Monday, 7 November 2022

AWFT22 Reflections for Croatia: Sustainable Tourism Development in BiH

November 7, 2022 – Although this year’s A World for Travel forum was dominated by stories from the host France, the USA, the UK, Spain, and other European countries, a few keynote speakers showed up to represent the underdogs. Jamaica’s minister of tourism, Bartlett, had stories to tell and could have kept going for days. Just ask Rajan Datar of BBC, who moderated the panels and was tasked with signaling “wrap it up.” A few interesting stories came from Croatia’s neighbours, Bosnia and Herzegovina. As we wrote, contracts were signed between the Global Travel and Tourism Resilience Council, Intrepid Travel, The Travel Corporation, and USAID’s Developing Sustainable Tourism in Bosnia and Herzegovina (Turizam) to facilitate the development of sustainable tourism in BiH.


This made us think – is Croatia late for this train? Of course, the way and why tourism developed in Croatia is vastly different from BiH’s situation. With the Adriatic Sea there, it was almost inevitable that tourism would eventually bloom in Croatia. Whatever the supporting factors were (social media, the EU, marketing), the fact is that it happened somewhat rapidly and before the infrastructure was ready to support mass tourism. Dubrovnik is the perfect example.

What struck us the most in the panels with BiH is how much they emphasized the environment, underlining that their mission includes avoiding and mitigating mass tourism at all costs. With the help of their foreign partners, BiHis doing the opposite of what happened to Croatia – making tourism work for them, slowly, thoughtfully, and with a long-term plan. They did, of course, learn from Croatia, as there were many examples of what was done right, too. But it might not be a bad idea for Croatia to peek over the border and copy a few ideas on how to keep doing it sustainably.

An important point for BiH was the engagement and involvement of local communities in tourism. Whether that is local wineries, farms, or accommodation units. With an increase in OPGs and domaćinstva that now take part in Croatia, it was interesting to discuss the importance of developing this part of the tourist infrastructure. TCN spoke to BiH’s delegation at AWFT – Sabina Sahman Salihbegovic and Inja Hadzialic Bubalo of the Federal Ministry of the Environment and Tourism.


USAID - Turizam

How do you view Croatia and the way tourism has developed there?

“We see Croatia as a good example of tourism development; it is a well-branded destination and a famous one. Many tourists from our country go to Croatia, they love staying there and visiting the beautiful places you have.

Would you say that tourism has been developing sustainably in Croatia?

Tourism in Croatia has been developing sustainably, but there is always room to improve.

Have you seen good examples of community involvement/engagement in Croatia?

We find an example of good local community engagement at the Plitvice Lakes, a good community bond, tourist offer, and public sector.

What do Croatia and BiH have in common to benefit the sustainable future of tourism?

Croatia and BiH have much in common; we speak the same language, we have similar traditions, historical bonds, beautiful monuments, nature, an attractive offer, and friendly people...

What are the main differences between the two countries?

The differences between us are mostly connected to the state government and the levels of power, but that is not something that should put tourism in a bad position...after all, tourism does not know borders...

We are stronger if we stand together – what are Croatia and BiH doing to use their geographical and cultural proximity to facilitate positive trends?

We can do much together by attracting tourists from around the world to both countries. Tour operators and travel agencies from our countries have already created connected itineraries so that for a few days tourists stay in Croatia and a few in BiH, and we can work more on our joint marketing and promotion, especially in long-distance markets.

While we might be competitors locally, competing on the global market together would make a lot of sense. Long-distance tourists are always looking to get the most out of their visit and want to travel as much as possible to the new part of the world. Croatia and BiH, but our other neighbours as well, could complement each other and create a fantastic offer.

What can foreign media do to support community involvement/engagement?

Foreign media can report about the beauties of our countries, of their unrevealed nature, parks, and protected areas.

How can we enhance community involvement/engagement in the diaspora?

