to have a cure. We are the country’s outstretched arms. People there are afraid and desperate, already without hope. My Bosnia – compressed into hills, rocky terrain, gorges and narrow valleys – can fit into the palm of one’s hand. Here, this vast, flat landscape awakens in me a sense of dread, a feeling of being lost and a feeling of nostalgia. Here, a man feels small and powerless. But, power resides here, too. Here, our fate could change.
Yesterday, we were received at the State Department and we talked for a long time with associates of the State Secretary and then with Christopher himself. I have the impression that they are determined to become involved in solving our crisis, but that they still do not have a clear plan. They are still not sure what to do about the Serbs and how relations between Croats and Muslims can be regulated. It is only clear that they want to become involved. They were encouraged by the effect of the ultimatum issued to the Serbs that they must withdraw the heavy artillery from the hills around Sarajevo. During our conversation, it became clear that they were well informed about our situation. Silajdžić spoke about the situation in its entirety, the course of the talks in Geneva, and the progress of talks with Croatia. They indicated that they were in favour of a union between Muslims and Croats, but were uncertain about everything else. I presented the plan of our Assembly, which they were also already informed about (evidently, Ambassador Viktor Jakovich had informed them well). It seemed to me that our suggestion of a cantonal organisation was acceptable to them. They were afraid of Tuđman’s reaction and of whether he would accept the plan. At one point, they asked what the Muslims would suggest in case Tuđman did not agree and what kind of state they would like if BiH were to be divided into three states. Silajdžić avoided answering the question and I said that in that case, the result would be a Muslim state with approximately 400,000 Croats. Therefore, we Croats cannot accept such an option and this statelet would retain all the existing problems. After that, another interesting question was posed that I had not expected: in case an agreement was not reached with Tuđman, would it be possible to make an agreement between the Muslims and the HNV [Croat National Council], and for me to sign the agreement on behalf of the Croats? The United States would be ready to support such an agreement and would insist on its implementation. In that case, Tuđman would have the status of Karadžić and would have to bear all the consequences of that status. Silajdžić said he feared additional problems would arise and the situation would become more complicated because the problem does not lie in the political representation of Croats but in their military representation. Tuđman controls the HVO [Croatian Defense Council].
I was surprised that the Americans were thinking along these lines. I had already suggested such an agreement to Silajdžić and Izetbegović before the Assembly met in Sarajevo, and we had initially agreed on it in principle. I seconded Silajdžić’s opinion on the problem of control over the HVO. I suddenly realised that in this case, Croatia would be deemed an aggressor and sanctions against it would be imposed. Furthermore, the HVO would be considered a paramilitary organisation and the Americans would perhaps use their forces against it. But how to separate the Croat people from the HVO? At this stage, it is impossible. I would just be a cover for military intervention. I quickly asked, “How would this agreement be implemented?” “Don’t you worry about that. We would implement the agreement using force if necessary,” Christopher answered. Expecting such a reply, I stated without hesitation that I could not take on such a responsibility: “The agreement must be signed by those who can implement it and those who control the army. That is Tuđman and the representatives of „Herceg Bosna.‟” “Ok,” Christopher said, “Granić and the „Herceg Bosna‟ delegation will be here for the weekend.”
The Strategic Importance of the Croat-Muslim Alliance
Today is the third day of intensive talks with the American administration. We have met with a large number of senators and congressmen, various committees, minority and majority leaders, the Speaker of the House, people from the government, Christopher and his associates, National Security Advisor Anthony Lake, and today, with Madeline Albright and Vice President Gore. Their plan is clear: they want to ensure the fairness of negotiations by using military pressure in the form of an ultimatum (modelled on the case of the Serbs around Sarajevo).
An important step in this direction is an agreement between Croats and Muslims, because this would not only solve existing problems and end the war between them, but also put additional pressure on the Serbs and open up a different position towards them. (Mate Granić and his “crew” have been invited to Washington from Zagreb.) All the people we have been in contact with have shown great understanding for our efforts to preserve BiH both as a state and a united territory. This was particularly apparent at the meeting with minority and majority leaders. (I think that Bosnia and Herzegovina is a rare issue that these groups agree on.)
Today, Vice President Gore and Albright clearly defined the American plan for Bosnia and Herzegovina: they want an alliance of Croats and Muslims, a “united republic,” which would significantly impact the actions of the Serbs. They want the territory of this republic to be determined, and they want the republic to be functional. Both stressed the fact that the ultimatum for Sarajevo has created a favourable moment for a Croat-Muslim agreement, that this moment should not be wasted and that we need to be flexible in our demands towards the Croats. Gore emphasised that it was possible to overcome the existing differences and that this should be done over the weekend. Also, it was pointed out that the US would guarantee the implementation of the agreement if it were reached and would be prepared to deploy troops in Bosnia and Herzegovina for that purpose only. In all the meetings, Silajdžić demanded that the arms embargo against the Government of BiH be lifted. They replied that this was a complex issue and that the US could not simply bring into question the institution of the embargo upheld by the rest of the world. This could have a negative effect in areas where the US is interested in maintaining an embargo, such as Iraq. Despite the fact that the US is against the embargo imposed on the Government of BiH, it cannot be the only one to violate it. Albright gave us hope that the ultimatum could be expanded to include other areas and that the list of “safe havens” could be extended to include Mostar, Vitez and Maglaj. We suggested also including Brčko and Gradačac.
The atmosphere surrounding the talks is very positive, and I believe that the US administration will insist on reaching an agreement. I fear Granić’s position. Last night on HTV [Croatian Radio Television], Tuđman tried to justify the US interest in preserving BiH, but again, he took the wrong approach. He claimed that the West wants to diffuse the danger of the spread of Islamic fundamentalism and is therefore insisting on a confederation of Croatia and BiH. He constantly sees himself as playing some kind of historic role, as a leader of Western politics. This is all fine and well as long as it is merely an excuse for changing a policy that has so far been unsuccessful. If he truly believes all this, it is dangerous. In that case, an agreement will be impossible. The Muslims should be treated as partners and not as outsiders that supposedly need to be saved from themselves and that the world needs saving from. If they arrive from Zagreb with such ideas then even the US administration would be of no help, and this great opportunity will go to waste.
Today both our delegations met at the State Department, but we did not hold any bilateral talks. Instead, we spoke individually with Charles Radman, the mediator in the talks representing the US administration, and with his associates. They wanted to separately gather from each delegation their ideas on the principles according to which an agreement could be made. We presented our position, which was already written in the Assembly documents that were revealed a few days ago. This position included the following points:
- the Croat-Muslim entity that can be agreed upon under the present conditions must not have any ethnic heraldry and cannot be divided along ethnic lines between Croats and Muslims.
- the solution must leave the possibility of Serbs joining this state organised along federal lines at a later date.
- the cantons (regions) must not join into states along ethnic lines.
- the state of BiH must be decentralised.
- the cantons should be formed according to various criteria and not only ethnic criteria.
- all regions (cantons) must be equal.
- national interests must be protected through state institutions and at all levels of government.
- and BiH will enter into a confederation with the Republic of Croatia.
After Silajdžić presented and explained these principles, Radman asked me to explain the map and the principles according to which it was created at the Assembly in Sarajevo. I spoke briefly for the sake of clarity and to avoid unnecessary questions. I said that the main principle behind the formation of the cantons was the gravitation of population. Therefore, river basins were the centres around which territorial units or cantons were formed. I also spoke of the fear of majorisation among the Croats and the fear of secession among the Muslims. I insisted that the agreement must do away with these fears.
After this relatively brief meeting, Christopher received both delegations. (Granić’s delegation from “Herceg Bosna” consists of only Akmadžić and Zubak, who has already taken the place of Mate Boban.) The conversation was cursory. However, Christopher took the opportunity to state how a “single entity” for the Muslims and Croats would solve many problems and make room for new tactics and strategies. According to him, this will enable international institutions to approach the entire problem in a new way, especially when it comes to the two states (the Republic of Croatia and the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina). He also said that a “single framework” between us would overcome all the conceptual differences to date.
After this brief reception with the Secretary of State, there was a lunch organised in the same space where the negotiations are being carried out. After lunch, the hosts gave us a written draft of the competences that would be divided between the federal level and the cantonal level as well as the joint competences of the federal state and the cantons. We had no major objections to the draft because it was, in fact, simply a copy of our proposal. (Evidently, our hosts have completely accepted the cantonal concept of structuring BiH that we had adopted at the Assembly).
Surprisingly, we were not called back for a further meeting. Only Granić and his delegation received a briefing. Silajdžić was called in for a brief meeting in private, and another joint meeting was scheduled for tomorrow at 10:30 a.m. Silajdžić told me that he had the impression that Granić was giving up on a Croat state in Bosnia and Herzegovina and is coming around to our cantonal system (which he had actually already accepted in Zagreb during our talks).
This is the most important step and only technical issues remain. Without ethnic states there can be no struggle over ethnic territories. The other problems can be solved through compromise. Silajdžić was probably pleased with the turn of events, and he suggested that instead of returning to the hotel we take a walk through the city.
Today I saw this city for the first time. We walked around Capitol Hill and visited the Library of Congress and a number of important buildings arranged around the Capitol in the direction of the Washington Memorial. All the sights were impressive: the architecture, the landscape, the layout of the streets, the parks. Different styles are united here in a refined manner without clashing. It seems as if the city arose in ancient times, developing throughout the centuries. The interior of the Library of Congress is particularly impressive. Even the architecture indicates that the Library is a temple. The huge central dome covers the reading room and the height of the arch creates a feeling of being up in the sky. Inside, it is as quiet as a cathedral. The National Library is a mirror for the state, a testimony to its power and prosperity. In Sarajevo, the National Library burned down in a single night. The vandals from the hills set it on fire.
