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.

Thursday, 27 October 2022

AWFT: BiH Signs Agreements - Cross Sector Collaboration for Sustainability

October 27, 2022, Nimes, France - The A World for Travel Forum was opened this morning with welcomes from the representatives of the partner organisations, the Occitanie region, agencies, as well as Jamaica's Minister of Tourism. The event of the morning was the signing of agreements between the Ministry of Environment and Tourism (notice how environment takes the first place) of Bosnia and Herzegovina and their partners, all on a mission to develop tourism in Bosnia and Herzegovina while focusing on sustainability. Tourism will not be an accident but a planned collaborative effort, with environment in the focus, built on the foundations of communication and partnerships between the governmental organisations and external partners. Panels of the country's representatives and interviews will follow this afternoon, but their opening did make us wonder if Croatia can still learn.


The representatives from the Global Travel and Tourism Resilience Council, Intrepid Travel, The Travel Corporation and USAID’s Developing Sustainable Tourism in Bosnia and Herzegovina (Turizam) project are signing the culmination and launch of their partnership which was born to facilitate the sustainable tourism development of Bosnia Herzegovina. The project is built on a platform of collaboration starting with the spurring of sustainable community-based tourism experiences to drive and answer increased market  demand for unique experiences. The international networks of these partners will jointly work on transforming Bosnia and Herzegovina’s world-class tourism potential into a globally recognized example of sustainable tourism development. Two agreements are being signed by USAID Turizam Chief of Party Ibrahim Osta, Intrepid EMEA Managing Director Zina Bencheikh, The Travel Corporation Global Sustainability Manager Nadine Pinto and the CEO of Jacobs Media Group/The Global Travel and Tourism Resilience Council, Duncan Horton.

“We could not be prouder of the work our Resilience Council has done this year, particularly with such a positive story coming forward to share with other destinations who may be looking at repositioning sustainably,” stated Mr. Horton in a recent interview with Travel Weekly.

“Developing sustainable tourism in new destinations is a key focus for us at Intrepid and we are delighted to be working with USAID, Project Turizam and the Global Travel and Tourism Resilience Council on this project. Partnerships like these are essential as we move toward a more sustainable future for our industry,” said Zina Bencheikh, Managing Director, INTREPID Travel, EMEA.  She continued,” We’re grateful to play a part in making this beautiful destination more accessible in a way that respects the history of the country, leaves a light footprint and respects and supports local communities."

The partnerships are building upon a strong foundation which includes community engagement, toolkits and consistent communication on the value of collaboration in driving sustainability.  The destination benefiting from these projects, Bosnia and Herzegovina has joined the AWFT22, as they did last year in Evora to share more in depth various aspects of the project with this year’s attendees.  The  announcement at AWFT 22 includes the participation of Deputy Minister of Tourism and Environment of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina Sabina Sahman-Salihbegovic, Secretary General of the Republika Srpska Chamber of Commerce Dragana Kokot, Deputy Director of the USAID/BiH Economic Growth Office Dr. Erol Mujanovic and USAID Turizam Chief of Party Ibrahim Osta.

Additionally, USAID Turizam Tourism Product Development Team Leader Fedja Begovic will participate in the Case Study Agriculture and the Food Industry’s Relationship with Travel, Sabina Sahman-Salihbegovic is one of the speakers at the panel Community Involvement vs. Engagement – Has it Been defined? Are the Benefits Reaching Local Communities?, Dragana Kokot will be part of the panel How to Bring Talent Permanently to the Industry?. Ibrahim Osta will lead one of the headliner sessions titled Billions Available, a session with panelists such as BpiFrance, Certares, ICF and Roland Berger which represent investment, finance and consulting global powerhouses with billions of euros in annual investments in the tourism, hospitality, aviation and infrastructure spheres. The objective of this session is to explore the most optimal approach to expand access to capital for large-scale multi-billion dollar investments and to identify challenges and solutions to smaller borrowing needs of tourism enterprises. In addition to his participation in the opening session dealing with international partnerships, Erol Mujanović will participate in the conference’s Final Roundtable slated to determine the event’s output.