Diaspora is valuable to every aspect of the economy, so it is for BiH and tourism. We can encourage people living outside their country to speak more about their home country to invite their friends and relatives to come and visit.

How do you view digital nomads, what is their role?

Digital nomads are coming; it is like a new way of life, a new way of doing tourism... We welcome them to BiH.

Are there cross-border tourism initiatives? What do you think about turning the region into a digital nomad hub?

Some projects are developing around cross-border digital nomad projects but still need real initiative. Of course, there is a legal matter concerning their period of stay in a particular country. We welcome all ideas aimed at developing tourism, so this one about a digital nomads hub is a good one and definitely something we could discuss in the future.

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated Travel section.

Tuesday, 3 May 2022

Plenković Accuses Milanović, Bridge of Hypocritical Policy Towards Bosnia Croats

ZAGREB, 3 May 2022 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said on Monday evening that President Zoran Milanović and his "supporters" from the Bridge party were pursuing a hypocritical policy aimed at doing harm to the government and to the Croats in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Plenković said that Milanović's proposal that members of the Croatian parliament should vote against the accession of Finland and Sweden to NATO was perfidious.

"He (Milanović) has not said that he will block their accession. He has disseminated a perfidious, even worse claim. It was him who said that he would call MPs traitors and he insisted that the Parliament should block (their accession)," Plenković said explaining "the perfidious situation" created by Milanović.

The PM elaborated that this political game was aimed at destabilising Croatia's institutions, the government, and doing harm to the Croats in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

He also noted that as far as he could see, only Milanović was against Sweden's and Finland's membership of the alliance, while nobody else in NATO supported such idea.

"Such attitude against NATO's expansion is a pro-Russian stance. He is the only one who advocates that. Only those who advocate pro-Russian views can be satisfied with such attitude," Plenković said, recalling Milanović's criticism of Ukraine.

Plenković noted that Milanović's pro-Russian position does harm to Croatia in international circles and also to the Croats in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

As for the election law in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Plenković said that the election system in that country was bad not only for the Croats but also for the whole of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Croatia's government believes that the election law must be amended, he added.

The government works on that consistently, it holds talks with the Bosniaks, the Croats and partners in the international community on that topic, Plenković added.

Saturday, 26 March 2022

Ambassador: BiH Media Invent Allegations on Croatia Pushing for Polls' Postponement

ZAGREB, 26 March 2022 - Croatian Ambassador to Bosnia and Herzegovina Ivan Sabolić on Friday denied allegations by some local media outlets about Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković having lobbied during the European Council's meeting for the deferment of Bosnia's general elections.

The allegations that Plenković advocated the postponement of the elections, which are expected to be held in October, and that the European Council dismissed that possibility were first presented by the Klix news portal, and after that some other local media outlets disseminated them.

Bosnian presidency member Željko Komšić immediately joined the comments that this failed attempt by Croatia's officials to defer the polls is an important and clear message to Bosnia and Herzegovina's authorities.

This prompted Ambassador Sabolić to issue a statement in which he denied the invented allegations.

The story about the refusal of the alleged Croatian proposal is made up with the obvious aim of downplaying the recognised and well-accepted constructive efforts of PM Plenković and the Croatian government to speed up a political agreement on the limited constitutional reform and the reform of the electoral law of Bosnia and Herzegovina, said the diplomat.

Sabolić recalled the Strategic Compass, adopted by the EU, fully recognised Bosnia and Herzegovina's constitutional architecture and that at Croatia's initiative, the EU reiterated its readiness to make additional engagement in a bid to help local politician to reach agreement on Bosnia's new electoral law.

The European Council, which held a two-day summit meeting in Brussels, also discussed "the prolonged political crisis in Bosnia and Herzegovina," read the Council's conclusions.