During the night, Granić sent me a message that he has accepted Steve Bubalo’s invitation to a dinner Bubalo plans to host for both delegations. Steve, Ivanković and Radielović will come from the West Coast just to attend this dinner. This testifies to their nostalgia for the homeland and their desire to see this stupid war end as soon as possible. These people need such small pleasures: we should talk to them and give them hope. In their minds, they are still somewhere in Bosnia or amidst the rocky Herzegovina landscape. Their heart still skips a beat when such places are mentioned. After all, they gave up peace and comfort, risking their lives to come to our Assembly in Sarajevo. Fra Ivan Bubalo, a member of the HNV [Croatian National Council], came to Washington at my invitation. I have already planned a tour of America to visit our refugees and immigrant communities. We need to explain to our people the essence of the agreement we are working on and will surely sign. I wanted to do this together with Fra Ivan and I was pleased when he showed up immediately before the reception. Nobody knew him. Excited by the atmosphere, I hurried to introduce him to everyone – our people as well as the Americans and our hosts. When I introduced him to Zubak, there was a brief pause in the handshaking and the introductions. Fra Ivan looked at me in confusion and said, “But we already know each other.” Zubak mumbled something that I did not catch as we disappeared into the crowd. Later, when we were seated at the table, Fra Ivan explained that he knew Zubak from the time of communism when at the Court in Doboj where Zubak was president, he had been interrogated as a young theologian. “They would not leave me alone. Every summer when I went home, they would torment me. What is he doing here?” Fra Ivan asked in confusion. (I was also confused because I knew nothing about Zubak.) In general, the atmosphere at dinner was very pleasant.
I have not felt so at ease since joining the negotiations. I had a heartfelt meeting with Bubalo and the others from Los Angeles and there was honest and friendly dialogue with our partners in the talks, without subterfuge, hypocrisy or malice. I was in seventh heaven. After a few honest introductory remarks, the atmosphere became completely relaxed. I went from table to table in order to speak with everyone, wishing I could embrace everyone there. “My Lord, have I lived to see this day?” I kept repeating to myself, more as a mantra than out of surprise. It has been a long time since I was able to sleep so peacefully.
The American Tour
March 1994 (Cleveland)
Tonight, we met at the Croatian Home with Croats from a large community that has settled in this northern American city. We had been warned that our people here were divided, that propaganda had turned people against each other and that a certain Nogalo character, the president of the local HDZ branch and the man in charge of the Croatian radio station in Cleveland, was particularly to blame. (Today he spoke out against me and spread false information on the radio.) Still, the small hall was filled with people of different ages and both genders. A relatively large group of people came in late, crowding in at the edge of the hall by the exit. Some of them remained standing. I was told that Nogalo was among them.
After an introduction by our gracious host, Petar Oroz, a name familiar to Caritas workers in Bosnia because of the aid packages that he sends, I began my speech. I explained the essence of the peace plan that has been achieved in Washington. As I spoke, I observed the faces of the people in front of me. No one blinked as they looked at me intently, often interrupting with applause. Judging by their expressions, most of them approved of what I was saying, and it was obvious that a heavy load was being lifted off their shoulders. Their worried expressions began to melt away revealing a radiance beneath. Fra Ivan spoke after me. He spoke slowly and persuasively about the need to organise ourselves and the conditions that compelled us to hold assemblies in Posavina, central Bosnia, and Sarajevo. He also spoke about the official position of the Church regarding the situation in BiH and the need for the Church to advocate the protection of its congregation. He was greeted by the same look on people‟s faces, the same approval. When the Q&A session began, those against the Washington Agreement and for war with the Muslims took the podium. The reactions from the rest of the audience indicated that these people were in the minority. After two and a half hours of discussion, we stayed on for some informal conversation. Many people came up to us, greeted us warmly and everyone supported our efforts to end the war, to find a modus vivendi with the Muslims and to preserve BiH. Even those who had seemed against all this during the Q&A session came up to us. It is apparent that our people need information, that we need to speak with them and guide them. I was surprised at how many of my neighbours from Kiseljak, Fojnica, Kreševo, and other areas in Central Bosnia were among them. Everyone was concerned about the situation in Bosnia, and everyone was pleased that the conditions for ending the war have been created. Most of them expressed a desire to return as soon as possible.
Wherever we went, I was left with the same impression: people were overjoyed at hearing about the agreement because they saw in it an opportunity to end the war.
Before our arrival in Cleveland, we had visited Los Angeles and Chicago. In Los Angeles, our hosts were Bubalo, Ivanković and Radielović, and they organised a meeting for us with a large group of respected Croats. In Chicago, we also met with the leaders of important Croat institutions as well as with Muslims who had gathered the night before at the mosque.
Everywhere, we encountered the same problem: HDZ has created discord among our people and divided them from the Muslims. They have disseminated even worse propaganda here among the immigrants than back home. People are disoriented and confused. The Washington Agreement does not fit in with the propaganda, and the propagandists have found themselves in a difficult position. They can neither accept something they were against only yesterday, nor can they reject what “their president” in Zagreb is now proposing to them.
Yesterday I received information that the working groups in Vienna have begun drafting the BiH Constitution, which should be completed by the 15th. Charles Radman is also in Vienna with his people, assisting in this process. I hope that there won’t be any major obstacles to drafting the text of the Constitution on the basis of the Washington Agreement. In Washington, we tried to reach clear formulations that would leave no room for debate. Of course, it was not easy to resolve some of the issues, and that is when the assistance of the American administration and the pressure they applied showed itself to be very important. It became clear that an agreement would be reached the moment the concept of ethnic division was abandoned in favour of a federation of cantons. Only Zubak and Akmadžić created problems. They wanted to incorporate “Herceg-Bosna” into the agreement at any price. When this proved unsuccessful, they fought with a passion for greater competences in the cantons and as little authority as possible for the state. Zubak in particular insisted on this. He wanted to keep all the more important state functions at the cantonal level. This was not in accordance with our plan or with Radman‟s intentions. At times, Granić was bewildered. On one occasion, he came into our hall with tears in his eyes. Silajdžić and I went up to him. He said that he didn’t know what to do with them anymore because they were constantly on the phone with Šušak, and they would only follow his instructions. Silajdžić suggested that he speak to the President. “But I can’t,” he said, “The President is up in the air.” We started laughing although he was obviously very upset. “What do you mean „up in the air‟?” we asked. “He is visiting Albania and right now he is on the airplane so I can’t reach him,” Granić tried to explain. Luckily, Radman was keeping everything under control, and we could delegate these problems to him. He solved them by applying pressure, but still some of the solutions in the agreement remained lacking. During the last day of the talks, everything almost fell apart.
I thought that the agreement had been finalised because the signing was already scheduled for 6 p.m. At approximately 4 p.m., Izetbegović called from Sarajevo and by Silajdžić‟s reactions I could tell that Izetbegović had some kind of special demands that could not be incorporated into the agreement at this time. Silajdžić was angry, and he even asked us to give him privacy in the hall so that he could finish the conversation. We went outside, and I do not know what he said to Izetbegović and what they talked about. In any case, after that conversation, there was some commotion: Silajdžić spoke hastily with Granić and then with Radman. He told me in private so that the others could not hear that Izetbegović had asked for the internal structure of BiH to be adapted to a presidential system. We had been guiding the negotiations in a completely different direction and had reached an agreement about a strong government and a parliamentary system.
In the end, we compromised to solve this issue and introduced the function of the co-president of the state. That night, the official signing of the finalised agreement took place. Of all those who had participated, I was the only one not present. At that moment, I was flying to Los Angeles together with Fra Ivan, at the invitation of Steve Bubalo, Ivanković, and Radielović.
(Not only is my eyesight deteriorating, but also my eyes keep watering and this makes it impossible to write. I have to stop now because the tears are flowing (and stinging) as if I had chopped an onion. I cannot see well.)
March 1994 (Toronto)
Today we arrived in this large, frozen city. Apparently, this is the worst winter in living memory that these parts have seen. From the plane, we could see that the fields were still frozen, as were the rivers and segments of the lakes.
This evening we met with a small group of people, mostly representatives of political parties and organisations from BiH and Croatia (HSS, HSP, HSLS, HNS, etc.). We had a pleasant conversation, full of understanding and mutual respect. All those people are practically in agreement; all of them support a united BiH and the principles underlying the Washington Agreement. A single HDZ member was present, and he was silent the whole time. Those present belonged to various ethnic groups, which resulted in a positive atmosphere for conducting a conversation. People greeted the agreement and the end of the war between Croats and Muslims with joy and understating. It is obvious that this agreement will make their lives easier.
All of them once lived amidst love and understanding. When they spoke, they particularly emphasised the negative activities of the local friar, a certain Fra Ljubo Krasić from the Herzegovina province. Together with some HDZ members, he was the main hatemonger against the Muslims. At this meeting, we found out that Archbishop Puljić had also arrived in Toronto. This could be very important if he has similar conversations with the Croats in Canada and the USA. People here have been poisoned by hate, and they are disoriented.
Puljić could put his authority to good use and contribute greatly to overcoming this situation and to rekindling trust among people.
