bosnia report
New Series No: 37-38 January - March 2004
Don't demand revenge, demand justice!
by Alija Izetbegovic

Izetbegovic's last public address from his hospital bed, given in an interview with Senad Hadžifejzović, Hayat Sarajevo TV, 27 September2003

Don't demand revenge, demand justice!

‘Salaam, Senad, salaam and good evening to you and your viewers; I wish you much happiness and success in your new job. I feel better than the reports say, but apparently I’m wrong, my feelings are mistaken. The reports are true, my condition is quite poor. During a chunk of fifty years of my life I was a perfectly healthy man, but the time has come to be sick too.

Paddy Ashdown has been twice to see me and I did all I could [about the defence law]. I think I did the right thing. I wish to take this opportunity to stress again how important it is for us to join Partnership for Peace, to fulfill the conditions. Within the next two, three or four months we shall join the Partnership, which is very important for Bosnia-Herzegovina, since our future continues to be called in doubt. When we enter that partnership, this will no longer be the case.

I like people visiting me. Fra Petar Anđelović came, to my great delight. As for meeting President Clinton, it was a short visit - we did not talk politics. I took the opportunity to thank him for what he has done for Bosnia - he has done a great deal - and I particularly thanked him for going to Srebrenica that day. I don’t know - it is a matter for history - but in my judgement Clinton is a great president and a good man, he represents the beautiful face of America. [...]

It would appear that nothing happens without a reason. We have survived, thank God, Bosnia-Herzegovina has survived, and that is all that matters. Regarding my visit to your studio, I’m not sure I shall see you again, but - as in the poem in which each verse ends with this refrain - it doesn’t matter any more. I don't know whether you know the poem, it’s a beautiful one... I have many messages and don't know which to choose on this occasion. I think the most important thing is for the Serbs to remain Serb, the Croats Croat and the Bosniaks Bosniak, but also for them above all to be Bosnian - this is crucial for Bosnia's preservation. I would also add that there should be no revenge, but only justice; that no one should seek revenge and that everyone should seek justice. If they opt for revenge, it will start an endless chain of evil. I would also add that they shouldn’t live in the past, but they shouldn’t forget it either - they should look towards the future.

I’d like to tell the government that the political problems in Bosnia-Herzegovina are no longer dominant - I think we have largely solved them, and that it’s the social problems that await us now. They should do more to look after old-age pensioners... and introduce progressive taxes on high earnings, since it isn’t right that some earn in a day what others receive as a monthly pension. This is dishonest, it must not be, they should do something about that. If I were in government, if I were asked, I would introduce progressive taxes on high earnings and transfer the revenues to the pension fund.’


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