Croatia Accused of Interfering in Bosnian Internal Affairs

By 7 December 2018

ZAGREB, December 7, 2018 - Three former high representatives of the international community in Bosnia and Herzegovina have sent a letter to the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Federica Mogherini, warning her that Croatia has been interfering in Bosnian internal affairs and stressing that attempts to contest the election of Željko Komšić as a member of the collective state presidency, which are also made by Croatian officials, are unacceptable.

The regional N1 network carried the letter signed by former High Representatives Carl Bildt, Paddy Ashdown and Christian Schwarz-Schilling, in which they remind Mogherini and EU foreign ministers that the ruling of the Bosnia and Herzegovina Constitutional Court, which serves as a basis to challenge Komšić's election – actually refers to the election of members of the House of Peoples of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina entity and not to the election of state Presidency members.

The wrong interpretation of the Ljubić case is used as an argument against the legally elected Croat member of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Željko Komšić. Representatives of the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) of Croatia, together with HDZ BiH leader Dragan Čović, claim that Komšić's election is illegitimate and unconstitutional. However, neither the Constitution of Bosnia and Herzegovina nor the country's election law state that Presidency members have to be elected by "their" ethnic groups, the three former diplomats, who had the role of chief interpreters of the Dayton peace agreement, say in the letter.

They recall that Čović was elected to the Presidency twice in line with existing election rules.

It is of crucial importance that at its meeting in December the EU Foreign Affairs Council sends a clear message to political parties in Bosnia and Herzegovina as well as those outside the country that interfere in its internal affairs, reads the letter.

The former high representatives believe that the EU should send a clear message that any reform of the country's election system should make the country more functional and not generate new divisions along ethnic lines.

The second important message they underlined is that the establishment of the government is the main priority, that Bosnia and Herzegovina's borders are inviolable and that Croatia should not interfere in Bosnia and Herzegovina's internal affairs as well as that the European Commission should publish its opinion on Bosnia and Herzegovina's candidate status application as soon as possible.

In a separate statement for N1, Schwarz-Schilling said that he, Bildt and Ashdown had decided to send the letter in order to "stop Croatia's diplomatic offensive" and accused Croatian officials of lying when describing the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

They are mixing the election law and the issue of election of Presidency members, and that is a huge lie used for propaganda against Komšić, Schwarz-Schilling said, adding that the letter was prompted by the fact that no one was clarifying that issue in public.

For more on the relations between Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, click here.