August 14, 1995 Vreme News Digest Agency No 202


Silajdzic's Resignation

by Ljiljana Smailovic

Haris Silajdzic lost the struggle for power in Bosnia-Herzegovina in the classical ex-Yugoslav Communist tradition. According to the party state model, only someone strongly supported by the ruling party wing can remain at the top of the state pyramid

Silajdzic offered his resignation to the post of Prime Minister only last week in Zenica, but it appears he had lost his power much earlier, when he left the post of Vice-President of the Party of Democratic Action (SDA) six months ago.

Silajdzic is likely to be replaced by one of the following figures: Edhem Bicakcic, convicted together with Alija Izetbegovic at the Sarajevo trial of "Moslem fundamentalists" in 1983 and a power-wielder in the SDA, Hasan Muratovic, an electrical engineer, professor at Sarajevo University, and a Minister in Siladjzic's Government and his most likely successor, and Kasim Begic, Sarajevo Law College professor and SDA senior official.

Those well informed about the Bosnian political situation say that the continuity of the state policy will not be altered in the least if Muratovic takes over as Prime Minister. He is a player on the bench and will neither alter the tactic nor the former concept of the team.

Republican President Alija Izetbegovic is the sole decision-maker in Bosnia. He is the only one who has come out of each individual clash and each political showdown even stronger. No-one knows better than him how much Silajdzic should be credited for Bosnia-Herzegovina's international recognition and reputation in the world; therefore, no-one knows better than him the extact extent of the political "sacrifice" he suffers with Siladjzic's amputation first from the political and then from the state leadership. The fact that Izetbegovic is letting Silajdzic go is an expression of his new awareness that Silajdzic, as well as anyone else, cannot take away with him too much of the dowry he had once brought the party. Silajdzic's reputation, his confident charm, multi-lingual abilities, negotiating skills, European smoothness and sophistication, are already considerably incorporated in the Bosnian state and nation and Siladjzic cannot extract them from the foundations, even if he wanted to. It is in that sense that Silajdzic's departure is the symptom of the new self-assurance and self-confidence, even self-sufficiency of the Bosnian political leadership.

In America and the West in general, Siladjzic patiently has built an image of himself as a moderate politician blocking radicalization on Islamic bases. He is the author of the Western concept of Bosnian Moslems as secularized Europeans whom "Serbian grenades have driven to Islam". Silajdzic represented a great counter-balance to the West's apprehension of "Moslem danger", the personification of the "desired" type of a Moslem, educated, secularized, "westernized". Well aware of the West's ambivalent feelings towards Islam, Silajdzic skilfully dosed the foreign concept of the danger of Islamic radicalization in Bosnia, offering himself to the Western government as a guarantor that such tendencies would not prevail while he was on the top. Actually, his Government, set up in the autumn of 1993, was the first almost ethnically clean Bosnian Government. He explained that in the following way: "If our country is Moslem nearly 100%, then it is normal for the Government to have the same percentage of Moslems".

The setting of his political star in SDA will mostly be mourned by members of the urban strata of the Bosnian population, the educated ones, the city folk who still nurture some hope that life will again resemble the tolerant, multi-cultural and multi-national life before the war.

Ljiljana Smailovic



Profile: Haris Silajdzic


Resigning Bosnian Prime Minister


Last political statement: "I am a man who resigns once"


General information: Born in Sarajevo in 1945. His father was the Imam of the famous Beg's Mosque in Sarajevo.


Education: PhD in history. Graduated Islamic studies in 1971 at the Libyan University in Benghazi. Assistant Professor of Arabian at Pristina University. Master's Degree in 1979, thesis "Albanian National Movement in Bosnia-Herzegovina Press". PhD at Pristina University College of Philosophy, thesis: "US Policy on Albania in the 1912-1939 Period". Ali Hadri was his mentor. Kosovo History Institute sent him on a 9-month sabbatical in Washington.


Career: Founded the Party of Democratic Action together with Alija Izetbegovic in Sarajevo in May 1990. After winning the November 1990 elections, became Chairman of the Bosnia-Herzegovina Republican Committee for International Cooperation, later renamed Foreign Minister of Bosnia-Herzegovina. First diplomatic feat: first Foreign Minister of a former Yugoslav republic to receive in that capacity the then head of the State Department, James Baker. This happened in March 1992, one month before Bosnia-Herzegovina was recognized. Baker promised him he would urge the soonest possible recognition of Bosnia-Herzegovina.


Wartime career: Spent the first year of the war abroad, returning to Bosnia in September 1993 and taking over as Prime Minister. Organized arrests of Musan Topalovic Caco and Ramiz Delalic Celo, infamous Sarajevo criminals. Proclaimed most popular political leader in Sarajevo in a number of public opinion polls conducted by Sarajevo independent radio stations. In the last poll, Josip Broz Tito took second place and Alija Izetbegovic third.


Famous statement: "If you kill one man, you go to jail. If you kill twenty men, you become famous, but if you kill 200,000 people, you'll be invited to the peace talks in Geneva"


Plan for Bosnia: One of the first to urge the West's armed intervention against Serbia: "Milosevic and the Serbian regime must go." He is against Bosnia's division and urges the US plan on a Bosnian-Croatian Federation. He was against the Split agreement on military cooperation between Bosnia-Herzegovina and Croatia, fearing it would open doors to the Serbo-Croat division of Bosnia. Vehemently advocates the "Serbian Fascism" thesis. "We are fighting not only to preserve multi-national Bosnia, but to preserve democracy attacked by Fascism".


Next moves: The possibility of him setting up his own political party is not ruled out. Rumor has it that he might become closer to or join Nijaz Durakovic's renamed communists (SDP - Social-Democratic Party). Durakovic has in the meantime ideologically and politically neared SDA about as much as Silajdzic has distanced himself from it, so they may meet half way.