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Bosnia: Minister Talks About Country's 'Disintegration' At Forum 2000

By Jolyon Naegele and Jeremy Bransten

Prague, 4 September 1997 (RFE/RL) - Bosnia-Herzegovina's Co-Prime Minister Haris Silajdzic says that Bosnia, once a monument to multicultural coexistence, is today being allowed to disintegrate.

He says there are implications for everyone's future in the fact that this disintegration is occurring.

Silajdzic's comments came in an address in Prague today to Forum 2000, a gathering of some of the world's foremost thinkers, politicians and religious leaders.

He said that for a thousand years his land had been a refuge for people fleeing from persecution. But, referring to the impact of the collapse of communist rule on the Balkans, Silajdzic said a great part of the Berlin Wall had fallen on Bosnia.

He said the international community is now paying the price for this, trying to pick up the pieces and to build a bridge to the future.

In separate remarks to journalists, Silajdzic said Bosnia is a test case for the world, a fuse that blows whenever tension develops.

He also commented on the power struggle now going on in the Bosian Serb entity between President Biljana Plavsic and Serb hardliners headed by indicted war crimes suspect Radovan Karadzic.

He said Plavsic can be trusted, since she cares about her people, and she realises that the hardliners are "speeding towards destruction." But he cautioned that Plavsic still remains a nationalist. By contrast, her chief rival Karadzic is not so much a nationalist as a pragmatist who would do anything to retain power. Further, neither Karadzic nor Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic care about the people, he said.

Silajdzic said most Bosnian Serbs are siding with Plavsic in the power struggle in the Bosnian Serb entity, because they are fed up that their expectations have not been fulfilled. He said Bosnia's Serbs today live miserably, are isolated, and are being terrorized by the secret police, by the mafia, and by war criminals.

Silajdzic said it's quite clear that the war criminals in the hardliners' headquarters of Pale are engaged in a struggle for their existence, because implementation of the Dayton peace accords would mean the end of the road for them.

Forum 2000 has been organized by Czech President Vaclav Havel and Romanian-born Jewish writer Elie Wiesel.