IS BiH PRIME MINISTER NIKOLA ŠPIRIĆ AN ANTISEMITIST?

The International Institute for Middle-East and Balkan Studies (IFIMES) in Ljubljana, Slovenia, regularly analyses events in the Middle East and the Balkans. IFIMES has recognised elements of antisemitism in frequent statements made by Chairman of the Council of Ministers (the Government) of Bosnia and Herzegovina Nikola Špirić and in his attacks against Bosnia and Herzegovina's Foreign Minister Sven Alkalaj related to the latter's ethnic origin (Jewish) which according to Špirić does not belong to any of the three constitutive nations of Bosnia and Herzegovina (Bosniaks, Serbs and Croats). In order to warn the public and call the responsible persons to take appropriate measures against such antisemitic tendencies, the IFIMES International Institute has issued the following press release

The International Institute for Middle-East and Balkan Studies (IFIMES) in Ljubljana, Slovenia, regularly analyses events in the Middle East and the Balkans. IFIMES has recognised elements of antisemitism in frequent statements made by Chairman of the Council of Ministers (the Government) of Bosnia and Herzegovina Nikola Špirić and in his attacks against Bosnia and Herzegovina's Foreign Minister Sven Alkalaj related to the latter's ethnic origin (Jewish) which according to Špirić does not belong to any of the three constitutive nations of Bosnia and Herzegovina (Bosniaks, Serbs and Croats).

In order to warn the public and call the responsible persons to take appropriate measures against such antisemitic tendencies, the IFIMES International Institute has issued the following press release:

The Chairman of the Council of Ministers of Bosnia and Herzegovina Nikola Špirić (Alliance of Independent Social Democrats, SNSD) has been publicly attacking the foreign minister of Bosnia and Herzegovina Sven Alkalaj since the latter's appointment to ministerial position after the general elections held on 1 October 2006, stating that Alkalaj is "a minister who nobody needs" and that he belongs to a minority nation which does not have the status of a constitutive nation and therefore has no place in the political life of Bosnia and Herzegovina. He bluntly referred to Alkalaj's Jewish origin and started a campaign against the foreign minister threatening to depose him, although according to the analysts' estimates Alkalaj is one of the most esteemed ministers who has been consistently acting in the interests of all the citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

This time Špirić proposed the deposing of Minister Alkalaj on the grounds of alleged conflict of interests, although the court proceedings initiated by Alkalaj have not even started yet, let alone ended.

The disquieting fact is that none of the responsible Bosnia and Herzegovina's and international officials reacted to the open expressions of antisemitism by Prime Minister Nikola Špirić!? There was no action taken by Prime Minister of Republika Srpska and SNSD President Milorad Dodik whose high official Špirić is, which triggers the question as to whether antisemitism is a part of political programme and activities of SNSD? In February 2008 the US administration imposed some "quiet" sanctions on SNSD when three US agencies including the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the National Democratic Institute (NDI) and the International Republican Institute (IRI) ceased to provide aid to SNSD whose President is the Prime Minister of Republika Srpska Milorad Dodik. The US Government decided to suspend the financing when it estimated that SNSD no longer fulfils the criteria for USAID aid programme. The American administration namely does not provide financial or technical assistance to any political and/or nationalistic party in Bosnia and Herzegovina whose activities are based on some ethnic preferences or nationalism. The political programme of SNSD is not in line with Bosnia and Herzegovina's tendencies towards the Euroatlantic integration. The US Administration established that the actions and statements made by SNSD have not contributed to the progress of Bosnia and Herzegovina, are not in line with the Dayton Agreement and do not support the state institutions necessary for realising the state's Euroatlantic integration.

The IFIMES International Institute expects that the Socialist International and the Party of European Socialists (PSE) will actively respond to SNSD's behaviour since with its recent activities the latter has compromised its membership and status in those distinguished international associations.

No measures against Špirić's statements have been taken by the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina which mandated Špirić to form the government.

There has been no reaction even on the part of the High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina and EU Special Representative Miroslav Lajčák who is mandated to depose Nikola Špirić and prohibit his public activities. This obviously triggers the question as to whether the incumbent High Representative Miroslav Lajčák is, like his predecessors, present in Bosnia and Herzegovina for private and business reasons and is thus connected to certain political structures in that country in order to realise some personal interests which prevents him from discharging fully his entrusted mandate of the international community in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The IFIMES International Institute is seriously concerned about the statements made by Špirić, especially since they were made in his Prime Minister function. This recalls the fact that six million Jews were killed in the Second World War and that tens of thousands of victims belonging to minority nations were slain in the region of former Yugoslavia. The history has shown that it all starts with statements such as Špirić has made, which eventually culminate in mass executions and slaughters. Ironically, Špirić's statements were made against the background of the European year of intercultural dialogue.

The IFIMES International Institute therefore calls the EU and the US administration to exert pressure on High Representative Miroslav Lajčák through the Peace Implementation Council in Bosnia and Herzegovina to take all the necessary measures, depose Prime Minister of Bosnia and Herzegovina Nikola Špirić and prohibit him from any public activities due to his recent public statements containing antisemitic elements. It also calls the organisations involved in fighting antisemitism, xenophobia and other forms of discrimination to put the "Špirić case" on their agenda

Ljubljana, 21 May 2008



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