Speaking from his hospital room, Izetbegovic urged Bosnia’s three ethnic communities – Croats, Muslims and Serbs – who fought each other during a brutal civil war from 1992 to 1995, to reconcile their differences and move on.

"People should turn themselves towards the future and not the revenge, since the revenge initiates a series of evil things," Izetbegovic said.

In the short telephone interview that he gave from his hospital bed, Izetbegovic sounded in good spirits.

"I feel better than reports on my health say," he told the Sarajevo-based Hayat television channel.

However, Izetbegovic immediately added that his "condition is grave."

According to his doctors, the 78-year-old ex-leader’s remained critical.

Health problems

Izetbegovic, a key figure during the civil war, has already suffered two heart attacks. He was admitted to a Sarajevo clinic on 10 September after he fainted at home and fractured four ribs.

Since then he has developed respiratory and circulation problems as well as an internal bleeding in his chest.

Izetbegovic has history of cardiac problems and wears a pacemaker.

He won worldwide sympathy by running his Bosnian government from sandbagged buildings during the three-and-a-half-year-long siege of Sarajevo by Bosnian Serbs while under constant threat of their artillery and sniper attacks.

Izetbegovic held the Muslim seat in Bosnia's post-war presidency, which has a rotating chairmanship that also includes a Serb and a Croat representative.

He stepped down from the presidency in October 2000 because of failing health and advanced age.