The European Union, which "reiterates its commitment to the European perspective of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Western Balkans," calls on leaders in Bosnia and Herzegovina "to demonstrate a strong commitment to finalise swiftly the constitutional and electoral reform, vital for stability and full functionality of the country, as well as to support all other priority reforms set out in the Commission’s Opinion to obtain a candidate status."

"The European Union stands ready to continue its high-level engagement in this regard," the European Council says in its conclusions.

As for the Strategic Compass, the document reads that it is "of particular interest to support the sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity of Bosnia and Herzegovina, based on the principles of equality and non-discrimination of all citizens and constituent peoples as enshrined in the Bosnia and Herzegovina constitution."

For more, check out our politics section.


Saturday, 19 February 2022

Bosnia-Herzegovina Croat Umbrella Association Convening in Mostar

ZAGREB, 19 Feb 2022 -The Croatian National Assembly of Bosnia and Herzegovina (HNS BiH)  started an extraordinary convention in Mostar on Saturday to draw up a document calling for the continuation of electoral reforms and warning that conditions have not been met for an election this autumn.

In a statement to the media prior to the convention, HNS BiH leader Dragan Čović said that the aim for Croat parties to gather was to "ensure complete constitutional equality of the Croat people with the other two constituent peoples in BiH."

"We want to make sure that Croats can elect legitimate political representatives at all levels of government in BiH," said Čović.

Asked whether HNS BiH would insist on the establishment of a third entity if the election law is not amended, Čović said that he did not wish to comment on speculation.

"Our message will be a sign of unity by representatives of the Croat people in BiH," he added.

The leader of the HDZ 1990, Ilija Cvitanović, who is also a member of the HNS BiH leadership, said that the conclusions of today's convention would be in line with the country's Constitution.

"With this, we are giving BiH a chance and offering our hand in an effort to define our relations on the basis of equality," underscored Cvitanović.


Friday, 18 February 2022

Plenković: It Would Be Better if BiH Polls Were Postponed Than Held Under Present Law

ZAGREB, 18 Feb 2022 - It would be better if elections in Bosnia and Herzegovina were postponed than held under the present election law because nothing good will come of it and the country will continue to function poorly, Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said in Brussels on Friday. 

"Parliamentary elections should not be held in October this year as scheduled without changing the election law," Plenković said.

Croatia's position on the matter is contrary to the document prepared by the European External Action Service for a discussion on Bosnia and Herzegovina due to be held at a meeting of EU foreign ministers on Monday.

The document says that negotiations should continue in order to reach an agreement on the constitutional and electoral reform in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and that elections should be held as scheduled regardless of the outcome of the talks.

"The Croatian position is very clear - it's better to give more time for negotiations and postpone the elections if necessary than carry on under the present system because that would be bad for Bosnia and Herzegovina and disastrous for the Croats in Bosnia and Herzegovina," the prime minister said.

"If the present system remains in place, we know in advance what will happen. We do not want electoral engineering to happen again," he added.

Plenković called on the Bosnian Croat and Bosniak parties to focus constructively on the electoral reform so that the Croats would get guarantees that they would be able to choose their representatives in the state presidency and upper house of parliament. He said that Croatia, as a friend and ally, would do all in its power to improve mutual relations and help Bosnia and Herzegovina on its EU path.

Plenković said that an agreement on the electoral and constitutional reform would be beneficial for the functioning of the country, its territorial integrity, mutual respect, and for everyone in Bosnia and Herzegovina to feel good.

Explaining why some of the representatives of the international community, including the EU, had different views about Bosnia and Herzegovina from Croatia's, he cited the lack of understanding of the complexity of the internal structure of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the need to simplify it, which he said would not lead to anything good.

Plenković said that those who did not know the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina well enough were focusing on three points, the first being a cease-fire agreement that later became the Dayton peace agreement, which became the country's constitution. The second point is the ruling by the European Court of Human Rights in the Sejdić-Finci case and other cases which called for an end to discrimination against three percent of citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina who are not members of any of the three constituent peoples, as 97 percent of citizens identify themselves as Bosniaks, Serbs or Croats. The third point is present efforts to simplify the whole situation.