"Tourism is the country's strategic sector, accounting for around 11% of total employment and one of the key generators of exports and foreign exchange. And perhaps the best embodiment of the concept of partnership is how our USAID Developing Sustainable Tourism in Bosnia and Herzegovina project is being implemented. Our delegation here in Nimes consists of the Ministry of Environment and Tourism representing government, the Chamber of Commerce representing the local private sector, two international trade partners, examples of our global partnerships, and our project leadership that works with local communities, entrepreneurs, and youth," noted Erol Mujanović, USAID/BiH Economic Growth Office Deputy Director.

USAID Turizam is a five-year project that aims to fuel broad-based tourism-driven economic growth and promote social harmony by capitalizing on Bosnia and Herzegovina’s rich cultural heritage and distinctive nature. The project aims to set the tourism industry on a robust growth trajectory toward a sustainable tourism economy with increased employment and business expansion. With the aim of generating arrivals, increasing tourism spending by international travelers in Bosnia and Herzegovina, expanding retail options for the country’s rural producers and spreading economic opportunities into secondary destinations, USAID Turizam is establishing partnerships with the following companies and organizations:

  • Global Travel & Tourism Resilience Council’s key focus is to bring together the public and private sectors to facilitate collaboration and sustainability in the development of tourism strategies. Similarly, broad dissemination of collaborative efforts towards sustainability through tourism dispersion, cultural product development, experiential opportunities, local community inclusion, regional coalitions and financial parity sets a path for others to follow.
  • The Travel Corporation (TTC) is a leading operator of 40 award-winning, sustainable brands, offering unique and industry-leading service that puts its guests at the heart of everything the brand does. TTC also has an extensive global distribution & marketing network to support the inward flow of business to support activities included in TTC tours.
  • Intrepid Travel is a leading operator of Sustainable Experience Rich travel with significant expertise in developing experiential activities in communities and supporting various stakeholders to prepare to manage, operate and maintain their business as a supplier. Intrepid also has an extensive global distribution & marketing network to support the inward flow of business and support activities included in Intrepid tours.

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

Saturday, 23 July 2022

HNS Bosnia and Herzegovina Calls on High Rep to Impose Election Law Changes, Prevent Break-Up

ZAGREB, 23 July 2022 - The HNS Bosnia and Herzegovina and HDZ Bosnia and Herzegovina group in the Federation entity's parliament have called on the High Representative and the international community to reject pro-Bosniak pressures, impose electoral law amendments, and prevent the Federation from becoming a Bosniak state and Bosnia and Herzegovina from breaking up.

We call on the international administration in Bosnia and Herzegovina not to give in to pressures and to persevere in seeking solutions that will fully stabilise Bosnia and Herzegovina as a country of three constituent peoples and all its citizens, on Bosnia and Herzegovinas Euro-Atlantic journey, and in building a country which young people won't leave, the group of Croat parties in the Federation parliament's House of Peoples said in a statement on Saturday.

It was reported earlier this week that the international community's High Representative to Bosnia and Herzegovina, Christian Schmidt, plans to amend the electoral law and introduce a three-percent census to prevent the abuse of the election of delegates to the Federation parliament's upper house.

Since then, the pro-Bosniak parties and the public have been strongly campaigning against Schmidt. The SDP Bosnia and Herzegovina today called his move racist, while Bosnia and Herzegovina Presidency member Željko Komšić said it had anti-Islamic motives.

Introducing a three-percent threshold would prevent Bosniaks in some of the Federation's ten cantons who declared themselves as Croats from being elected to the Croat group in the upper house anymore. The group is key to the election of the executive authority in the Croat-Bosniak entity.

For the October general elections, Bosniak parties have announced the election of a number of Croat delegates in order to oust from the government the leading Croat parties for which most Croats in Bosnia and Herzegovina vote.