11 March 1994 (New York)
This evening, Fra Ivan and I completed our tour with a forum at a Hilton Hotel auditorium that was filled to capacity. As in Toronto, the audience came from diverse ethnic backgrounds. People were interested in the specifics of the agreement and the future of both peoples and the state of BiH. There have been very few provocations and misunderstandings during this tour. Toronto was especially impressive because a thousand people had gathered there. They say that the hall in the Croatian Community Centre had not been so full since Tuđman‟s visit. We could not reach the stage. The entire hall was decorated with Croat National symbols. I pointed out to the organisers that there was no BiH flag, that I am a member of the Presidency of BiH and that they should put up the flag at least for the duration of the forum. They said that this was impossible because they did not have a BiH flag. Such a large crowd had gathered that we practically couldn’t get past the door. One of the men trying to enter the hall whispered to me that he had a BiH flag. He said that he would need about fifteen minutes to fetch it. We agreed in whispers that I would create a delay using the crowd as an excuse. At one point, a young blond woman energetically broke through the crowd and reached out to me across a table (it was impossible to pass between the tables). She had short hair and a beautifully radiant face. She was familiar but I could not place her. I stood in place and waited for her to reach me. When she came close, she embraced me across the table and said quietly into my ear, “Jelena Bajina.” It was Jelena Kuliš, the sister of Duško Kuliš from Kreševo. She had also begun a successful singing career before the war cut it short. “My Lord! Are you here as well?” I asked. “Yes. I am here with my husband and my baby boy. I just gave birth. My husband is taking care of the baby, and I simply had to come and see you.” We quickly asked each other about our families, mutual friends, and hometown. In the meantime, the man with the flag had arrived. He carried it under his arm, furled up around a short pole. I told him to unfurl it, lift it above his head and carry it in front of us to the stage. When those present saw the flag above our heads they started to chant. Those who were seated stood up and those who were crammed into the aisles between the tables moved so that we could pass.
On the stage, we placed the flag of BiH into an empty holder. In the first two or three rows women were seated with their faces covered in tears. I seldom seen such exhilaration. Later, during dinner, we were told that surely a large number of those present did not support the agreement or what we were saying but none of them had voiced their disapproval. There was not a single provocative question or any kind of disagreement. This just goes to prove that our people understand the need for an agreement and the need to renounce those things that caused the war in the first place. It was obvious that everyone was impatient to see this agreement happen: the agreement brings about salvation, lifting a heavy burden from their souls. During dinner, our hosts also told me about Gojko Šušak. They more or less said that he had cheated them: he had taken their money and given it to Tuđman as if it were his own. All the while, he pretended to be a rich businessman – an important man in the Croat immigrant community – which is not the case. Some of the people here are so upset with him that apparently he dare not show his face in these parts.
A small shadow has been cast over this tour by the fact that I always had the feeling that only one side was being blamed for the conflict between the two peoples. Unlike the Muslims, we Croats are critical towards ourselves. The Muslims still consider themselves to be innocent. Those of us in the know are aware that there is quite a bit of blame on the other side. However, now is not the time to allocate blame. Now is the time to establish peace. Tomorrow, we are travelling to Washington.
Sabotage by the HDZ
13 March 1994 (Washington)
I have come full circle, back to this city. However, I still do not know whether I will be travelling home right away or not. This evening, I spoke with Silajdžić, and he told me that they have completed the text of the Constitution they had been working on in Vienna. If they decide to come here for the signing in a few days, then I will wait instead of going back. (I will know tomorrow.) For now, it is very important that the agreement we signed here has been recast into a constitution.
It is obvious that the Americans applied a lot of pressure and did not allow any deviation from what had been agreed upon. After the final signing that is to take place here (probably by the end of the week), the Herzegovina fraction around Tuđman will definitely be politically defeated. Now, we just have to fight those who will continue enforcing their policies on the ground. Therefore, there is no time to rest and we will have to continue being active. The Sarajevo HDZ branch is continuing to sabotage the Croat People’s Council. Jozelić has been sending me alarming updates about this from Zagreb. HDZ will have a hard time accepting the inferior position they will be in after this agreement is signed. The problem is that they want to take the people down with them – they want to confuse the people further and take them back to square one. This fraction is also strong here, both in the USA and in Canada. It is characterised by individuals such as Fra Ljubo Krasić. He has lived here for a long time and has many followers. This evening I spoke with a friar who is the head of a Franciscan mission of the third order in Washington. He told me a lot about our diaspora here. In short, the Herzegovina Franciscans are in control of everything: they are very powerful and influential. However, their politics is misguided. According to him, they control Tuđman via Šušak and Vukojević, who are their people. They even tried to prevent Archbishop Puljić from holding Mass here last Sunday. Even he is not acceptable to them. Obviously, these men are dangerous and still prepared to achieve their ends by any means necessary. We will need a lot of time and patience to change all this.
I did not have time to go to Zagreb. Silajdžić will arrive here tomorrow and Izetbegović will arrive the day after tomorrow.
The final signing of the agreement will take place on Friday, 18 March. Through Petar Jozelić, I am constantly in contact with the HNV members in Zagreb. The group that came from Sarajevo will finish their work by the end of the week and then travel back to Sarajevo. They did not express a firm position on the Sarajevo HDZ branch, although I had insisted on this. They are intimidated and scared. They allowed the HDZ president Obrdalj to get close to them and to participate in some joint activities, even though he had tried to publicly delegitimise them and had politically denounced the HNV. This should not be tolerated. They were also not firm in their stance on the Croatian media using shamefaced lies to present this total defeat of official state politics as if it were a victory. An upstart journalist by the name of Jozo Ćurić is leading the way. They are trying to reintroduce into the public eye the same people who publicly destroyed BiH, who betrayed the Croats in BiH and extended the war with their actions and public statements. These people should no longer be spared. We should no longer keep quiet and instead we should confront them openly. They can no longer be considered political partners to Croats. HDZ has betrayed our trust and must not be allowed to hold positions of power in BiH. Only Tuđman should be spared. He should not be openly attacked yet. He should be separated from the protagonists of his politics in order to simplify matters. It is not a good idea to make enemies of all of them at the same time.
They say that it is springtime in Sarajevo. A lot of people are out on the streets. There is no shooting. The tram – number 6 – is running from Novo Sarajevo to Skenderija. I have also been told that the agreement automatically ended the war between the Army of BiH and the HVO. When they heard that the Agreement had been signed, soldiers from both sides deployed along the front in the area of Gornji Vakuf put down their weapons, left their trenches and walked towards each other.
“As I live, saith the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live.”
The Signing of the Agreement and Concealed Trickery
18 March 1994
Finally, this day has come to an end and everything that happened during it has become the past – some of it even history. It started off on a very turbulent note and with unexpected conflict. Early this morning, before 8 a.m., I went to the tenth floor of the hotel where Izetbegović was staying. I was troubled by thoughts about the protocol for the signing of the new Constitution of BiH – who would be signing it and from what position of authority. I dreaded some kind of trick that would be hidden under the cover of formalities. I was right: Ambassador Alkalaj showed me a protocol that said that K. Zubak would be signing the Constitution as “the representative of Bosnian Croats.” Muhamed and Nedžib Šaćirbegović were present as well and all of us were reading the text and trying to understand what was written. President Izetbegović was sitting in the other room of the suite in his pyjamas, writing something. He did not interfere in our conversation; I think he was busy with his writing and was not even listening to us. I was persistent in my demands that the protocol be changed. I said that I could not tolerate having Zubak sign anything on behalf of the Bosnian Croats in my presence. He has never represented them; he was not their advocate, but rather he advocated for policies that were against them. He can only sign the document in the name of the so-called Herceg- Bosna, which, by the way, will be annulled by that very signature. When Silajdţić entered the room, I told him my position on the matter and my tone was quite harsh and angry. His reaction simply contributed to the tension. He said that things have to be that way, that they cannot be changed now and (this was particularly hurtful) that I should have been in Vienna the whole time if I wanted things to be any different. I replied that I cannot be an overseer of everything everywhere, that I had placed my trust in him, that he should have put an end to this and that Zubak is not the issue here – he is. The affiliation of Muslims was under question here; their choice of future partners was at stake. I saw the whole ordeal as a political diversion. If Zubak signs the new Constitution in the name of the Bosnian Croats, he terminates “Herceg-Bosna” but retains the position of a representative of Croats. Thus, the Assembly of Croats and the HNV will be put aside and all of our efforts will be discarded and trampled upon. I said that I could not accept this at any cost, and that I did not want to participate in the ceremony of the signing of the Agreement at the White House. I left the room in protest, telling them that I was going to pack and that I was taking the first flight back home. I went down to the hall and declared my decision to a group of our journalists and our staff at the Embassy and at the UN. They were surprised and dumbstruck. Soon the whole delegation came down, and they started walking towards the hotel exit. Nedžib Šaćirbegović, I. Mišić and Bakir Izetbegović approached me with a plea to come with them. They tried to convince me that Izetbegović thinks that I am completely right and that I should come with them anyway. I refused and said that I will not change my mind. They left without me. Their stay at the White House was surprisingly short. Again, the whole posse entered the hotel: they were serious and in a hurry. They disappeared into the elevators. I was again approached by the Šaćirbegovićes, who told me that Clinton had addressed Zubak by his name only, and that he did not use any formal titles. As if that mattered. Soon after, I was called up to see Izetbegović. When I came in, he was alone with Silajdžić. Izetbegović was agitated, while Silajdžić was calm and pale. He tried to convince me that Zubak had to be the one to sign this Constitution because he represented a side in the conflict, and that from this moment on he does not exist as a representative of any institution. I told him that my protest was not about that, and that I have nothing against Zubak signing the Constitution. On the contrary, if he weren’t present, I would insist that he sign this document as a representative of one of the sides in the war. My protest was directed solely at his title and nothing else.
As long as I am alive, he cannot sign anything in the name of the Bosnian Croats. They convinced me that he signed the document in his name only and that Clinton did not even introduce him in his introductory speech. I insisted on seeing the signed document because each participant’s role is visible there. They told me that we would receive copies of the signed document at lunch, and they pressured me to give up on going back home and instead that I go to lunch with them.
