Former Yugoslav president presents book in Prague

r_2100x1400_radio_praha.png

Yugoslavia was one of the few countries where Czechoslovak citizens could go on holiday to the seaside during the Communist era, and the relationship has always been a close one. The post-Communist split of Yugoslavia was - unlike the division of Czechoslovakia - a bloody affair, and the entire region will have to deal with the consequences of the wars for a long time. One of the people at the centre of events just before the outbreak of the conflict was the former Yugoslav president, Raif Dizdarevic, who was in Prague last week. Pavla Horakova reports.

Raif Dizdarevic was invited to Prague to present the Czech translation of his book, "From the Death of Tito to the Death of Yugoslavia". Mr Dizdarevic, who comes from the Bosnian capital Sarajevo, was the President of Bosnia and Herzegovina in the late 1970s and early 1980s. After that he became the speaker of the Yugoslav parliament. Between 1984-1988 he was Foreign Minister and in 1988 he was made president of Yugoslavia. Raif Dizdarevic was one of Tito's closest aides, before his death in 1980. As someone who witnessed his country fall apart and whole political systems in Europe crumble, Mr Dizdarevic welcomes European integration.

"I think that the globalisation and integration of Europe is good - it is the future of Europe. But I don't think it's good if Europe just copies America. Europe should maintain its integrity, its personality and as a union contribute to the whole world. Every country has to have a corrective element in other countries; otherwise its policies can get out of hand and turn into a monster. It's good that Europe is balanced by other parts of the world and a united Europe should function as a balance for America."

Raif Dizdarevic was a diplomat for several years before assuming high political office in his own country. In the 1960s he spent four years at the Yugoslav embassy in Prague, and his Czech remains perfect ever since. I asked Mr Dizdarevic about his impressions of Prague after all those years.

"I'm really happy that the old Prague has been preserved and I admire it. I spent all day walking around Prague and I was extremely tired. But something disturbed me. In the old part of Prague, in the beautiful streets, on the picturesque buildings, all of a sudden I saw horrible advertisements, which clashed with the beauty of old Prague. I would be happy if those advertisements could somehow be adjusted to suit old Prague."