The HNS Bosnia and Herzegovina parliamentary group, which gathers Croat political parties, dismissed the pressures and campaign against Schmidt, saying that all Bosniak parties have revealed their Bosniak nationalism.

According to the Croat parties, the Bosniaks' attempt to take over control in the Federation would lead to the cancellation of the Washington and Dayton agreements, which they say might cause a new crisis and Bosnia and Herzegovina's break-up.

They say that Schmidt is trying to impose a solution that the Bosniak parties obstructed during talks on electoral reform with the mediation of the US and the EU earlier this year.

"The Bosniak side, on the other hand, advocates a status quo with the goal of transforming the Federation into a Bosniak statelet and the Croats into a political minority," the statement said.

The constituency of the peoples, as stipulated by the Constitution, and legitimate political representation, as established by the Constitutional Court in the Ljubić ruling, must be achieved in the election process, it added.

Friday, 8 July 2022

Conference on Cross-Border Cooperation Between Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina Held in Osijek

ZAGREB, 8 July 2022 - A Bosnia and Herzegovina-Croatia cross-border conference was held on Friday in Osijek on how to enhance the regional cooperation of Croats from Bosnia and Herzegovina with Croatia.

This is a project aimed at improving regional cooperation and exchange of experiences in the implementation of cross-border projects, which the Development Agency in Žepče, central Bosnia, is implementing in partnership with the County Development Agency of Osijek-Baranja County and 11 local self-governments in Bosnia and Herzegovina areas predominantly populated by Croats.

The director of the Žepče Development Agency, Branka Janko, underscored that the agency has been operating since 2010, and so far they have implemented three cross-border projects, which are mainly related to the competitiveness of the economy and the development of rural areas.

Every new acquaintance with regional agencies in Croatia is useful to us, and our goal, considering that it is mostly about rural areas, is to raise them to a higher level of development using EU funds, which will be opened for Bosnia and Herzegovina, said Janko, adding that they are interested in economy, tourism and renewable energy sources.

Žepče Municipality realised long ago that municipal budgets were not sufficient for faster development, said Mayor Mato Zovko and added that tit was a success when, as a small municipality, they managed to implement the third cross-border cooperation project - Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro. These projects range from €600,000 to 1 million and 75% is financed by the EU.

We have strengthened the Development Agency so much and can hardly wait for Bosnia and Herzegovina to receive EU candidate status. With our example, we have shown other municipalities what it's like to be ready for the future, said Zovko.

Osijek-Baranja Deputy County Prefect Josip Miletić, spoke about the exceptional importance of cross-border cooperation with Bosnia and Herzegovina, stating that the county had previously recognised the needs of Croats outside of Croatia directly with the means of the county.

With our example and logistics, we will help them to submit quality projects and receive these funds, and we will continue to provide support to Croats regardless of cross-border cooperation, said Miletić.

The director of the Osijek-Baranja County Development Agency, Denis Ćosić, announced that experts from Croatian agencies will go to BiH to train their employees, who will work on project proposals and their implementation.

Our goal is to create not only a knowledge base, but also to present project proposals that could be submitted through other tenders, through the Ministry of Regional Development and the Central State Office for Croats Abroad, he said.

Thursday, 23 June 2022

Milanović Seeks EU Membership Candidate Status For Bosnia And Herzegovina

ZAGREB, 23 June 2022- Croatian President Zoran Milanović on Thursday again urged the European Union to grant membership candidate status to Bosnia and Herzegovina.

EU leaders are meeting in Brussels on Thursday for a two-day summit to decide on the membership candidate status for Ukraine and Moldova, for which there is widespread support.

Milanović on Thursday requested the same status for Bosnia and Herzegovina. He has Slovenian President Borut Pahor's strong support for this, and Austria has also joined the initiative.

"We have heard from all member states that Ukraine will get the candidate status, which is fine, but Ukraine, just like Moldova, has some huge problems," Milanović said.

"This is an opportunity to grant Bosnia and Herzegovina the candidate status, as an act of confidence and hope," the Croatian president said, adding that he could not see how anyone could be against it.

