German Social Democrat Josip Juratovic expects a compromise between Belgrade and Pristina, but points out that there are previous agreements that have not been implemented. He talks to DW about Serbia’s image in the West and the complicated situation in BiH.
“Unfortunately, Serbia has taken the baton of evil from Germany”, says German Social Democrat MEP Josip Juratovic in an interview with DW, adding that such a picture of Serbia is not fair.
“When you look at culture, films, when you speak in our parliament, you move anywhere … when you say Serbia, Vucic, nationalism, friends of Putin … That’s the image,” Juratovic says.
“Actually, I don’t think it’s fair to Serbia. Because I know that just as there are nationalists, there are also democrats who need to be organised and helped,” he adds.
Expects a compromise on Kosovo
When it comes to the Franco-German proposal on Kosovo, Juratović expects a compromise, but adds that the question is what will happen next, “because they often made compromises”.
One issue where there seems to be no compromise is the creation of Association of Serbian Municipalities, which is the first demand of Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic. But Kosovo Prime Minister Albin Kurti reiterates that he will not allow the creation of what he calls a “Republika Srpska in Kosovo”.
Juratovic says that Kurti has to decide in what context the Association of Serbian Municipalities will be organised, but that the Kosovo Prime Minister is right to accuse him of not wanting a “state within a state”.
“Vučić will have to stop manipulating the Serbs in Kosovo, not only Vučić, but we know who is behind it. On the other hand, Kosovo will have to accept the fact that there is a community of interest that is present there and needs to be integrated into Kosovo,” says Juratović.
Recognition will become irrelevant
Juratović believes that the actions of Serbia and Kosovo “on the international scene, through the Berlin Process, through EU accession, through many other things” will make the question of recognition or non-recognition of the two countries “irrelevant”.
“Because who today is interested in the dispute between Slovenia and Croatia, who is interested in the fact that the border issue between Belgium and Germany is not yet settled”, says Juratović.
And that the Western Balkan countries should no longer be just “perpetual candidates” on the EU path, the party to which Juratović belongs has argued in a recently adopted strategy document.
“The status of perpetual candidates not only undermines the credibility of the EU, but even more so the position of pro-European and democratic actors in the six Western Balkan countries,” the German Social Democrats’ document reads.
But the road to full membership is still long: “This depends on the EU and its political will, where, to be honest, there are also some problems. The question is whether society in the EU wants enlargement, but there is also work to be done on the ground. I am against the EU constantly blaming itself for not doing enough. That is a lie,” says Juratović.
Full support for the High Representative in Bosnia and Herzegovina
Juratovic, who is very much involved in the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina, says that Christian Schmidt has his full support as High Representative. He rejects the claims by former High Representatives Carl Bildt and Wolfgang Petrich that the institution of the High Representative itself has become part of the problem.
Juratović recalls that the German Bundestag supported this institution last year with a resolution in BiH, “which, although against my will, was misused in the pre-election campaign”.
He is referring to the fact that the resolution mentions Milorad Dodik and Dragan Covic by name as part of the problem, as the most prominent representatives of the nationalist Serb and Croat forces in BiH, but not Bakir Izetbegovic. Juratović considered that Izetbegović should also be mentioned.
“The resolution says precisely that we support the High Representative. This is because we do not know how long each one has been in office. That is why there is no name, but when I say High Representative, I mean Christian Schmidt. It says the same in the document, which is a strategic document that the SPD-Germany adopted unanimously two weeks ago,” says Juratović. “So there is no doubt. It is unanimous.”
Forced to form a government
To the many criticisms of Schmidt’s work, which mostly concern the changes to the electoral law and the Constitution of the Federation of BiH, Juratović replies, “The essence of these decisions is that they are forced to establish a government in the Federation of BiH.”
Juratović says that the problem of those who criticize is not Schmidt’s decisions per se: “Their problem is that there is no SDA and Democratic Front in that government of the Federation. If they were in that range, there would be no problems for Schmidt.”
To the statement that the FBiH government is not yet formed, Juratovic says: “We are now in that phase.”
“I know that this is a problem for the Bosnians because now it looks as if Izetbegovic has been removed as the leader of nationalism, and two others, Dodik and Covic, are left. But with the processes that are going on now, neither Dodik nor Covic are sure about their future”, says Juratovic.
He denies speculation that the international community in BiH does not actually want the SDA in power, as Bakir Izetbegovic, the party’s president, recently said himself: “The international community has nothing to do with the formation of the coalition. This is a general lie”, Juratovic concludes./Antena M/