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.

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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. 

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Monday, 13 December 2021

Catholic and Islamic Dignitaries Thank Croatian PM for Help to BiH

ZAGREB, 13 Dec 2021 - The Catholic Archbishop of Sarajevo, Vinko Puljić, and the Grand Mufti of Bosnia's Islamic community, Husein Kavazović, thanked on Monday Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković for the help his government had provided to Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The Croatian prime minister, who is on an official visit to Bosnia and Herzegovina, after a meeting with the country's executive and legislative authorities' officials, also met separately, behind closed doors, with the leaders of three major religious communities, including Cardinal Puljić, Reis Kavazović and the Bosnian prelate of the Serbian Orthodox Church, Hrizostom Jević.

The Archdiocese of Sarajevo said in a press release that Cardinal Puljić informed Plenković and the ministers accompanying him of the state of affairs in the Catholic Church in Bosnia and Herzegovina and underscored that after the last war, it was necessary to rebuild about 60 churches destroyed during the 1992-1995 the war. Croatia has significantly helped in the reconstruction and in many other projects.

Cardinal Puljić said that the help was valuable, and Plenković promised the continuation of support to the Archdiocese through the State Office for Croats Abroad.

He thanked the Cardinal for his reassuring messages so far, underscoring that his visit to Bosnia and Herzegovina also aimed at alleviating tensions in that country. Plenković confirmed that as a member of the European Union and of NATO, Croatia was prepared to provide clear support to Bosnia and Herzegovina.

After the talks between Kavazović and the Croatian prime minister, the Riyaset of the Islamic community in Bosnia and Herzegovina said in a press release Kavazović thanked for the support the Croatian government was providing to Bosnia and Herzegovina, especially in the period of the current political crisis.

Kavazović recalled that the Islamic community in Croatia, led by Aziz Hasanović, who also took part in the meeting in Sarajevo, had a significant role in building good relations between the two countries.

Plenković thanked Mufti Hasanović for everything the Islamic community in Croatia was doing, promising the continuation of cooperation and assistance the country was providing to the Meshihat in Zagreb.

Participants of the talks agreed that the relations between the two countries, as well as the relations between Bosniaks and Croats, had to improve further.

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Monday, 15 November 2021

Croatian Minister Warns of Unitarism, Separatism in Bosnia and Herzegovina

ZAGREB, 15 Nov 2021 - Croatia's Foreign Minister Gordan Grlić Radman warned on Monday that unitarism and separatism in Bosnia and Herzegovina were causing instability and that it was crucial to abide by the principle of equality of the constituent peoples.

"Unitarism and separatism have been growing stronger in Bosnia and Herzegovina, causing instability to increase. The solution is respect for the principle of equality of the constituent peoples. The reform of electoral legislation is a key strategic issue and we need urgent progress on that," the minister said ahead of a meeting of EU ministers of foreign affairs, with Western Balkans being one of the topics on the agenda.

Grlić Radman said that the situation in the Western Balkans was worsening and that divisions were deepening.

"Enlargement policy is the solution, we need a strong political approach, that is the only way to move forward," he added.

He expressed concern about developments in Western Balkan countries, underlining the importance of preserving their territorial integrity and democracy.

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Thursday, 4 November 2021

Milanović Reiterates Idea to Mediate in Bosnia with Vučić and Erdogan

ZAGREB, 4 Nov 2021 - Croatian President Zoran Milanović on Thursday reiterated the idea for representatives of the three constituent peoples in Bosnia and Herzegovina to sit down together with him and the presidents of Serbia and Turkey "because in such a setting a satisfactory solution can be found" to the crisis in that country.

"I would like to see Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić and Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan as some sort of guarantors. There will be misunderstandings, but let's see what can be done for Bosnia and Herzegovina to remain whole," Milanović told the press in Zagreb.

He believes that "only in such a setting can a satisfactory solution be found." 

"Each side, and that means the three ethnic sides, would have someone they trust as well as someone they do not fully trust. I'm not sure how much the Bosniaks trust Vučić, but the Serbs do. That is enough for me," Milanović said.

The president recently called Prime Minister Andrej Plenković to coordinate the policy towards BiH, to which Plenković retorted that Milanović was "a staunch advocate of Željko Komišić whom he supported against the HDZ member," and that now he seems to be "mates with Dodik."

Milanović responded by saying that the prime minister needs to explain why he is making statements in Brussels that "are detrimental to the Croats."

"I am saying we need to maintain a common front, not in discipline but in views. Each one of our disputes in Croatia causes bitterness and nausea in Mostar, Široki Brijeg, and Vitez," said Milanović.

During the EU-Western Balkans summit in October, Plenković said the EU was following Dodik's statements about the functioning of Bosnia and Herzegovina "with caution and disapproval".