For more, check out our politics section.

Saturday, 18 June 2022

Cavusoglu in Favour of Meeting of Croatia, Turkey, Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina Leaders

ZAGREB, 18 June 2022 - Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said in Sarajevo on Saturday that Ankara would not allow new tension in Bosnia and Herzegovina, advocating a meeting of leaders of Croatia, Turkey, Serbia, and Bosnia and Herzegovina to help preserve the country's stability.

For the sake of Bosnia and Herzegovina's stability and development we are willing to support and participate in any bilateral and multilateral political, economic and other initiatives that are acceptable to all sides, and we constantly encourage them in that sense, the Turkish official said at a news conference he held together with his BiH counterpart Bisera Turković.

The proposal to hold a quadrilateral meeting was put forward earlier this week by the Serb member of the Bosnia and Herzegovina Presidency, Milorad Dodik, during a visit to Ankara.

Bosnia and Herzegovina is crucial to regional stability and therefore we cannot allow new tension in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Cavusoglu said, noting that everyone should act responsibly.

Dodik has proposed that the stabilisation of the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina should be discussed by the presidents of Turkey, Croatia and Serbia, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Zoran Milanović and Aleksandar Vučić respectively, as well as by representatives of Bosnia and Herzegovina Serbs, Croats and Bosniaks.

Turkey will support any format of talks and agreement if all political stakeholders in your country agree on it, Cavusoglu said.

He recalled that during his visit to Zagreb on Friday, he had made it very clear that Ankara would support all activities aimed at preserving Bosnia and Herzegovina's integrity.

Turkey respects the fact that Dodik is the Serb member of the Bosnia and Herzegovina Presidency, he said when asked about his country's position on Dodik.

Whether you love him or not, Milorad Dodik is a member of the Bosnia and Herzegovina Presidency, Cavusoglu said.

At meetings with Dodik, Turkey makes its positions on Republika Srpska's moves regarding Bosnia and Herzegovina's political and territorial integrity very clear, Cavusoglu said in an evident allusion to announcements by the Serb entity of the transfer of powers from the state to the entity level, which is seen as an attempt at secessionism.

Cavusoglu on Saturday held talks with his Bosnia and Herzegovina counterpart Bisera Turković, and the two ministers signed two agreements.

Turkey supports Bosnia and Herzegovina's integration with NATO and the EU, Turković stressed.

Cavusoglu also held separate meetings with Bosnia and Herzegovina Presidency members Željko Komšić and Šefik Džaferović, and on Friday evening he met with the international community's High Representative in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Christian Schmidt, and the head of the country's Islamic community, Rais Husein Kavazović. He also visited the grave of the Bosniak wartime leader and Bosnia and Herzegovina's first president, Alija Izetbegović.

Saturday, 7 May 2022

New Round of Talks on Bosnia Electoral Reform in 10 days, Says Čović

ZAGREB, 7 May 2022 - Croatian National Assembly of Bosnia and Herzegovina (HNS BiH) president Dragan Čović said on Saturday a new round of talks on electoral reform in BiH would be held in ten days as a result of Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković's initiative to avert a crisis after the next election in BiH.

Speaking to the press in Mostar, Čović said he spoke with European representatives last night to prepare the new round of electoral reform talks, even though a general election has already been called for October and Bosniak leader Bakir Izetbegović has dismissed the possibility of the initiative succeeding.

Čović said the new round was aimed at once again attempting to change the election law so that "elections can have their point and true democracy."

He said the new round was a result of Plenković's talks this week with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, Vice President Maroš Šefčovič, and Commissioners Johannes Hahn and Paolo Gentiloni, among others.

Plenković has underlined that it is necessary to restore trust between between Bosniaks and Croats in the Federation entity of BiH because without it, it would be difficult to ensure the functioning of the country.

Čović said he expected Bosniak politicians to resist the initiative because they wanted control of the Federation, adding that no one in BiH needed that.