"When someone who is not from Bosnia and Herzegovina or neighboring countries comes and wants to see how the country is functioning, they see a structure they have not seen anywhere else. They realize that there is one state, two entities, 10 cantons in one of the entities, houses of peoples, and so on. And then the logic of simplification comes in, but in that simplification, you cannot sideline the rights of one of the constituent peoples who voted for Bosnia and Herzegovina's independence in 1992," Plenković said.

He said that the Venice Commission had favorably assessed the Croat proposal to amend the constitution, under which in elections for the state presidency one representative of the Croats and other ethnic groups and one representative of the Bosniaks and other ethnic groups would be elected from the Bosniak-Croat Federation entity and one representative of the Serbs and other ethnic groups from the Serb entity of Republika Srpska.

"That would resolve everything. The constituent peoples would be retained, the others would be included and no one would be discriminated against, and everyone would be allowed to stand as a candidate," Plenković said.

For more, check out our politics section.

Tuesday, 15 February 2022

Croatian and Bosnian Bishops Call for Equal Status of BiH Croats

ZAGREB, 15 Feb 2022 - Croatian and Bosnian bishops met on Tuesday in Mostar to warn that Croats in Bosnia and Herzegovina are outvoted and that they should be equal to the other two main ethnic groups, with Croatian Bishops' Conference (HBK) head Želimir Puljić voicing satisfaction with Croatia's improved care for them.

"Unfair laws enable the outvoting of the less numerous ones by the majority, with the Croats suffering most frequently,"  Sarajevo Archbishop Tomo Vukšić said at the meeting.

He added that the Church is constantly reminding the BiH authorities that they need to respect the rights of every man and the collective rights of every ethnic group. He called for "changing unfair legal solutions and adopting and implementing just laws." Addressing a press conference in Mostar, Archbishop Vukšić explained that as an "individual from the rank of Croats," he expected equal rights for all ethnic groups.

Zadar's Archbishop and HBK president Puljić said that he understands the frustrations of Croats in BiH, and that he is "happy to feel that Croatia is caring for its people in BiH."

"Seeing that it is a signatory to the Dayton Accord, Croatia has an obligation to care for the Croat people and in doing so, it cares about the entire country, which has been blocked for a long time," Puljić underscored. He said that he hoped BiH would soon "see the prospect of European Union membership," and that its EU membership bid was strongly supported by Croatia.

"I hope that Croatia will help BiH, notably Croats, to join the community of peoples as soon as possible," he added.

Saturday, 29 January 2022

Pope Sends Cardinal Puljić Into Retirement, Vukšić New Sarajevo Archbishop

ZAGREB, 29 Jan 2022 - Pope Francis on Saturday decided on the retirement of Cardinal Vinko Puljić, the Archbishop of Sarajevo, who would be succeeded by the current coadjutor archbishop, Tomo Vukšić, the Vatican reported.

In September 2020, Cardinal Puljić offered his resignation when he turned 75. He has been at the helm of the Archdiocese of Sarajevo since 6 January 1991, and became a cardinal in 1994. He is the first Catholic dignitary in Bosnia and Herzegovina to be declared a cardinal.

Vukšić, born in the village of Studenci in Herzegovina in 1954, became the coadjutor archbishop in Sarajevo two years ago.

He was ordained the first military ordinary in Bosnia and Herzegovina at a ceremony held in Mostar's cathedral in April 2011. He is a professor at the Catholic Faculty of Theology in Sarajevo, and a lecturer at at the postgraduate studies at the Catholic Faculty of Theology, University of Zagreb.

