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.

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

Wednesday, 29 September 2021

Foreign Minister Grlić Radman Says Bosniak Minority Precious to Croatia

ZAGREB, 29 Sept, 2021 - The Bosniak minority is "a precious value" to Croatia, Foreign and European Affairs Minister Gordan Grlić Radman said in Zagreb on Tuesday at an event marking the 28th Day of Bosniaks in Croatia and wished the community to successfully preserve its identity.

In a multiethnic nation, it is good when everyone feels comfortable and respects each other, the minister said. The Bosniak minority is well-integrated, it is a "precious value" to Croatia, he said.

Following statements by previous speakers that "loyalty" was not an expression that reflected the emotional attitude of Bosniaks because "they love Croatia", he recalled their contribution to the Homeland War.

About 25,000 Bosniaks took part in the Homeland War, and 1,187 laid down their lives for Croatia.

Grlić Radman also talked about Bosnia and Herzegovina, whose territorial integrity Zagreb strongly supports.

"No one has it in their interest for Bosnia and Herzegovina to be a stable and functioning state as much as the Republic of Croatia," he said.

He said that Croatia had achieved its goals of integration with NATO and the European Union and that it wanted the same path for Bosnia and Herzegovina.

He also commented on the dissatisfaction with the violation of equality and constituency of Bosnian Croats.

"Reforms from 2000 onwards and changes to the election law mainly through interventions by the High Representative have enabled Bosniaks to outvote Croats, who don't have a legitimate representative in the three-member presidency. We should strive for changes in the election law that will enable equality and constituency and eliminate any forms of discrimination," he said.

He expressed hope that leaders in Bosnia and Herzegovina would find a solution, and the new High Representative in Bosnia and Herzegovina Christian Schmidt would first and foremost talk and listen, and not impose solutions.

Grlić Radman wished the Bosniaks in Croatia to be successful in preserving their cultural Bosniak identity.

The Day of Bosniaks is observed in memory of the first meeting of the Bosniak Assembly, held on 27 and 27 September 1993, at which Muslims changed their name to Bosniaks and the name Bosnian language was advocated.

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

Wednesday, 22 September 2021

Milanović Says is Also President of BiH Citizens With Croatian Citizenship

ZAGREB, 22 Sept, 2021 - Croatian President Zoran Milanović said in New York on Tuesday that he was also the president of citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina of the Croatian nationality who have Croatian citizenship, and this statement was questioned on Wednesday by some media outlets in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Some media outlets in Bosnia and Herzegovina, such as Oslobođenje daily newspaper or BiH's N1 broadcaster reported today that Milanović had said he was "the president of Croats in BiH".

They left out part of the statement in which Milanović said that Croats in Bosnia and Herzegovina, just like Croats in New York, had Croatian citizenship and the right to vote in the election and that it was "a formal and legal fact that he is also their president".

He stressed that this was with "full respect for the countries" in which they live.

The statement was made in response to a reporter's question asking him to comment on the situation when Željko Komšić, the current chairman of the BiH tripartite Presidency who sits in the presidency as the Croat member, came to the UN General Assembly.

"Komšić came here as one of the Presidency members, I don't know... on whose behalf he's speaking, even if he was the representative of Croats because... I said I was the president of Croatia, the president of Croatian citizens, Croats and, in a way, of those Croats living in Bosnia and Herzegovina," as stipulated by the Constitution, said Milanović.

He added that he had often raised the issue of the voting right of Croatian citizens outside Croatia, in a bid to reduce it to a reasonable level, and his argument for that had been also not to undermine the neighbouring country where the polling stations for Croatian elections were also set up.

Earlier, Milanović also met with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

I have been telling Turkish President Tayyip Erdoğan all this time that there is absolutely no one in Croatia who would talk about secession, which is something we can hear from some other parts of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and that isn't smart, it isn't necessary, Milanović said.

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

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.

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

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.

Tuesday, 3 August 2021

Croatian FM Grlić Radman: High Representative in BiH Remnant of Past

ZAGREB, 3 Aug, 2021 - Croatian Foreign Minister Gordan Grlić Radman said in an interview with the German Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ) daily on Tuesday that the post of the High Representative in Bosnia and Herzegovina(BiH) was a remnant of the past which was also proof of the lack of democracy in that country.