Christopher was supposed to host this lunch. I asked for proof of their claim that Zubak did not sign the document in the name of the Bosnian Croats. Alkalaj said that he is sure of this and that I should not worry about it. Still, I sought out Steve Bubalo, Ivanković and Radielović, who had been invited to the official signing, to consult with them. They proposed that I should go to the lunch as a member of the Presidency of BiH. I agreed. We went to lunch with Christopher at the State Department. There was a cocktail party in the hall, and there were many people – all well- known faces from the world of diplomacy, along with several notable congressmen and members of the U.S. government. We were given copies of the signed Constitution. The names of the signatories were listed without titles. I was finally at peace and I could enjoy the atmosphere. I met many important people from the world of American and European politics. I was only displeased to see Owen and Stoltenberg (he greeted me courteously; he is likeable and I believe that he is a good man, but has been dealt the wrong role). I spoke briefly with Tuđman. He insisted on not talking about the changes to his politics, but rather about continuity. I replied that this is not the place for such conversations and that we can talk about that in Zagreb. He again repeated his standard clichés about the general Croat interest, the need for BiH Croats to play an active role in politics and not just be present, etc. I avoided the conversation because I did not want to spoil the atmosphere. Granić – clearly excited and happy – was following Tuđman around. He whispered into my ear that the President does not like talking about the turn in his politics and that I should take this into consideration. As soon as he said this, he continued to move through the empty space left in the crowd after Tuđman. The atmosphere at the lunch was formal and polite. It seemed more like a business lunch than a celebration.
In the afternoon, we were visited by representatives of the EU (Papoulias, Kinkel, Prost, Van den Broek and their associates). We were afraid that they would come with the idea of territorial partitioning with the Serbs and in accordance with the percentages that they had determined – 33:17:50. Before the meeting, we prepared our response to such a question. Fortunately, the conversation went in a different direction – we talked about the administrative government in Mostar, the situation in Sarajevo, humanitarian aid, etc. Nobody mentioned any percentages or territories. Our conclusion was that nobody wanted to take that hot potato into their hands at this time.
We have a meeting with CIA officials scheduled for tomorrow. We are flying back home in the afternoon.
The Battle for the Federation
21 March 1994
We did not meet with the CIA officials. We met with Radman at the State Department. After this meeting, it was clear why the EU representatives did not tackle the territory issue. Radman posed the question instead. He has been handed the hot potato. He held on to it without flinching. He made a long introductory speech and then openly demanded that the negotiations started by the UN in Geneva be continued – the issue at hand is the border with the Serbs. Izetbegović tried to avoid a discussion on this topic by saying that we had been forced by the circumstances to accept the negotiation on the territories. I talked about the fact that the signing of the new Constitution of the Federation is a new concept that cannot be made to fit with a continuation of the Geneva negotiations. Radman insisted; he invited us into an office to show us maps with various borders with the Serbs drawn in. The concept was a Union of two republics. The principle for establishing borders was the territory, with a 51:49 ratio. There were several variations of those borders. M. Šaćirbegović entered the dialogue. Silajdžić was terribly pale and didn’t utter a single word throughout. You could sense that he would make Radman disappear if he could. It was clear that he did not even want to discuss the issue, and he was unhappy that Izetbegović had accepted to do so. He did not even wait for the conversation to end; at one point, he just got up and left. We stayed for a short time and then went back to the hotel. I was the only one who visited Zagreb; the others went back to Sarajevo. I told Izetbegović that I wanted to bring together the representatives of the Parliament of BiH and prepare them for the next session, when we are supposed to adopt the Constitution and make the necessary decisions. He agreed with my plan. I asked him to accentuate the role of the HNV and the Assembly of Croats in the process that led to this agreement at the press conference upon his arrival to Sarajevo. He said he would do so because he believed this to be the truth and not because it was good propaganda. However, I wanted him to state this publicly and not only to me.
This evening in Zagreb, there was a meeting of some of the representatives of the Parliament of BiH (Croats), those that Jozelić and the rest of the HNV members managed to reach at such short notice. Some of them are still afraid; they fear the consequences of public declarations. They are still deeply frightened by the propagandistic “unity” of the Croat people. Fortunately, the majority has publicly stated that they did not want a union with war criminals, bandits and robbers. We agreed to issue a statement about the meeting and that representatives are publicly invited to the Parliament session in Sarajevo. Tomorrow, a delegation of representatives will make an official visit to the Parliament of the Republic of Croatia. I scheduled a press conference for tomorrow at 3 p.m.
Spring in Sarajevo
March 1994 (Sarajevo)
This is a new city with new people. The streets are crowded with pedestrians, some of them just out for a walk, either on their own or with dogs. There are many people at the tram stop, from which a torrent of people flows into the surrounding streets. They have a stronger, more assertive gait and their expressions are happier. The noticeable depression and hopelessness that used to overshadow every face has disappeared. Spring has arrived to the city, adding its cheerfulness and warmth to everything. The Forsythia is in bloom. Cherry trees have blossomed early in the gardens that survived the war. Last year, the spring went by and I did not even notice the blossoms. However, I noticed all this in passing and in a hurry.
My mind was completely preoccupied with other things: SDA [Party of Democratic Action] is holding its convention, which I deem very important, preparations are being made for the assembly of the Parliament of BiH on the 28th of this month, there are problems in HSS [Croatian Peasant Party], the Serbs in Sarajevo are having their official meeting tomorrow… I don’t know what is happening within Muslim political circles.
For two days now, their leading party has been holding meetings behind closed doors, and the only thing that has been leaked to the public is Izetbegović’s decision to return as the head of the SDA. At this point, it is difficult to assess what this means.
I did not manage to go to Zagreb today, where I was supposed to meet with the representatives of the Parliament of BiH. UNPROFOR came for me yesterday at an unplanned hour, and today when I was supposed to go, I was not on the list. I am not sure if this was a consequence of their lack of organisation or of too much organisation. I received information that fifty people will arrive from Split to Sarajevo, which means more people than there are representatives. In addition, the people arriving from Zagreb will be all those who did not go today to bow to Bender in Mostar, where he invited them to “establish the mandate.” It is obvious that they are all well prepared for this assembly. They issued a statement that they would like to elect the president and vice-president of the Federation right away. The representatives who supported our position will remain a minority in the Parliament.
An absurd situation will arise: those who almost destroyed this country and led the Croats and Muslims into the bloodiest war ever known will make peace while dividing up the power. This would not be such a tragedy if they would put this power to use to strengthen peace and politically advocate for the reintegration of the entire occupied territory into the state of BiH, to re-establish trust and place the country on a path to prosperity. But they are the ones who instigated inter-ethnic murder, hatred, ethnic cleansing. What will their government be like? I fear the answer to this question. Given that I did not go to Zagreb, I used the opportunity to visit Žepče with General Roso, who is visiting Sarajevo and the Headquarters of the High Command of the Army of BiH and General Hajrulahović. We flew there by helicopter and returned this evening. Our visit was very useful. It will further speed up the normalisation of relations between the Army of BiH and the HVO. They told us that they are isolating and removing from service all extremists who are jeopardising the implementation of the agreement. Some Army officers (from Zenica and Maglaj) came with us and stayed at the HVO Headquarters in order to harmonise and coordinate their decisions. It seems that the situation is becoming normal quicker and better than I expected. Even I was greeted very cordially and respectfully. (If I had gone there a month ago, I believe they would have killed me.) Lozančić’s assistant told me that he was in Kiseljak yesterday and that it will be difficult to change the current state of affairs. He was even arrested (and he had been their great friend and a close associate until recently). A group of thugs started the evildoing in Kiseljak to begin with. I asked him to tell General Roso everything. The two of them later stepped aside and talked for twenty minutes. On his way out he whispered to me that he told General Roso everything he knew.
Today in Sarajevo, Generals Roso and Delić implemented the last clause of their agreement on the establishment of a joint command of the Army of BiH and the HVO for the transitional period. Soon, there will be an Office of the HVO here working in cooperation with the Army of BiH Headquarters. I expect that the Army and the HVO will soon conduct joint military actions. Perhaps in the very area of Žepče and Maglaj.
Tomorrow an Assembly of Serbs from unoccupied territories will take place, modelled after our Assembly. It is almost too late for such an event, but it can still prove useful. Ivan Đurić and Radman will be attending this Assembly. Giving it publicity is a good thing. Vuk Drašković has sent a pompous letter to the Sarajevo Serbs, in which he calls them heroes and an honour to the Serb people (!). No one from Croatia ever communicated with us Croats in such a way. Some people that I am surrounded with in HSS are trying to involve me in their intrigues and personal relations based on envy, hypocrisy, careerism and malice. While I was busy dealing with the most important issues of our survival and the survival of this country – mostly with success – they watched from the sidelines. Their lack of ambition has developed into a dissatisfaction, which they are now trying impose on me. Instead of focusing on organising and strengthening the party, they have started to fight amongst themselves for prestige. What prestige and why? There are many intelligent people, but not that many are useful. I am too tired to give in to all this and to take part in their relations. Besides, the most important part of the political struggle still lies ahead, and it will take place in the Parliament of BiH. They are not prepared to focus on this, nor are they ready to enter that fray.
I am afraid that I will end up fighting alone, or with a very small number of supporters, the bold and determined ones. God help us all.
Moral Consistency and Machiavellianism
The Zagreb group has arrived in Sarajevo. It consists of members of the HNV and some representatives from the Parliament, who should be on the same political line as the HNV. However, during our meeting this evening, where we were supposed to agree on the strategy and the tactics of our participation in the BiH Parliament and the Croat representatives’ caucus, all our differences came to light. First, Mariofil Ljubić did not even attend the meeting, which was very irresponsible whatever the reason behind it. Second, Vlado Pandžić, as the president of the Croat caucus, is not up to the task he has taken on. He would like to make his way through all this unscathed. Obviously he has not clarified things in his own mind; he is creating drama all by himself and is trying to pass his confusion onto others. The problem lies in the fact that he is discouraging others and creating confusion in the ranks. People are becoming hesitant and apprehensive. In addition, Pandžić is unsuited when it comes to dealing with complicated situations; he is a conformist and a utilitarian.