Asked about the HNS BiH's steps for a territorial reorganisation of BiH, he said federalisation would build a European BiH and that they would not give up on that.

He welcomed the efforts by Plenković and Croatian President Zoran Milanović aimed at achieving equality for Croats in BiH and stopping the three-and-a-half-times more numerous Bosniaks from outvoting them in elections.

For more, check out our politics section.

Saturday, 7 May 2022

Plenković: Trust Between Bosniaks and Croats in Federation Needs To Be Restored

ZAGREB, 7 May 2022 - Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said on Friday it was necessary to restore the trust between Bosniaks and Croats in the Federation entity of Bosnia and Herzegovina because without it, it would be difficult to ensure the functioning of the country which is choosing a new parliament in October in accordance with the old law.

The issue of Croats in Bosnia and Herzegovina is important to Croatia and it is regrettable that the Bosniak and Croat parties have failed to reach an agreement on the electoral law reform ahead of the 2 October general election despite US and EU mediation, Plenković said at a working dinner held as part of the Global Europe Seminar in Salzburg on Friday.

In the autumn, "institutions will again be elected according to the old law and one constitutional people will not have its legitimate representatives," the prime minister said and added: "That's why we will try to restore the trust between Bosniaks and Croats in the Federation because it will be difficult for the country to function without it."

Earlier this week, the Central Election Commission of Bosnia and Herzegovina called the general election for 2 October even though the election law was not amended to prevent the more numerous Bosniaks from outvoting the Croats and to ensure the election of legitimate representatives of the Croats.

War in Ukraine

Speaking of the war in Ukraine, Plenković said that Russia had largely underestimated Ukraine's resistance, adding that Ukraine should be assisted in different areas and its ambition to get a special status in the EU should be supported.

"Russia has largely underestimated Ukraine, the courage of its people, the heroism of its soldiers and their determination to to fight back," the PM said. "We should support Ukraine's ambition to get a special status in the EU, but we should also support the EU membership ambitions of other countries."

He went on to say that the COVID-19 pandemic and the Ukraine conflict have diverted attention from other global crises such as the nuclear threat from North Korea, negotiations with Iran, tensions in the South China Sea, US-China relations, climate change and illegal migration. "Unfortunately, none of these have disappeared."

Plenković said that the situation in the Western Balkans should be monitored closely. "We must not let those issues be overshadowed because they, too, require action."

Noting that "every crisis is, at the same time, an opportunity," the prime minister praised the EU for its COVID-19 response, saying that it was a sign of European solidarity that showed the Union's purpose and mission.

Plenković estimated that it was too early to say whether the EU would manage to resolve the energy crisis in the same way, by showing solidarity, expressing hope that it would.

He mentioned the strategic decision to phase out the EU's dependence on Russian energy sources by taking into account the specific circumstances of each country and creating alternative supply routes and networks. In this context, he emphasised the importance of the LNG terminal on the Croatian island of Krk.

For more, check out our politics section.

Wednesday, 4 May 2022

Bosnia and Herzegovina General Election Called For 2 October

ZAGREB, 4 May 2022 - A general election will be held in Bosnia and Herzegovina on 2 October, the Central Electoral Commission (SIP) decided on Wednesday.

"The election will be held on Sunday 2 October and the funds for the election have to be secured within 15 days of calling the election," SIP president Suad Arnautović said after the decision on the election was adopted.

Around €6 million has to be secured to conduct the election, which is to be decided by the Council of Ministers. The decision is uncertain at this point because the 2022 budget has not been adopted yet.

Only one of the two Croat members of the electoral commission voted against calling the election.

"There are no legal provisions or conditions at the moment to hold a free and democratic election in line with the Constitution," Vlado Rogić said. He claimed that a permanent election crisis has existed in BiH for years.

Rogić said that it is clear to everyone that a ruling by the European Court for Human Rights and the BiH Constitutional Court in the Ljubić case have not been implemented, which practically repealed the part of the election law that defines the way in which the House of Peoples in the Bosniak-Croat Federation entity is formed.