"As a relic of the immediate post-war period, the post of the High Representative is today a manifestation of the lack of democracy in the political life of that country," said Gordan Grlić Radman.

FAZ said that Croatia, which is not only Bosnia and Herzegovina's only EU neighbour but also a signatory to the Dayton Accords, closely watched the arrival of the new High Representative, German politician Christian Schmidt, who took office on Sunday.

"Bosnia and Herzegovina is not a place for experiment. I say that not only as the Croatian foreign minister but as someone who was born in Bosnia and Herzgovina and whose family comes from there," said Grlić Radman, referring to the so-called "Bonn Powers" which allow the High Representative to remove politicians and pass and repeal laws by decree.

Grlić Radman expressed reservations about the recent decision of High Representative Valentin Inzko to pass a law punishing the denial of genocide.

Proof of democratic deficit

"The High Representative has the right to use the Bonn powers but their application represents a democratic deficit which is not in accordance with Bosnia and Herzegovina's European ambitions," Grlić Radman said.

He also said that changing Bosnia and Herzegovina's Constitution through decrees was no solution.

Issue of representative of Croats

Grlić Radman also thinks that centralist tendencies of some Bosniak politicians are not a solution either.

Croatia's foreign minister said that Zagreb had been observing the "open practice" of excluding Croats from the political decision-making process for years.

When electing the members of the tripartite Presidency, a part of Bosniaks choose a candidate who is only seemingly a Croat candidate but in reality supports Bosniak interests, said Grlić Radman, as carried by FAZ.

Reform of election law needed

He said that Croatia had been advocating for years a reform of the election law, which would, for instance, through the reorganisation of electoral units make it impossible for Croats in Bosnia and Herzegovina to be overvoted when electing members of the presidency and the parliament.

According to Grlić Radman, that is a question of Croats electing their own representative and no longer being overvoted, not of creating a third entity, in addition to Republika Srpska and the Federation.

He stressed there was growing support for such an approach in the EU and expressed optimism about Christian Schmidt's term of office.

"We look forward to cooperating with Christian Schmidt and we are certain that together with the EU and the U.S. he will encourage legitimate representatives of the constituent peoples to reach a compromise," Grlić Radman told FAZ.For more about politics in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Tuesday, 13 July 2021

President Zoran Milanović Says Outvoting Croats in BiH Will "Come to an End"

ZAGREB, 13 July, 2021 - President Zoran Milanović on Tuesday said that outvoting Croats in elections for the collective presidency and parliament in Bosnia and Herzegovina will come to an end and that Bosniak politicians are to blame for the "misfortune in BiH".

The Bosniak member of Bosnia and Herzegovina's Presidency, Šefik Džaferović, said on Monday that Croatian pesident  was behaving like "a rude guest in someone else's house." Milanović is on a working visit to BiH and stopped in Vitez and Mostar, but not the capital of Sarajevo. Džaferović insisted that Milanović only came to BiH to cause problems and incidents.

"No, no. They are the cause of political instability, nervousness and misfortune in BiH. They are doing exactly what Haris Silajdžić warned about, 15 years ago when he said 'if you continue like that, you will make the Croats abhor this country that is their homeland'," Milanović told reporters in Livno.

Commenting on Džaferović's statement that he needn't come if he was going to behave like that, Milanović said that he was a guest in BiH to those people who welcomed him." "My hosts are the democratic authorities and the Franciscans," said Milanović.

During the three-day working visit to BiH, Milanović visited the towns mainly populated by Croats:  Vitez, Mostar, Ljubuški, Tomislavgrad and Livno. He visited the local Franciscan monasteries and said that the biggest gratitude for preserving the Croatian heritage went to the local friars.

Milanović said that the biggest problem is the outvoting of Croats and imposing Željko Komšić as the Croat member of the tripartite presidency who was voted in with Bosniak votes as well as attempts to achieve the same thing in the upper house - the House of People's in the country's parliament.

"The seats designated for Croats in the House of Peoples are being taken by people who aren't Croats or are lying that they are and they are elected by another ethnic group. That is the same template as in the presidency. The same story. And that has to come to an end," he underscored.

Asked why then he attended an SDP BiH election rally in 2010 and supported Komšić, Milanović said he was "tricked." That isn't a change in policy but rather a policy of maturing and realising someone's false nature. I haven't changed, but they are despicable," said Milanović.