We need resolute people and utopians because they are the only ones who posses much needed rationality in this irrational situation. However, amongst those present, there are I. Lovrenović, Fra Luka and Fra Ivan, Jozelić, B. Matić, Doko, I. Markešić and others who can be relied upon and who will not give up. I also spoke with Archbishop Puljić this evening; he has returned from his trip to the United States and Canada. I wanted to remind him and caution him about the position that the Church has held so far and that he openly supported. I told him that any form of Machiavellianism would not do us any good right now, that instead we must exhibit moral consistency and fight for the truth. We are not in the midst of any real political situations; we have struck rock bottom in terms of a value system and are witnessing the end of the world. We have to act as if we were facing the final judgement. I said all this with the intention to warn him against the possibility of a union with the same people that we have spent over two years politically opposing. That would be like making a pact with the devil.
I am afraid of tendencies within the Church towards compromise. He replied that he wanted “unity” among the Croat people and I warned him of the dangers of such a thesis. I claimed that unity is only possible if it is founded on our political programme, based on which the peace agreement was reached. We parted without any clear conclusions and obliged each other to meet again during the Parliament session. I fear the “unity” that he refers to.
This evening, we agreed that one group (Lovrenović, Fra Luka, Jozelić, Matić and I) should direct their activities towards the Parliament and the Muslims, while the other, the one made up of Parliament members, towards the Croat caucus. We are supposed to meet again tomorrow.
Saving HDZ with Croat “Unity”
We started our preparations for our presentation at the Parliament of BiH early this morning. First, I had a meeting of the Main Board of HSS in order to consult with that body and motion for the party to be more active and better organised. I suggested that I should suspend my function as president and that Branko Zovko can take over as acting president as a compromise solution to the ambitions of others, while Slišković can take over the Executive Board. An arduous debate ensued. In short, the others expressed fear over the fact that my departure might completely jeopardise the party and not consolidate it. That is why we postponed this issue for later, while agreeing on the Slišković suggestion. Later, I had a meeting with HNV members. We invited M. Lazović as the Speaker of the Parliament. He told us about the results of the talks between the presidents of the caucuses – only one member of the HNV may attend sessions at the Parliament as a guest. We understood that we could not resolve this issue with him (there are ten of us and we all want to speak at the Parliament), so I went to see President Izetbegović. At Izetbegović‟s office, I saw Ganić, who supported me, and we solved this issue with more ease than I expected. It was suggested to Lazović that he should only point out that many guests are present at the Parliament, including members of our HNV, without mentioning any exact numbers (which is how it happened later). During my meeting with Izetbegović, I used the opportunity to talk with him about the Parliament and the personnel. I told him that we should not rush with parliamentary decisions; that the Parliament should not immediately turn into a Constitutional Assembly, but that we should discuss the documents that are being ratified. In particular, I warned him that the HNV would not blindly support appointing officials from “Herceg-Bosna” for the future Federation, and that we would request that criteria be adopted for the appointment of persons to these positions. He agreed and promised full support of the SDA representatives. The parliamentary delegation of the Republic of Croatia headed by Mesić arrived around noon as guests of the Parliament of BiH. We had a very pleasant and friendly conversation with them. They came to the beginning of the Parliamentary Assembly, and were very cordially welcomed by those present. The Parliament could not proceed because the HDZ representatives from Herzegovina did not manage to arrive until the evening. The Parliament is in recess until tomorrow. We all met this evening: all the Croat representatives in the Parliament of BiH, the HNV, the delegation of “Herceg-Bosna”, the Bishops and the Provincial Minister. A long, draining, and at times very arduous discussion ensued.
The need for unity was mentioned repeatedly and it all came down to pointing out our differences. Archbishop Puljić and the representatives of “Herceg-Bosna” were particularly insistent on “unity,” but they did everything they could to make sure it was not achieved. It became clear that my apprehension of the Archbishop‟s “unity” was justified. It is clear to me now that he has abandoned us permanently and with ease. This is not the same man I worked with in the past. The HDZ people came with their prepared suggestions that they want to impose on everyone, and which could fully block the work of the Parliament (from procedural to key issues). However, this is not just a case of non-democratic means and attempts at forcing others to be obedient. It is apparent that they lack any trace of conscience or remorse. Their brows are furrowed and dark. When they speak, they use words to create a screen between themselves and their interlocutors so they can hide behind it completely. The conversation yielded almost no results because there was too much bitterness for synthesis to occur. We all agreed that the Constitution should be accepted and that is the one conclusion we reached. All other questions remain open. Archbishop Puljić continued to insist on “unity.” In practice, this means that the HDZ should return to power, and that they should be allowed to implement the Washington Agreement, which we had initiated without them. I do not know how to interpret this sudden shift. Maybe it is like a first love that can never be forgotten and that is easy to blindly return to, with no criteria.
I am tired. The backstage dealings in the Parliament of BiH are exhausting. I have to constantly be in touch with the caucus, which is now completely disjointed and in which HDZ holds a large majority; I have to give instructions on behaviour and public statements to representatives who belong to our political line; I have to keep both the HNV and the Main Board of HSS together. This evening, we held a meeting of the HNV that went on late into the night. We agreed on how it would be organised in Sarajevo, Zagreb, and abroad. We also agreed on the people we could nominate for offices of the Federation. Tomorrow, we will discuss this with SDA; today we spoke with the SDA branch in Croatia. I opened the debate on preparing for the elections and which party the HNV would support.
Most people are in favour of HSS, but there are many who are suspicious. As people say: Once bitten, twice shy.
New Partnership of SDA and HDZ
It is done. The Parliament of the Republic of BiH – as the Constitutional Assembly – has passed the Constitution of the Federation of BiH. Obviously, the representatives were instructed to ratify the document without much debate. The act was ceremonial, but without euphoria or unnecessary words. Dignified, I would say. There were few speakers; their statements were short and appropriate for the occasion. Fra Petar spoke on behalf of the Franciscan Province of Bosna Srebrena, followed by Ivan Lovrenović on behalf of the HNV, Siljadžić on behalf of the Government of BiH, and finally the members of the Presidency of BiH. However, two major changes were made: one in the Constitutional Law, and the other in the Constitution itself. The first removed the parallelism of the two governments, so that the Republic and the Federation will have a unified government, while the other removed the 5% cut off point as a prerequisite for parties to enter the Parliament.
The first change is significant, as it ensures the efficiency of the executive government, while the second allows for a more democratic parliament. During these three days, the main struggles of this assembly occurred behind closed doors. We could not convince either the SDA branch, neither the domestic nor the “Croatian” one, not to take as partners people who had torn down BiH. Both SDA delegations were in full assembly, with their most responsible people present. They gave us a lot of credit for all that we had done; they were practically erecting a monument on the spot. However, they were clear in their choice of political partner – they chose the HDZ. We did not ask them to decide for or against HDZ, because not all HDZ members are the same. We asked them to determine the criteria for the choice of officials of the Federation so as to ensure a reliable and efficient implementation of the Washington Agreement, a return of trust and a normalisation of the situation, as well as the continuation of the peace process (Serbs were not included in the Agreement, and they need to be integrated into the Federation). Criteria would ensure that the Agreement is implemented by people who are politically decidedly for a unified county, who did not actively participate in the aggression, either through politics or the military, who have a positive attitude towards the Agreement and are prepared to implement it, and who properly interpret the Federation. Our words fell on deaf ears. They had already made up their minds. They justified their decision by the fact that HDZ has power and weapons, that they are partnering with them out of need, that we should not fear this partnership, etc. Izetbegović particularly insisted on the fact that their partner be the one that has the support of the Croat people. I was so confounded that I lost my will to speak. At one point, I wondered whether I could really sit down together with Prlić and Co. and implement what we have built. I was given a coldblooded answer: “Don‟t worry, that is our problem. We know how to deal with them.” (I remembered the protocol of the signing of the Washington Agreement where nothing was accidental – the partners had already been determined.) Petar Jozelić was more open than the rest of us. With tears in his eyes, his voice shaky from excitement, but energetic and clear, he said everything that had to be said. He was no longer surprised by the partnership of SDA and HDZ, their common language and interest; he blamed them and practically condemned them. “You have joined hands in a ring of evil, and you plan to build a joint state in that ring”, he kept repeating. “If the goal is the creation of national cantons, then that’s a tragedy, and it has nothing to do with our project,” he continued. It is hard to remember everything that Petar said, but there was little to say after him. Our collocutors showed no remorse; they were calm, self-assured and it seems like the words that were said did not matter much to them.
We managed to win an important battle in the Croat caucus: Bender was removed from the position of president, and Pandžić was elected. Not even the former representatives of his “Herceg-Bosna” had voted for Bender. This reveals their lack of unity and their vulnerability. Also, they did not manage to impose their position that the flag of “Herceg-Bosna” should be placed on the stage. We put up the flag of the Croat people next to the flag of the SDA and the national flag of BiH. Right before the session of the Constitutional Assembly, a small incident took place that practically confirmed the firm union of SDA and HDZ, or rather “Herceg-Bosna”. Miro Lazović, the Speaker of the RBiH Parliament, looked over the hall while opening the session and noticed Jadranko Prlić, Premier of “Herceg-Bosna” and President of the HVO, sitting in the front row. Slightly confused yet calm, as is his nature, he skipped the procedure, paused and asked, “Mr. Prilć, what are you doing here? You are not a member of this Parliament and you have not been invited to this session. Please, leave this hall.” Prlić was obviously not expecting this, so he sat there calmly for a moment, but as the entire hall turned towards him, he started getting up slowly and uncertainly. General Roso was sitting right next to him. He grabbed Prlić by the arm and lowered him back into his seat. Silence fell over the hall; Lazović, the Speaker, was silent, waiting. The uneasy atmosphere was broken by someone’s request for a break, despite the fact that the session had not even started yet. After the break, the hall filled up again. Prlić came in and sat down. In the end, the working Presidency of the Assembly came in. Lazović was not among them. The position of chairman was taken over by Mariofil Ljubić. Nobody knows what happened during the break. I remembered the moment when Mariofil took over the chairmanship from Krajišnik, on the night that SDS left the building and started the destruction of the institutions of BiH. There is a bit of reverse parallelism in all this. Many people came up to congratulate me after the official proclamation of the Constitution. They thanked me for what I had done, and made their appreciation clear. None of the official representatives had done so. While congratulating me, Prof. Konjicija said how he had expected that one of them would publicly give me credit from the rostrum, because, as he said, “You did all this, and no one has said a word.” I tried to avoid answering, not knowing what to say. I could not rejoice, as I was sad. I don’t know why. Perhaps because I started thinking about what the future has in store, the difficult struggle that will be waged against these wicked people, but also the upcoming elections.
