Washington, DC: On Thursday, February 4, 2016, National Federation of Croatian American representatives, John Kraljic, Steve Rukavina and Joe Foley, met with the President of Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Marinko Čavara, a Croat from Bosnia and Herzegovina. President Čavara was in the nation's capital for the annual National Prayer Breakfast. That morning, President Obama addressed our Bosnian Croat guest and 3,500 others at the Washington Hilton at this annual spiritual event which draws government officials from all over the world.
President Marinko Čavara was excited to meet with activists within the Croatian American community and he has served as the Federation President since early 2015. It is important to note that with his Federation Presidency, and with Dragan Covic, the Chair of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina on the national level, that there are now two Croatians in top leadership positions dealing with many issues surrounding Bosnia and Herzegovina national political structures that either discriminate against the Bosnian Croat community or serve as barriers to equal opportunity throughout the entirety of Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH).
Over a two hour meeting, President Marinko Čavara shared many details about the on-going dysfunctionality of the Dayton Peace Accord and how it adversely affects and discriminates against the Bosnian Croat community. Electoral law changes in 2002 imposed unilaterally by the OHR High Representative Wolfgang Petritsch have created lingering and on-going issues that will have further negative effects on Bosnian Croat political representation in the future. The Federation President outlined how certain electoral law provisions altered by High Rep Wolfgang Petrish threaten the political viability of the Bosnian Croat community in the Federation and undermine the community's constitutional rights on the national level. He specifically detailed ways that the Croatian community has become an also ran in BiH political structures and how it is continually losing leverage in the political process; thus, for example, through the manipulation of the electoral law, ever fewer ministry positions will be provided to legitimate representatives of the Bosnian Croat community.
President Marinko Čavara is hopeful that the US Department of State, which played such a critical role in creation of the Washington Agreement and the Dayton Peace Accord, will choose to be more engaged in the future to guarantee that all political and civil rights for the Bosnian Croat community, as had been promised in the past with both agreements, are upheld and guaranteed. It must be stressed in this regard that, at a recent late January 2016 meeting with White House officials, tasked with monitoring activities in Southeastern Europe, NFCA leaders were informed that the neither the European Union nor the United States would be pushing for a “Dayton Peace Accord II Summit,” to modernize the 1995 Accord, to take place this year.
Joe Foley explained and shared more details about Congressional resolution H. Res. 477 recently re-introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by Congresswoman Janice Hahn. The Resolution's language specifically calls for more U.S. engagement in and an American Special Envoy for BiH. This House Resolution is written to address the lingering on-going Dayton Peace Accord constitutional issues that hold that country back and keep it dysfunctional. The NFCA strongly believes that the Bosnian Croat community is the glue that will ensure that BiH meets the necessary stable political and econmic criteria for the country to move towards membership into any Euro-Atlantic member groups. President Čavara shared the fact that the Bosnian Croat community does favor both NATO ascension and EU membership for BiH.
The group discussed the challenges within the overall economy and the need for investments in BiH. Steve Rukavina shared some specific examples of Croatian Americans who may be interested in investment opportunities. The significance of the Ionian pipeline for BiH and Southeastern Europe was discussed from a geo-political perspective. The need for job creation was agreed upon as the most important determinant to keep Bosnian Croatian youth within the country.
#The NFCA Cultural Foundation is a national umbrella organization established by and for Croatian Americans in 1993 and dedicated to Croatian causes in the USA.