Sunday, 19 December 2021

BiH Official: No Information on Security Threats to Croatian President

ZAGREB, 19 Dec, 2021 - The police and security services in Bosnia and Herzegovina have said they did not receive any information of a threat to the security of Croatian President Zoran Milanović, who, according to a statement from his office, on Sunday cancelled his visit to central Bosnia and Herzegovina for security reasons.  

The head of the BiH Directorate for the Coordination of Police Agencies, Mirsad Vilić, told the Bosnia and Herzegovina BHRT public broadcaster on Sunday that they had worked for days with police agencies from Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia that were involved in the organisation of the Croatian president's visit to central Bosnia.

"Our services did not have information that would indicate a threat to Zoran Milanović's security during his visit to Bosnia and Herzegovina," Vilić said.

The body headed by Vilić coordinates the work of a number of police agencies and its personnel is most directly involved in the protection of VIPs.

The spokesman for the Ministry of the Interior of Central Bosnia Canton, Hasan Hodžić, has told the local media that the security situation in that canton is satisfactory.

The visit by President Milanović to Bosnia and Herzegovina, set for Sunday, has been cancelled due to security reasons, the Office of the President said earlier in the day.

The Croatian president was to have visited Travnik, central BiH, on Sunday morning to attend an event commemorating the 28th anniversary of a humanitarian convoy from Croatia which in 1993 visited the Croat enclaves of central Bosnia and Herzegovina that had been under siege by Bosniak forces for months.

For more on politics, follow TCN's dedicated page.

For more about Croatia, CLICK HERE.

Sunday, 19 December 2021

Croatian President’s Visit to BiH Cancelled for Security Reasons

ZAGREB, 19 Dec, 2021 - The visit by Croatian President Zoran Milanović to Bosnia and Herzegovina set for Sunday has been cancelled due to security reasons, the Office of the President has said.

President Milanović was to have travelled to Bosnia and Herzegovina to attend an event marking the 28th anniversary of the humanitarian convoy "White Road for Nova Bila and Bosna Srebrena".

The decision to cancel the visit was made on the basis of a security assessment by the competent institutions of the Republic of Croatia, the Office of the President said in a statement today, without disclosing other details.

"President Milanović regrets that he will not attend the commemoration of the event, important for the Croats of the Lašva River valley, and expresses his strong support and gratitude to the organisers for preserving the memory of the humanitarian convoy 'White Road for Nova Bila and Bosna Srebrena' alive," the statement said. 

For more on politics, follow TCN's dedicated page.

For more about Croatia, CLICK HERE.

Tuesday, 24 August 2021

Bosnian Prosecutors Opposed to Former Dinamo Coach Zoran Mamić's Extradition

ZAGREB, 24 Aug, 2021 - Prosecutorial authorities in Bosnia and Herzegovina and former football coach Zoran Mamić's attorneys said  on Tuesday that they were opposed to his extradition to Croatia, claiming that the legal requirements for his extradition had not been met.

Mamić's attorney Zdravko Rajić and Davor Martinović presented their arguments why Mamić should not be handed over to Croatia.

Croatia's judiciary has requested Mamić's extradition on three grounds: to conduct his retrial based on a Supreme Court ruling quashing a part of the relevant verdict handed down by Osijek County Court ruling, to get him serve a sentence of four years and eight months based on a final ruling; and for the purpose of an investigation into the bribing of three Osijek judges who were in charge of the cases against Zoran Mamić and his brother, former football mogul Zdravko Mamić.

Mamić's attorneys claimed that these were no grounds for extradition.

His attorneys claim that the entire court proceedings against Mamić in Osijek are deeply contaminated because the judges in the proceedings are currently being investigated for graft.

Martinović claimed further that the decision for the imprisonment of the Mamić brothers was still not final because they had not yet submitted an appeal against that decision.

On 12 August the Bosnian court deliberated a separate extradition request for Zdravko Mamić, however, a decision has not been delivered yet.

The prosecutorial authorities in Sarajevo were opposed to the extradition, similarly to previous cases.

For more about politics in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

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