My feelings were mixed and I was not able to differentiate between them. I missed my home, my family, my orchard, and my bees. There, I know how to be happy and how to be sad. And it is all so far away and beyond my grasp.
Duplicitous Politics from Zagreb Continues
I am back in Sarajevo. The weather has become cold and rainy. It is more like autumn than spring. I ended my short Easter visit to Zagreb on Thursday, three days ago. I went for Good Friday together with the members of the HNV who were returning to Zagreb after the parliamentary session. Jozelić insisted that I go with them, because on Good Friday he holds a traditional banquet and a party for his friends. It was very pleasant and relaxing. After the intense and tiring work of the preceding days, this was truly soothing. I avoided talking about politics, although many were curious. I enjoyed the company of good people, informal conversations and the jokes we made. However, it was also a useful visit. First, I had a very important conversation with Granić, and while following the news media in Croatia, I came to an important conclusion: they will still try to keep up the parallelism of the government by maintaining “Herceg- Bosna”. Second, I have dealt with some organisational issues that impeded further work by the HNV. I called Granić on Saturday to say I wanted to meet with him. On that day, in the afternoon, the Office of the President of the Republic of Croatia informed me that Granić would be expecting me on Monday at 11 a.m. I assume that our meeting was debated in front of Tuđman and that the meeting will be important, since it was scheduled for the second day of Easter. I prepared for the meeting. I decided on several important issues to be discussed: the behaviour of HDZ representatives at the BiH Parliament session and the ideas that they came with, appointments in the future Federation of BiH, the position of the United States in relation to the agreement and its implementation, the relationship of official Croatian politics and Croatian media towards me, and possible resistance towards the implementation of the new Constitution of the Federation.
I had been right: it was a holiday at the Croatian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the secretary and the assisting staff were not present. Granić was in his office. Sančević and Sanader were with him. I presented all of the key points that I was ready to talk about. I particularly underlined the intentions of some of the HDZ representatives present at the parliamentary session to further boycott and de-legitimise organs and bodies of the BiH government. I told Granić about the fact that they wanted to be present only at the Constitutional Assembly, that they tried but failed to stage a putsch in the Croat caucus with Bender, that they were planning to elect Zubak as the President of the Federation and then go home with their work done so they can forget about Sarajevo, etc. As far as the appointments to the bodies of the Federation go, I asked them to tell me which Muslims they were counting on, so that we could take an appropriate position as well. He mentioned Silajdžić. I warned him that in that case they have to change their combination with Zubak, because it eliminated Silajdžić.
They have no information on what is going on in the leadership of the Muslim political circles – if they go with their idea of Zubak as president of the Federation, they must know that Izetbegović will not accept the position of vice-president, and will insist on being the president himself. In that case, a Croat will have to be the Premier of the Federation, which eliminates Silajdžić. Since Silajdžić will not accept any other function, they might get someone else for a partner. At the end of the conversation about this combination game, I concluded, and not for the first time, that their policies are superficial and not based on necessary political analysis. We also discussed the relation of official Croatian politics towards me, and the accompanying media attacks against me, which are now fiercer than ever before. Granić tried to explain that this is neither his opinion nor the President‟s; that they cannot influence the press and that only people at HTV can stop it. I replied that I am not asking for anything from them except that they speak the truth about my activities. I also said that I expect both Granić and Tuđman to publicly state this truth, and that this would be the right thing to do. Granić was, however, interested to know whether I would be a candidate for one of the functions in the Federation. I replied that I have yet to decide and that I want them to understand that I did not do what I did in order to get power, but to change the situation that we were in. I also said that we could even support Zubak under certain circumstances, but I did not explain further and I did not say for which position. I revealed to them that the HNV would have its own candidates.
This conversation was very important, especially the things said by Sančević and Sanader. In fact, they completely revealed what was only hinted at in the press: they will try to slow down the implementation of the Constitution of the Federation as much as they can, while supporting the failure that is “Herceg-Bosna.” This work will be done by Sančević through his embassy, which will be opened in Sarajevo, and which will be “reinforced” by people who participated in the destruction of BiH and who advocated the policy of war against Muslims. They could not hide these intentions. Despite their promise that they would warn HTV about their relationship towards me, that night I was again insulted on a show hosted by J. Ćurić. These insults were not a mistake made by an uninformed reporter, since he has been doing similar things since the beginning of our peace plan initiative. I called Granić the next day and told him about this. I warned him that I will not be quiet anymore, that I know how to defend myself from their lies, and that I will do so the next day at the HNV press conference at Hotel Panorama. So it was. We held a conference, where I spoke sharply and aggressively.
On Tuesday, I was with Ejup Ganić in Bihać. We were supposed to meet with Abdić, but he did not come to the meeting. Abdić only wants to speak with Silajdžić. The trip was very risky. We flew over territories controlled by Martić’s people, who took down everything their sights. As we were boarding the helicopter, Ganić insisted that we be given two aircraft. An officer of the foreign forces responsible for our transport from the airport in Zagreb, was hesitant and surprised. Ganić insisted, explaining that we have a greater chance of survival if we are in two different helicopters. “At least one of us should stay alive,” he repeated. At times I have been bothered by his persistence, but this time it was invaluable. We were given two helicopters. As far as I could gather, we flew over Karlovac, and then over some forests. The pilots were excellent – they almost touched the tips of the trees with their helicopters, following the terrain configuration. When they swooped down through valleys, my stomach reached was up in my throat. However, I handled this uneasiness better than the fear that we could be shot at. Suddenly, gentle meadows appeared beneath us. I was impressed. Almost all of them were tilled, which was in complete contrast with the untrimmed and derelict landscape that we had just left behind. I knew that it had nothing to do with the diligence or lack thereof of the populace, since all people whose existence is in jeopardy try to survive on every inch of the land. It had to do with two political concepts that could be spotted from this height or, as people say, which were “in plain sight.” Some act towards this land and their fields as they do towards their homeland; they are permanently and inseparably connected to it; they cherish it and protect it. Others are temporarily there; they do not think of it as their own and simply wait for the day when they will leave. I assumed that we were in the Bihać Krajina region and the fear disappeared.
In Bihać, I met with the local Croats and the HDZ leadership. We held our meeting at Fra Ivo Orlovac‟s Parish Offices. As Croats, they do not have any particular problems over there. They share the destiny of all the other people living there in isolation. Food reaches them rarely, newspapers never and the phone lines are down. They asked me to inform the government in Croatia about this and to ask them to send a humanitarian aid convoy that would not travel through Kladuša, because everything that goes through Kladuša becomes a means of extortion for Fikret Abdić. Also, in their own words, Abdić is worse then the Chetniks; he torches villages and holds the entire area hostage.
They also had many complaints about Vlado Šantić, the HVO commander, who has been trying to control everything that is Croat since the very establishment of those Croat units. The methods are the same as elsewhere; they are similar to what S. Zelić did in Sarajevo. Šantić had completely extinguished the work of HDZ as the only Croat party in that area. After returning from Bihać, I received information that HTV again attacked and insulted me on one of their shows. I called Granić and notified him about it, as we were supposed to talk anyway. Granić again tried to convince me that he and the President had nothing to with this, that he was to have dinner with the President and would discuss this with him in detail. He asked me to call him tomorrow, on Wednesday, at 8 a.m. The next morning, I did not have the strength to call Granić; I did not feel like meeting Tuđman, and I was afraid that he would ask me to do so. I went to the press conference, where I defended myself, the HNV and the politics we have pursued in the past and will continue to pursue in the future. In Zagreb, we discussed plans for further activities of the HNV. Petar Jozelić will convert his office into an HNV office, which it has already become for all intents and purposes. We hold meetings there, organise press conferences, and meetings with the Croatian opposition. Damjan Vlašić and Ivan Lovrenović will work at the office. We developed a special tactic for our appearance at the next meeting of the Constitutional Assembly. We plan to speak to each Croat representative individually. One group of HNV representatives will visit the embassies of the United States, Germany, Austria, Turkey and the Vatican to inform them of our position and the indications that the politics of the failed “Herceg-Bosna” will be kept alive under the label of the Federation. Also, we discussed the need to launch a journal of the HNV, which would be called The Croat-Bosniak Weekly. (Jozelić would cover most of the publishing costs.) The Croat People’s Council decided that I should be nominated for the president of the Federation, because it was estimated that SDA might withdraw their candidate, Izetbegović, after they hear about this suggestion. Izetbegović most definitely will not withdraw for Zubak. Ambassadors of the aforementioned embassies as well as Croat representatives will be informed of all this.
Here, in Sarajevo, I began to consolidate and develop the HSS in preparation for the elections. On Saturday, I held a speech in Novi Grad during the Founding Assembly of the municipal branch of HSS. The speech was well attended and those present showed a great amount of interest for what I talked about.