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

Tuesday, 15 June 2021

President Zoran Milanović: Reference to Dayton Was Opposed by Germany, Italy And Other States

ZAGREB, 15 June, 2021 - President Zoran Milanović said on Tuesday that the reference to the Dayton agreement in NATO's communique adopted on Monday had been opposed by Germany, Italy and some other Western countries, and added that possible changes in Bosnia and Herzegovina must not happen without Croatia and Serbia.

Milanović made the statement in Slovakia, where he participated in the GLOBSEC 2021 Forum and met with Slovakian President Zuzana Čaputová and Polish President Andrzej Duda.

He discussed with them the NATO summit held in Brussels on Monday, at which Croatia, Milanović said, managed to have a reference to the Dayton peace agreement (General Framework Agreement for Peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina) incorporated in the summit's closing declaration only after insisting on it for six days.

"That should not have happened, that should have been resolved a week ago. Somebody is against it, has a problem with the Dayton agreement and wants to dismantle it," Milanović said, adding that at the same time those countries were criticising the Serb BiH Presidency member Milorad Dodik for violating the Dayton agreement.

"Something is not right about that way of thinking," he said.

Milanović noted that a number of countries - Germany, Italy and some other Western countries - had been opposed to mentioning the Dayton peace agreement in the communique.

"Western Europe - and I'm not talking about the leaders, definitely not about Angela Merkel, is acting foolishly, undermining one of the foundations of Bosnia and Herzegovina, which, regardless of how imperfect it may be, protects it against destabilisation," he said.

Criticism of German diplomacy

Milanović went on to say that talks on the communique had not been conducted by the German chancellor but by the German foreign ministry which, he said, was headed by a political camp different from Merkel's and one he felt close to, "namely by people who in their fantasy are prone to making silly experiments."

The current German foreign minister is Heiko Maas, a member of the Social Democrats who are part of the coalition government with Merkel's Christian Democratic Union (CDU).

Some Western European countries advocate a so-called civic model for Bosnia and Herzegovina to replace the concept of three constituent peoples envisaged by the Dayton peace agreement. Commenting on that on Monday, Milanović said that "it sounds very noble but is actually a hoax."

"They should do it back at home. Bosnia and Herzegovina is as it is, we share a long border and we will soon have to guard it for the Schengen area," he said.

Milanović stressed that plans for Bosnia and Herzegovina could not be made "under the radar" and that any changes in the neighbouring country had to involve Croatia and Serbia, co-signatories to the Dayton agreement, adding that he had explained this to his Slovakian and Polish counterparts.

"That is how things are done in diplomacy, as far as I can remember. I used to be a diplomat and I never caused a scandal. Then I entered politics and in politics you have to cause scandals to be heard," he said.

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

Wednesday, 19 May 2021

Zoran Mamić Released From Custody, Has to Report to Bosnian Police Once a Week

ZAGREB, 19 May, 2021 - Former Dinamo football  coach Zoran Mamić will remain free while in Bosnia and Herzegovina, however, he will have to report to the police once a week and his personal documents have been temporarily confiscated, the court in Bosnia and Herzegovina decided on Wednesday.

Zoran Mamić was arrested early Wednesday morning by officers from the State Investigation and Protection Agency (SIPA) based on an arrest warrant issued against him in Croatia.

After that Mamić was handed over to the court in Sarajevo, Judge Branko Perić determined his status including his citizenship of BiH. The judge ruled that Mamić would remain free with precautionary measures and was ordered to give in his personal identification documents.

The court did not discuss the matter of Mamić's extradition considering that Croatia has not sent a formal request yet.

A Croatian Supreme Court ruling upheld a ruling sentencing Mamić to four years and eight months in prison after being convicted of siphoning money from the Dinamo Football Club.

After that he escaped to BiH and requested that he be allowed to serve his sentence in that country which was rejected. Zagreb County Court then issued an international arrest warrant against him.