"In this case, there is no legal void and it cannot be resolved in any other way except to adopt new legislative provisions. We know that the Constitutional Court has ordered that, but those provisions have still not been adopted and BiH is getting into a situation where there are no provisions on key issues such as the election of certain bodies," Rogić said.

SIP member Vanja Bjelica Prutina claimed that Rogić's interpretation of legal void is unfounded and that there is no basis to defer the election because it is defined by the existing election law.

"I'm personally disappointed because parliament has failed to implement the rulings for years and that is truly defeating. However, that cannot affect the obligation to call an election," Bjelica Prutina said.

Also adopted were implementing acts and time limits, as well as a decision to conclude the electoral roll as it was on 3 May.

BiH citizens will vote for three members of the country's presidency, the House of Representatives of the BiH Parliament and of the Federation entity parliament, the National Assembly of the Republika Srpska entity and the president and vice president of that entity.

Cantonal councils in the Federation entity are elected directly. Cantonal councillors will then be delegated to form the new House of Peoples in the Federation entity, who in turn will elect delegates to the House of Peoples in the state parliament. A new speaker and two deputy speakers of the Federation parliament are elected indirectly.

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

Tuesday, 26 April 2022

Milanović: Finland, Sweden Can't Join NATO Before Bosnia Election Law Changed

ZAGREB, 26 April 2022 - Croatian President Zoran Milanović said on Tuesday that Finland and Sweden could not join NATO before the election law in Bosnia and Herzegovina was changed.

The Croatian parliament "must not ratify anyone's accession to NATO" until that law is changed, he told the press. The accession of Finland and Sweden can be discussed, but it is "a very dangerous adventure," he added.

In the wake of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, next month the two countries will state their wish to join NATO, their media reported yesterday.

Milanović said that formally he could not decide on his own on their accession to NATO but called it "very dangerous charlatanism."

"As far as I'm concerned, let them join NATO... but until the issue of the election law in BiH is solved, until the Americans, the English, the Germans, if they can and want to, force (Bosniak officials) to change the election law in the next six months and give Croats their fundamental rights, the Sabor must not ratify anyone's accession to NATO."

Milanović said "we are in a terrible situation" because Bulgaria and Romania cannot join Schengen, North Macedonia and Albania cannot begin EU accession negotiations and Kosovo has not been recognised, while Finland "can join NATO overnight."

We are only asking that Finland and Sweden "tell the Americans to solve this," he said. "For me, that's a vital national interest of the Croatian state, nation and people, that BiH be a functioning state."

Milanović said he raised this issue with his French and German counterparts, but that Prime Minister Andrej Plenković, due to his function, had a lot more room for that. "But he is neglecting that consciously and cowardly."

Asked if Croats in BiH should boycott general elections in October unless the election law was changed, Milanović said he did not know at the moment. "It seems to me the feeling among Croats in BiH is that they shouldn't boycott so as not to bring into question local government."

Commenting on the victory of manager Robert Golob and his party in Sunday's parliamentary election in Slovenia, he said Slovenia had been "left-liberal" for the past 30 years.

Croatia-Slovenia relations have been "really good" in the past two years, he said, adding that this was due also to Prime Minister Janeza Janša, who was defeated in Sunday's vote.

"We have seen that Croatia-Slovenia relations have been more stable when Janša was in power, but they were not hostile when the left was in power either."

Tanja Fajon, whom Slovenian media say might be the new foreign minister, was in the past against Croatia's accession to Schengen.

"If they want to prevent Croatia's Schengen entry, okay. Croatia won't go down because of that. They will cause damage to themselves," said Milanović.

He said Croatia was ready for Schengen already in 2015, but added that it was "a political decision and torture." He also criticised the fact that Bulgaria and Romania have not yet entered Schengen, despite being in the EU since 2007.

"Slovenia will, if it looks after its interests, ask that Croatia join Schengen. If not, if will have to hire another 20,000 police officers," said Milanović, who is meeting with Slovenian President Borut Pahor later today.

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

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