Bombing of Serb Positions
Today, NATO airplanes bombed Serb positions around Goražde again. During our meeting, the U.S. Ambassador Jakovich informed me that he had told his government that before they did anything, they must be resolute, and that they will have to conduct multiple missions if they decide on military action. He estimated that one attack would not be enough to stop Karadţić, and that if military action is initiated, it would have to be seen through to the end. Further development of the situation will depend on their resoluteness. This evening, it was announced that R. Mladić, the commander of Karadţić‟s army, was relieved of duty.
I spoke with Izetbegović this morning. He wanted to hear my opinion on the candidates for positions in the government of the Federation. He said that he would withdraw his candidacy for president if I became a candidate. I insisted that Silajdžić must be present in all possible combinations. On Wednesday, HSS will announce at a press conference that I am the party candidate for president of the Federation. Our prognosis that Sančević would open an office where he would bring together all the destroyers of BiH and from where he would try to rule the Federation with them is coming true. M. Lasić has already arrived in Sarajevo as Minister-Counsellor to the Embassy of the Republic of Croatia in BiH. It will be interesting to see who the others will be.
The Death of Branko Mikulić
It is difficult to shake off feelings and impressions, rise above emotions and the psychological condition that each of us carries. I am in a state completely determined by emotions but am asked to be rational. My mental health depends on how well I can deal with this paradox. War has infected the people. I saw it again today while participating in a talk show at Radio Vrhbosna. You could sense bitterness and malice in questions from listeners, a deep irreconcilability that leads to hell and that aims to take as many with it as possible. They cannot be reconciled with themselves first and foremost, not to mention with others; there is a sense of division in them, no desire for truth and a lack of hope. Unfortunately, Radio Vrhbosna did not manage to affect the hearts and minds of its listeners in the one year of their existence. This is not necessarily proof of their inefficiency or powerlessness, but rather proof of the depth of human suffering. HDZ is rubbing the ideological salt into that deep wound, and still uses hatred as the basic leverage in their politics. Also, the greatest amount of hatred is shown towards those who do not share their views. In addition to that, Archbishop Puljić‟s public advocacy for the “unity” of the Croat people is troubling. How are we supposed to become united with those who do not even acknowledge our existence, those who would rather cooperate with the Chetniks than with us? The Archbishop should be specific and demand unity on the issues of our peace plan and the adopted Constitution, and from those who drew us into war with Muslims because of their own misguided political agenda. Just as the Church was not discerning when it brought HDZ to power, I am afraid that now it will not have the moral strength to insist on the truth. HDZ is their unrequited love. Their rejection of the Church went so far as to label it treacherous, giving it lessons on morals and history, sermons and instructions on the Gospel.
I am afraid that the Church never got over its first love and that at one point it only rebelled against the politics that rejected it. When the love returned, the Church embraced it with increased fervour. This is something we have to accept, no matter how difficult doing so might seem. We cannot allow ourselves to turn the Church against us with our actions; we should not even object to their weakness. We have to hold a meeting with Archbishop Puljić and determine exactly what he means by the “unity” he keeps insisting on.
This afternoon, Branko Mikulić died. The war has made relative and devalued both life and death. In our situation, the destiny of Sarajevo became the measure of all other destinies. The value of a human life is measured by participation in the destiny of this city. Comrade Branko‟s death will also be viewed in light of this. This has to be said without cynicism, because the late Branko lived his life with dignity, and he remained faithful to Sarajevo and Bosnia until his very last breath. I knew he was ill and that he had come home from Lausanne two or three days ago just so he could die here. Still, I did not expect him to die so quickly. I did not manage to visit him. Planinka called Don Luka while Mikulić was on his deathbed. He went to see him. I was surprised by his wish to have me speak at his funeral. We met in person fairly late in his life, and we did not spend much time together. Many of his fellow partisans and friends from the communist era are still in Sarajevo. Still, he asked that I be the one to say the final farewell. Planinka asked me to do it, even though I had told her how difficult it would be for me. It is a great honour, but what can I say about this man that I knew for such a brief time? I have to speak in front of him as if I were looking him in the eye. I have to speak in front of others who will be looking me in the eye. I have to speak succinctly and clearly. I have to speak as befits his dignity. I have to speak as it befits my dignity. It has never been so difficult to choose the right words.
Tomorrow at a press conference, I am supposed to announce my candidacy for the office of President of the Federation. Today, we discussed this topic at the HNV session in Sarajevo. The pros and cons are all legitimate. However, I still have to make a decision regarding all this. I am still undecided. I cannot fully estimate the benefits of such a decision.
“Even to the death fight for truth, and the Lord your God will battle for you.”
A Get-Together in Jež
We held the HSS press conference. We did not announce my candidacy after all. I thought it was inappropriate for a conference I was attending and where we spoke about the anniversary of the HSS. Will anyone ever objectively review our work? I spoke with Silajdžić this afternoon. He asked for my approval for S. Halilović to leave Sarajevo and seek refuge in Turkey. He thought this important because of his role in the war. Of course, we also spoke about the candidates. I asked him why Izetbegović would not give him the advantage, since Croats would support him for president of the Federation. He said it was purely a struggle for power and prestige. Tomorrow, a delegation from Herzegovina will arrive, headed by Zubak. We will discuss the nominations for government positions in the Federation, and the preparations for the Parliamentary Assembly.
I spent a pleasant evening at Jež. I invited V. Jakovich to dinner. We were joined by Don Luka, Fra Ljubo and Z. Grubešić. Jakovich carefully listened to the impressions and observations of the two priests, who recently took a trip through central Bosnia and spent some time in the villages of Neretvica.
The Survival of “Herceg-Bosna”
Today, a negotiating team from Herzegovina (Prlić, Bender, Akmadţić, Buntić) arrived in Sarajevo, headed by Zubak. M. Ljubić came with them. The U.S. Ambassador V. Jakovich and the Croatian Ambassador Z. Sančević were present at the meeting. Silajdžić led the negotiations. Izetbegović did not participate. At the very beginning, the representatives of “Herceg-Bosna” wanted to formally establish boundaries, so they asked who were the legitimate representatives of the two peoples who are supposed to participate in the talks for the implementation of the Constitution of the Federation. They answered their own question as well: they recognise only those who were given legitimacy at the 1990 elections. Everything that happened in the meantime is regarded as non-existent. They still want the political monopoly on Croat interests in BiH; they are still solely interested in power and nothing else. Silajdžić tried to convince them very diplomatically that some people are indispensable for these negotiations, especially because their work had led to the resolution of the crisis (he was referring to me and my presence at the meeting). I interrupted the awkwardness, saying how I have nothing against inter-party talks being held, but that they can expect further debates within every people’s caucus, since all parties in the Parliament will insist on that. I warned that the caucuses were no longer as homogenous as before, a fact that cannot be ignored. I left the hall after my interjection, leaving them to further discuss things. Branko Mikulić was buried today. I fulfilled the honourable, yet difficult duty and spoke at his funeral. I am not good at this. Somehow, I managed to say a few words. Many people were present at the funeral. The number exceeded all expectations. The funeral was modest, marked by the war. Don Luka said a prayer, more for himself than for anyone else, respecting the communist dignity of the man who had passed away. Fra Mirko sang a song with his children‟s choir called “Ecce quomodo moritur iustus” (Behold how the righteous man dies). That was all.
Media Attacks and Slander
25 April 1994
The political situation remains unchanged since the last visit of the delegation from Herzegovina. They were here again on Saturday, the day before yesterday, and no agreement was reached. There is still general debate about the functions, which shows that the fight for power is the main issue of the talks. In the meantime, the implementation of the new Constitution, the establishment of Federal institutions and the final implementation of the Washington Agreement are all on hold. The campaign against me in the Croatian media has been constant. HDZ is trying to completely discredit me and eliminate me from all further talks on the Federation through lies and slander. They invoke the legitimacy of the 1990 elections, which they lost the moment they formed “Herceg-Bosna” and abandoned the interests of our people in BiH. It is hard to take all these attacks. I am being accused of fighting for power, while in actual fact, they are the ones obsessively fighting for it and for a monopoly over our people. I only care that the Constitution we have achieved with so much difficulty be implemented, and that the fighting we managed to stop through tremendous effort is not resumed. I will have to reconsider my candidacy for one of the positions in the Federation once again. There are many reasons for this: first, the institutions of the Federation must have the power to implement the Constitution; second, maybe my candidacy is what is slowing down the agreement of HDZ and SDA about the positions in the Federation; third, an illusion has been made that I am tearing the Croat political body apart; fourth, there is the mistaken assumption that the HNV is using me to fight for power. Even if I held an important position in the Federation, maybe my presence would diminish the power of its institutions in the implementation of the Constitution; maybe HDZ and SDA would agree more easily if I were not a part of the equation, which would result in quicker implementation of the agreement; maybe outside of the Federal structures I would have more space for criticism of its officials and their activity in the implementation of the Constitution. I could insist on Croat unity on the basis of the agreement. I would be relieved of the burden of power and all accusations that we are fighting for power would disappear.
I have to convene a meeting of the Main Board of HSS and the HNV to re-examine all the aspects of this problem. We must not bring into question the honourable intentions we have exhibited in all our activities. Also, we should delegate to others the task of implementing the federal Constitution. These problems are making me anxious and unable to concentrate. Today I spoke with Izetbegović and Ganić and I expressed my dissatisfaction with the course of the negotiations. (I am always wary that they may not understand and that they will think I am simply fighting for my own position. I only care that the Constitution be implemented as soon as possible, that the Federation be strengthened and that people intent on destroying it should not become part of its institutions.) I had the feeling that Izetbegović understood my intentions. I warned him that an unnecessary and harmful vacuum has been created and that it is maintaining the illegal state of affairs in Herzegovina (smuggling and criminal activity, the presence of military gangs, etc.), while in Sarajevo and the territory under the control of the Army, an illegal state of affairs is being introduced (people are being fired, office spaces are being distributed, new companies are being set up, privatisation is being prepared, etc.)