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

Friday, 7 May 2021

DEFENDER-Europe-21: Zadar Doing Its Part in Large NATO Exercise

May 7, 2021 - As part of NATO, Croatia participates in a large military exercise called DEFENDER-Europe-21, and UK and US navy ships arrived in Zadar with valuable equipment to be distributed among training areas in Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Large-scale, multinational, and army-lead, DEFENDER-Europe is a joint exercise designed to build readiness and interoperability between the U.S., NATO, and partner militaries. This year's edition DEFENDER-Europe-21, as reported by U.S. Army Europe and Africa website, focuses on „Building operational readiness and interoperability with a greater number of NATO allies and partners over a wider area of operations is defensive in nature and focused on responding to the crisis if necessary“, and also shows that „the U.S. commitment to NATO is ironclad.“

The exercise also includes strict COVID prevention and mitigation measures, such as pre-deployment COVID testing and quarantining and the U.S. Air Force and U.S. Navy show significant involvement and will utilize key ground and maritime routes bridging Europe, Asia, and Africa – continues the website.

„Exercises new high-end capabilities such the new U.S. Army Security Force Assistance Brigades, air, and missile defense assets and the recently reactivated V Corps and demonstrates our ability to serve as a strategic security partner in the western Balkans and the Black Sea regions while sustaining our abilities in northern Europe, the Caucasus, Ukraine, and Africa“, adds the exercise goals the official U.S. Army website.

Apart from the U.S., Approximately 28,000 multinational forces from 26 nations conduct nearly simultaneous operations across more than 30 training areas in 12 countries, and as a NATO member, Croatia has not been left out of the drill.

U.S._Naval_Ship_Yuma_arrives_in_Zadar_Croatia_Sgt._Alexandra_Shea.jpg

U.S. Naval Ship Yuma arrives in Zadar, Croatia © Sgt. Alexandra Shea

As part of the exercise, U.S. Naval Ship Yuma and U.K. Vessel Hurst Point off-loaded more than 300 pieces of military equipment in Zadar, Croatia’s Gazenica port, after ferrying it from Durres in Albania. The delivery started on Tuesday, May 4, and it was concluded on Friday. The journey of the equipment started back on March 24 at the Port of Jacksonville in Florida. The local U.S. National Guard units were shipping the equipment for three days onto USNS Bob Hope (T-AKR 300) after which, the ship stopped by Portsmouth in Virginia for the final pieces of equipment before heading towards Durres in Albania. In Durres, the smaller vessels took the equipment and finally loaded it to Yuma, and Hurst Point, which brought it to the gem of Northern Dalmatia, Zadar.

„This process is called Joint Logistics Over-the-Shore, a method used to ensure swift delivery of supplies and equipment in a variety of port situations“, explained the press release.

U.S._equipment_leaves_for_training_area-c-Sgt._Joshua_Oh.jpgU.S. equipment leaves for training area © Sgt. Joshua Oh 

While many would probably stop at Zadar and chill for a lovely holiday, the equipment, however, will continue its journey. Part of the equipment will remain in Croatia, but it will be transferred to Slunj, home of the Main Training Area, and the rest goes to training areas scattered in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH). In BiH, the drills and maneuvers for which the equipment will be used are under the umbrella of the linked exercise named "Immediate Response 21” which will culminate in a joint, multinational live-fire demonstration called “Croatian Rampart 1991-2021” at the end of May. Not just as a test of possibility in the „God-forbid-we-are-attacked“ scenario, Croatian Rampart 1991-2021“ also celebrates the 30th anniversary of the Croatia Armed Forces.

The Main Training Area in Slunj, Croatia and training areas throughout Bosnia and Herzegovina to be used in drills and maneuvers alongside members of the Croatian Armed Forces, under the umbrella of the linked exercise named "Immediate Response 21.” The exercise culminates in a joint, multinational live-fire demonstration called “Croatian Rampart 1991-2021” - which celebrates the 30th anniversary of the Croatian Armed Forces at the end of May.

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British Major Dan Cornwell talking to Croatian press, screenshot / Defense Flash News

British Major Dan Cornwell told the Croatian press that the idea of being in Zadar is that Croatian, U.K., and U.S. forces operate together in loading U.S. equipment and personnel.

„We've done this before, on exercise last year in Germany, and I can say, it's a lot better down here in the south, it's absolutely amazing to be here in Croatia to do this alongside Croatian Armed Forces where we can better understand how we operate differently, how we operate similarly and equally building up our interoperability and our ability to operate better in the future“, said Maj. Cornwell, indicating that perhaps he can find Zadar, like many others, as a great holiday destination and not just the line of duty.

Learn more about Zadar on our TC page.

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

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