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Monday, 1 November 2021

Defence Ministry Says It Prevented Int'l Scandal Involving Battalion in March

ZAGREB, 1 Nov 2021 - The Defence Ministry said on Monday that in March it prevented an international scandal involving the participation of the Honorary and Protection Battalion in a commemoration in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The ministry said in a press release that on 17 March President Zoran Milanović's office informed the military Chief-Of-Staff, Admiral Robert Hranj, that the president's advisor Marijan Mareković would be his envoy at an event marking the 27th anniversary of the exchange of prisoners of war in Bugojno, BiH.

The president's office also made it known that, under the president's decision, members of the Honorary and Protection Battalion would also attend the event, the ministry added.

Under the Defence Act, a decision on platoons and smaller units attending ceremonial activities abroad is made by the defence minister, the ministry said, adding that according to its information, members of the Honorary and Protection Battalion were sent to BiH before the minister made a decision to that effect.

However, the ministry said, it was realized that they would not be able to cross the Croatian border without the minister's decision and an order for official travel abroad, which is within the ministry's remit. 

By such course of action, the president's office "unnecessarily exposed the Croatian Army," the ministry added.

Upon the realization that the request from the president's office could not be carried out without the minister's decision, the ministry said, Hranj wrote to the minister on 18 March to ask that the request from the head of the president's office, to engage members of the Honorary and Protection Battalion abroad, be authorized.

In line with his powers, the ministry said, the minister gave his authorization the same day for the battalion to accompany Mareković to the commemoration in BiH.

The ministry said the battalion's participation in the commemoration was not contentious, but the president's office should have respected the procedure as envisaged by the Defence Act.

"The Ministry of Defence, by adopting the decision, prevented an international scandal," the press release said, adding that the course of action by the president's office was inappropriate and that it should have forwarded the request to the minister.

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Friday, 22 October 2021

PM: Decision Making on Croatia's Schengen Bid Going According to Plan

ZAGREB, 22 Oct (Hina) - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said in Brussels on Friday he expected the decision making process on Croatia's accession to the Schengen area to proceed according to plan.

"I have discussed this matter at all levels, with all governments. I think the momentum is slowly gathering for a decision at the level of the Council of the EU," Plenković told reporters on arrival for the continuation of the two-day EU summit.

Plenković said that ongoing talks during the Slovenian EU presidency and the next French presidency would be "crucial for achieving Croatia's strategic goal - to become a member of the Schengen area."

Among the topics to be discussed at the summit will be protection of the EU's external borders against illegal migration.

Plenković said that also discussed would be several action plans with non-EU countries, including Bosnia and Herzegovina, to help them improve migration management.

He said that during discussion on foreign policy matters on Thursday evening he had drawn attention to the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina, notably to the existing tension and statements by the Serb member of the state presidency, Milorad Dodik, which destabilise the country.

"Croatia supports a single Bosnia and Herzegovina, its independence, sovereignty and good functioning. I also made it clear that the EU should help, together with our partners, first of all the United States, to achieve a timely agreement on electoral legislation so that at next year's elections the Croats, as one of the three constituent peoples, can be legitimately and equally represented in the institutions of Bosnia and Herzegovina," Plenković said.

He said he was pleased with the quality of the discussion on this matter, adding that several leaders had taken part in it.

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Wednesday, 29 September 2021

President Zoran Milanović and Izetbegović Discuss Relationship Between Croatia and Bosnia

ZAGREB, 29 Sept, 2021 - Croatian President Zoran Milanović spoke with the leader of the Democratic Action Party (SDA) of Bosnia andHerzegovina, Bakir Izetbegović, on Tuesday about the relationship between the Bosniaks and Croats, the President's Office said in a press release.

They discussed the relationship between Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, notably the relationship between the Bosniaks and Croats and the need to improve it in accordance with the Dayton agreement, the press release said.

Izetbegović also serves as Chairman of the House of Peoples of the Parliamentary Assembly of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

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Wednesday, 8 September 2021

FM Grlić Radman Discusses Situation in Bosnia With Čović and Zovko

ZAGREB, 8 Sept, 2021 - Croatia's Minister of Foreign and European Affairs, Gordan Grlić Radman, on Wednesday discussed the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina with the leader of the HDZ BiH party, Dragan Čović, and the vice-chair of the European Parliament's Foreign Affairs Committee, Željana Zovko, the ministry said in a statement.

The meeting focused on the reform of Bosnia and Herzegovina's electoral legislation "to ensure the quality and legitimate political representation of the Croats", the steps that need to be taken by Bosnia and Herzegovina on its path towards European Union membership and how Croatia can help it in that regard.

Čović spoke of the current political situation and ethnic relations in his country and challenges to the achievement of legitimate rights for the Croats, while Zovko presented the European Parliament's activities concerning Bosnia and Herzegovina and the rest of southeast Europe.

Grlić Radman reiterated that Bosnia and Herzegovina has the support of Croatia and his ministry in political demands for the legitimate representation of the Croats "so that Bosnia and Herzegovina would be functioning, stable and prosperous and would achieve its Euroatlantic ambitions more easily."

They all agreed that amendments to the election law would contribute to the stability and functioning of Bosnia and Herzegovina and increase trust between the three constituent peoples and all other citizens in the country, the statement said.

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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.

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