Bosnia and Herzegovina's ambassador to Australia, Mirza Hajrić, commented on a Facebook post of sexist insults by the Deputy Secretary of the BiH Presidency, Dženan Selimbegović, addressed to female journalists Sanela Prašović Gadžo and Arijana Saračević Helać.
"I can already imagine them and who they are," read a comment to a post that supported Selimbegović's insults, coming from the profile "Mirza Hajrić Private."
We contacted the Ambassador by email, trying to get an explanation for his comment. "Since you are supporting the sexist comments of BiH civil servant and employee of the Presidency of BiH, Dženan Selimbegović, we are interested in hearing if your views are aligned with those of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) or with the BiH Presidency? Please also explain your comment 'I can already imagine them,'" Oslobodjenje asked Hajrić.
Here is the BiH Ambassador's response in its entirety.
"'Mirza Hajrić Private' is my Facebook profile, and whoever views it clearly sees that it is for my relatives, friends, and people I know. All communication, including comments, is completely personal and as such it is not the subject of information sharing. That's my attitude.
There is no rule that for my personal opinion, even if I had published it in the media - which I did not, I have to ask for instructions from the MFA. Also, you are making a mistake in characterization: In diplomacy, positions with the MFA are not negotiated and instructions are to be implemented!
You are a colleague from Oslobodjenje, where I began my career as a journalist and as such it is a newspaper I am emotionally attached to, and which, because of professionals such as Gojko Berić, I respect. That is why I will satisfy your request for my personal reaction. First of all, let me respond objectively: No, I did not support the statement to which you refer. There isn't a 'like' or similar reaction.
Please elaborate what gave you such an impression? I despise insults through information sharing, and I am distancing myself from them.
From Australia, where I have been for over six months now, I could not have known these people because thanks to the inadequate management of BHRT, it is not possible to watch our satellite program.
Even before I came here I stopped watching BHRT because, in my opinion - again one that is personal and private - they are crumbling the reputation of this profession. The editor-in-chief has allowed herself to repeat something that happened "for the first time ..."; statements in the main preview of the BiH public service are given by people in sunglasses; and what is particularly irritating is the fact that anchors often look rumpled with messy hairstyles, are inappropriately dressed, and even look dirty, I hear they appear with piercings, that they are mispronouncing most words ...
My, as you say, "remark" ("I can already imagine them") is specifically related to this ugly and sad appearance on public broadcast without knowing the individuals this is about.
Let me also point out that in the first post-war years I was a correspondent on the BiH Presidency, reporting on the transformation of the public broadcasting system, and I am frustrated that this process has been on a blind track without capable managers for many years.
I would say that I know both journalists very well, and that even though I have not personally met Dženan Selimbegović, on the basis of their appearance in the media I have an opinion on all three, but again it is a personal one.
Finally, I would ask you to please explain for what purpose this interests you? You should tell me this clearly," Ambassador Hajrić wrote to Oslobodjenje.
Violating the law
Oslobodjenje will ask an official statement from the BiH Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
As a reminder, the Deputy Secretary of the BiH Presidency, Dženan Selimbegović, wrote a series of insults on Facebook against anchors of the public broadcasting service Sanela Prašović Gadžo and Arijana Saračević Helać.
The Association of BiH journalists stated that senior civil servant Selimbegović wrote sexually insulting content and misogynist commentary that promote sexism, hatred and sexual prejudices in the public space. BiH journalists, including Prašović Gadžo, are demanding the BiH Presidency to sanction the behavior of the Deputy Secretary of the BiH Presidency.
We have yet to hear from the Bosniak Member of the BiH Presidency, Bakir Izetbegović, who is also the head of the political party where Selimbegović is a member.
Fellow party-member, Edin Ramić, who is the Minister of Displaced Persons and Refugees, supported Selimbegović.
The only position from the BiH Presidency came from Mladen Ivanić, the Republika Srpska member, who condemned Selimbegović's sexist insults.
We should also note that "disturbance is considered to be discrimination in any situation in which behavior on one of the grounds from Article 2 of this Law (direct and indirect discrimination) has the purpose or effect of violating the dignity of the person and the creation of a hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment, is contained in Article 2 of the Law on Prohibition of Discrimination.
Also, the Rulebook on Disciplinary Responsibility of Civil Servants in the Institutions of Bosnia and Herzegovina regulates disciplinary issues, measures, and procedures for civil servants in BiH institutions.
"If improper behavior is expressed as an offense on a national, religious, sexual or racial basis, it will be punished by reducing the responsible's salary by 15 to 30 percent for a period of three to six months, by degradating to a lower employment position, or by terminating employment in the civil service," as stated in the Rulebook on Disciplinary Responsibility of Civil Servants in BiH Institutions.
Translated by: Tea IVANOVIĆ
(Original version: Ambasador Hajrić samo privatno podržava Selimbegovića u vrijeđanju novinarki)