I am depressed by the entire situation. Once again I feel helpless, and again there is nothing I can do about it.
2 May 1994
Human efforts are extremely and intolerably futile. We are not able to achieve or maintain anything. Only the human propensity for burning out is great. Man has to be able to burn out in order to live. Success is a trick; it is only the memory of a path, it is an empty profile that you cannot admire or enjoy. How does one make peace with this? How can we sleep peacefully knowing this? How can we sleep and dream as if nothing has happened, as if there was nothing we strove for. To be neither happy nor sad. Can we remain indifferent when faced with the futility of life? Is the secret to accepting this knowledge or experience? Burning out is a relief. It is a state of liminal situations that make everything relative. It frees us of both sadness and hope. Still, it is not a state of being indifferent. Rather, one could say it is a state of having your teeth clenched. It is like walking up stairs that lead nowhere but there is no other path. Each step is as heavy as lead and thus it brings freedom. It is a state of making peace. Man only needs a little gentleness and nothing else. Simple, passing gentleness that does not even leave a trace.
Agreeing on Cantons in Vienna
8 May 1994
After an incredibly long flight on a UN airplane from Sarajevo to Frankfurt, we arrived in Vienna this evening. I was too tired to walk down the streets of this beautiful city. It is beautiful partially because of the emotion it produces in us, reminding us of Sarajevo, of Bosnia. It is Sunday and the day is drenched in sun and a translucent blueness. We had a short meeting with Mock (Silajdžić, Duraković, Bičakćić and I). He was interested in what the negotiations would be about, in the position of the Serbs in the Federation and beyond and in the international initiative embodied by the so-called Contact Group. The problem lies in the French who are trying to direct our talks with the Serbs back to discussions of territorial partitioning or, in other words, they want to create negotiations between (currently) two equal sides without treating either one as the aggressor. Silajdžić informed Mock about this and asked for a diplomatic neutralisation of the French initiative. Again, it seems that historical interests are constantly at work here. From this perspective, we can see the conflict of interests of the great powers concerning Bosnian territory. Again, it is a conflict of England, France and Russia, on the one side, and Austria and Germany, on the other side. The conflict is over influence and domination. However, the positions have been changed: Austria and Germany have limited influence because of both their constitutions and their international standing. Russia, England and France are taking turns to use Serbs and Serbia to achieve their own ends, just as they have done in the past. That is why wars began here and that is why we are currently forgetting the fact that Serbia, with the help of some Serbs in BiH, has led an aggression against BiH. This state of affairs and this balance of power between the great powers will determine our fate for a long time yet. The negotiations started at the American Embassy with their mediation and they began with harmonising the points made yesterday about determining the borders of the Federation. The text was harmonised without any major obstacles. After that, we moved on to talking about the internal cantonal borders.
Zubak‟s delegation offered criteria for this partitioning which in fact revitalised issues that had already been settled in Washington. “Ethnic territories” are again under discussion as possible criteria, while the criteria already determined by the Constitution are being ignored. The Constitution clearly states the principles along which cantons are to be formed: cantons are a form of territorial organisation, a way to decentralise the state and a form of regional self-government based on economic, natural, geographic and communication principles. Cantons are not ethnic states or ethnic territories. The basis for calculating the structure of the population is the 1991 census. In further discussion, this question could be solved if we accept the definitions offered by the Constitution. The criteria of the experts that can be used for defining cantonal borders must not clash with the Constitution. It forms the basis for accepting the principles for establishing cantons. The problem arose when the maps came out, especially the maps of Herzegovina. Zubak suggested that Herzegovina be divided into two parts; one consisting of Duvno, Livno and Posujšje, while everything else (except Konjic) would be the second part (including Jajce, Mostar and Stolac). How long will this man try to preserve “Herceg-Bosna”? Silajdžić suggested that we better forget that map if we want to make any progress. Also, the issue of central Bosnia came up: two cantons or just one? Silajdžić suggested a single canton in which power would be shared equally. Zubak insisted on two cantons: a Bosniak canton and a Croat one. In order to overcome these differences, I suggested that we establish a single canton in Central Bosnia and a single canton in Herzegovina, that is, cantons 6 and 8, as well as cantons 9 and 10 from the Croat Assembly map can be unified and power in them can be shared equally regardless of ethnic structure. Granić refused this explaining that Croats would then only have a single canton (Posavina). He suggested two cantons in Central Bosnia and two cantons in Herzegovina. The entire afternoon was wasted on negotiations over these four cantons and no agreement was reached. The border at the Neretva River and the border at Stolac remain an issue (both sides want these territories), in addition to the problem of Travnik in central Bosnia. Granić and his “crew” are ready to give up on Travnik, thus compromising the Lašvansko-lepeniĉki Canton that I had suggested. If this happens, the canton would make no sense.
The talks were directed in the wrong way, focused on corridors and the joining of territories as if we are dealing with dividing BiH instead of with establishing BiH.
10 May 1994
The meetings continued today in much the same vein: packaging ethnic territories into cantons to the greatest extent possible. There is haggling over every village, every house. I issued a warning yesterday about the talks going in the wrong direction. Harsh words were exchanged within the BiH delegation, especially with Silajdžić. I claimed that the talks should have been conducted within the framework of a united team of politicians and experts, instead of dividing us up into a “Croat” and a “Muslim” side. I did not agree with the argument that this was predetermined and that we could not avoid this cliché situation. I said that I did not want to participate in such talks because they go against a fundamental principle of the Constitution: the principle that the Federation of BiH is the united state of Croats and Bosniaks (Muslims), that it is a complex state in which federal units need to be determined together and in a way so that they can carry out the functions regulated to them by the Constitution. For obvious reasons, I also rejected the possibility of participating in the so-called Croat or the so-called Muslim delegation: I have been fighting up till now against ethnic states within BiH and I do not want to participate in the establishment of cantons as ethnic territories. This process has no end and even if it were to be finalised in this way, it would only result in further ethnic cleansing. Perhaps not via weapons but certainly via the psychology of ethnic grouping. I was not understood despite the harsh words that were exchanged. After lunch, I sought out V. Jakovich, the American Ambassador and I presented my opinions and position to him. I asked him to inform Radman and his administration of this and to use his influence in order to make the talks follow the principles of the Washington Agreement. I noticed that Radman had not travelled to Sarajevo last night as had been planned. He was again present at the talks today. I have been told that this morning he reacted in much the same way I had yesterday. This means that Jakovich has informed him of my opinion. It remains to be seen if this will have any effect. In any case, the talks are continuing today along much the same lines as yesterday. In the meantime, I gave an interview to Globus in which I explained my position and voiced my protests.
11 May 1994
Yesterday afternoon, I excused myself from the talks completely because I believe that arguing over every village will not yield any results. This morning Duraković informed me that they spent the whole time arguing over who would get three villages in the Stolac municipality. No progress was made. I do not want to go to the negotiations. I have decided to travel to Zagreb tomorrow where I will convene the HNV and inform them of the current state of affairs so that we can decide on our next move. I used the day to go for a walk and get to know the city a little bit. I was in the company of M. Stojić, F. Đapo and Z. Garmaz. We ended our walking tour of the city at a restaurant frequented by Kafka. They tell me that communist leaders (Trotsky and Tito) also frequented this place. In the afternoon, I visited our Embassy in Vienna. Ambassador Efendić wanted to know why I was not at the negotiations. I explained my position to him. He was, more or less, in agreement with me. Later, E. Kečo, the cultural attaché, joined us. It was a warm meeting with a colleague and friend I had studied with at the Department of Philosophy. While we were talking, the list of people who are supposed to travel to Geneva tomorrow arrived from the American Embassy. There were ten in total in the negotiating team of BiH, with the exception of Ljubić and me. The Embassy had requested visas for Switzerland. I asked that they book me flight to Zagreb tomorrow morning.
When I returned to the hotel, Ljubić called me. He came to pack up as he is leaving for Zagreb tonight by car. The agreement has been made, the borders have been determined and they are travelling to Geneva to sign everything? The solution is a compromise between an ethnic division and my suggestion of two cantons, one in Central Bosnia and the other in Herzegovina with parity in government. Changes were only made in Herzegovina: two cantons were formed, one with a purely Croat population and the other mixed and with parity in government (Mostar, Jablanica, Konjic, Prozor, Ĉapljina, Stolac, Neum and Ĉitluk). I believe that Radman had applied some pressure (he did not travel to Sarajevo today either). Ljubić tells me that there were several versions and that they had to agree on one. In the “Croat” delegation, Granić put all the versions up for a vote. The final version was passed by a majority vote (Zubak and Buntić were against, while Akmadţić, as usual, joined the majority which was formed by M. Ljubić and Pandţić traveling here from Zagreb). Zubak, who will probably be the President of the Federation, is against the agreement. It remains to be seen whether this will affect his actions as president. It is important that an agreement has been reached. There was too much tension and already news had arrived that convoys were being stopped and held up. New conflicts would have led everything into the abyss. The war would have lasted a long time and would have been destructive. I hope this way it has been avoided.
* * * I am ending my journal here. I do not want to turn a new page because I am afraid to continue the agony of my country with it. I am afraid that each new page is a new chapter in my country’s unfortunate fate. I now believe that my country has survived. I firmly believe this and I do not want to exchange my faith for the uncertainty of writing out the country’s history. I believe that we, too, have survived together with it. I have faith but no proof. My faith is stronger and firmer than the object of my faith, and I can no longer question it. That is why I am closing this book.
Chapter from the author’s The Survived Country – Dividing Bosnia and Herzegovina: Who, When, Where (Zagreb: Synopsis, 2013)
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