Mladen Ivanic, the president of Bosnia and Herzegovina, shared his point of view with all-andorra.com regarding the global political questions discussed during the Nizami Ganjavi International Center Andorra Sessions on June, 13th and 14th.
Interview: Irina Rybalchenko
Was this the first time you participated in this conference?
No, this is the third time I have attended.
Among the questions discussed during the conference, issues such as globalization, security, the EU immigration policy came up…In terms of the topics, what was new this year compared to the previous years?
Basically, I guess that these kinds of conferences are very useful, as they allow us to exchange opinions and bring new waves of thinking. One of the main issues that was discussed this year was an immigration policy. It looks like there is no problem with immigrants anymore, as all refugee movement has been brought to a halt, thanks to cooperation between Turkey and the EU. However, the underlying reason for the immigrants’ waves has not been solved so far. The problem relates to the Middle Easts’ legal and economical level of development, which will continue to exist in the future and I don’t think that the EU will be able to find a real solution to avoid it.
But the economic problem is not so important at the moment, the most important problem is the security – this is a general problem.
Generally speaking, how fair are policies on the EU immigration from your point of view?
On the one hand, giving political refuge means that the EU has to fulfill peoples’ expectations, provide them with real human rights, as well as education and so on. This is a complex issue. On the other hand, I can understand the refugees who want to continue living life as normally as possible, and so seek these basic necessities. However, speaking on behalf of my country, I would say it is not very attractive for refugees. So, we are not faced with many challenges. We have some disabled people from Libya who are using our health system, and some of them ask to stay, but it’s normally not a big number who choose to do that. But, if we are faced with the same problem in a different context, or in the future on a larger scale, it would be hugely problematic because many of the refugees are from Islamic countries and this mixture of race, religion and culture could create a lot of political clashes. I don’t think we would be an open and welcoming country for refugees.
What is your opinion regarding the globalization of the economy and its consequences for the middle class?
The middle class is a main resource for political elite formation. I mean solidly educated persons. Generally, the middle class is slowly disappearing; the situation is not the same as it was in 1970-1980, when the middle class was the basis of the whole society. Now we have more extremes between the rich and the poor. It creates potential clashes between these groups of people. Because of this we have populist lobbying and very extreme political approaches.
How will the relationship between Europe and the United States change after the presidential elections in the US?
There won’t be a big change after the US presidential election. This is a bureaucracy which creates a general position in big countries. I don’t expect any extreme changes.
From your point of view who has a better chance of winning: Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump?
If you speak from an average point of view it would be Clinton. If you consider current world trends, Trump is also a possible winner. Anyway, I think that overall there will only be a very small difference between them.
What do you think the consequences will be if the UK leaves the EU? Could it provoke the potential collapse of the EU?
The rest of the EU will stay together. First of all, because of security reasons; small countries won’t be able to fight against global terrorism alone. To be together is the only way to control the situation better. There are more advantages of being part of the EU, and creating a stronger team together, and so that’s why it will survive.
All small European countries such as Liechtenstein, Andorra, Monaco and Malta are not a part of the EU. Do you think that’s wise of them?
Small countries are not members of the EU because it helps them to keep their competitive tax policies. Formally, they are out of the EU, although they still geographically fall within the EU’s boundaries.
What is the relationship between Bosnia and Herzegovina and Russian oil and Russian gas companies like? The South stream project has been stopped. Are you disappointed with this decision?
It was a good idea to build a pipeline to connect the northern part of Bosnia and Herzegovina with the Sough Stream pipeline. We supported it and we were disappointed with the decision to stop this project because we had an agreement to import gas via that project. But it was a decision we couldn’t influence. I would be pleased if it would be possible to restart this project in the future, as we don’t have any real alternative for the moment.
How do you cooperate with Zabubezhneft, which produces base oils and engine oils in your country?
Zarubezhneft has owned a Bosnian refinery for the last 8 years. The company also has a huge number of gas stations in Bosnia. Lukoil also has gas stations thanks to the company’s industry in Serbia. For the moment both companies have invested about 200 million euros in our country, and we hope that their investments will grow. It’s also important that the companies brought their knowledge and expertise to our market.
What do you think about the EU sanctions policy against Russia?
Normal negotiations are always better than sanctions. The current stage is not acceptable. Psychologically, the EU and Russia have different interests in the Middle East and Ukraine, but I hope that a compromise will be found soon. Normal cooperation would be much more useful for both sides.