Thursday, 21 February 2019

Croatia Dismisses Bosnian Claims about Illegal Return of Migrants

ZAGREB, February 21, 2019 - Croatia's Interior Minister Davor Božinović on Wednesday rejected the Bihać mayor's accusations about the Croatian police illegally entering Bosnia and Herzegovina in Una-Sana Canton to bring back illegal migrants who were found on Croatian territory.

"I dismiss such insinuations. These are false accusations aimed at diverting attention from the key question of how those people came to Bihać and why they arrived there," Božinović said in Istanbul where he attended a two-day conference on migrations organised by the Budapest Process.

Back in 2017 we alerted Bosnia and Herzegovina's authorities about the trend of increasing migrant tides through Bosnia and Herzegovina and suggested that they should step up the protection of the borders with the countries from which migrants were arriving to Bosnia. Furthermore, it has been clearly stated on several occasions that the problem cannot be solved by allowing migrants to walk illegally into Croatia, Božinović said.

Croatia does now allow irregular migrations and is permanently reinforcing the police force to protect the borders, primarily due to irregular migrants who are trying to enter our country from Una-Sana Canton, obviously with the permission of those who are supposed to deter them, the Croatian minister said.

The Bihac mayor, Suhret Fazlić, made the accusations against the Croatian police at a session of the Bihać town council which discussed the migrant crisis which hit this part of Bosnia and Herzegovina the hardest.

Prevention and combating of irregular migrations and enhancement of conditions for regular migrants and their integration are key targets of a five-year plan of the Budapest Process, which held a conference in Istanbul on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Interior Minister Davor Božinović, who represented Croatia at the conference, said on Wednesday that all countries along the migrant route should enhance their cooperation.

Addressing the conference, Božinović underscored that commitment to the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms "is supposed to go hand in hand with the right of each country to control its borders and define its migrations policy" in order to curb irregular migrations and help refugees in need.

In his statement for Hina, Božinović said that the main conclusion of the Istanbul conference is that countries that are the source of migrations, transit countries and destination countries in Europe need to cooperate more closely.

"We, too, are registering a growing number of irregular migrants from the countries of the Silk Road route that are here – Afghanistan, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Iran. It is therefore essential to open talks and see, from the perspective of the European Union and a wider international community, how that issue should be approached and how the reasons why those irregular migrants are leaving (those countries) should be tackled. Nothing will be solved overnight but dialogue is important," the Croatian minister said.

The Budapest Process is a consultative forum with over 50 governments and numerous international organisations, aiming at developing comprehensive and sustainable systems for orderly migration. During its more than 25 years of operation, the Process has developed from an information sharing tool between European countries in a pre-EU enlargement setting to a far-reaching European-Asian forum for improving migration management. It has been chaired by Turkey and co-chaired by Hungary since 2006.

Asked about the arrivals of regular migrants who seek asylum in Croatia, Božinović said that Croatia had already taken in about 150 refugees and that it was planning to accommodate an additional hundred refugees.

Croatia is recognised in the international community as a member that participates in the process of refugee resettlement and it is proving its humanity to the extent to which it can afford it, he said.

During his two-day stay in Istanbul, Božinović held bilateral talks with his colleagues from Hungary, Turkey, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Greece.

He underscored that his talks with his counterparts from Afghanistan and Pakistan focused on the developments in those two Asian countries.

The Budapest Process identifies several priority areas including preventing and counteracting irregular migration while facilitating return and readmission of irregular migrants and fighting illegal networks for migrant smuggling as well as strengthening the positive impact of migration on development.

More news about the migrant crisis can be found in the Politics section.

Wednesday, 20 February 2019

Is Croatian Police Illegally Returning Migrants to Bosnia?

ZAGREB, February 20, 2019 - The mayor of the northwestern Bosnia and Herzegovina town of Bihać, Suhret Fazlić, on Wednesday accused the Croatian police of illegally entering Bosnia and Herzegovina in Una-Sana Canton where they are bringing illegal migrants who were found on Croatian territory and who, before that, somehow managed to cross the state border.

At the same time, the chairman of the Bosnia and Herzegovina Presidency, Milorad Dodik, warned that Bosnia and Herzegovina could not handle illegal migrations on its own and that the European Union must get involved.

Fazlić made the accusations against the Croatian police at a session of the Bihac town council which discussed the migrant crisis which hit this part of Bosnia and Herzegovina the hardest.

"You must not allow the Croatian police to bring here 30, 40, 100 migrants each day, bypassing the official border crossing. I am offended as a Bosnian citizen that someone from another country can enter Bosnia's territory and do as they please, regardless of how friendly that country might be. Croatian police and special forces are entering Bosnia, bringing migrants and sending them back to Bihac," Fazlić told N1 television.

The Bihać mayor claims that the Bosnian Serb entity police behaved in a similar fashion, saying that they were immediately arresting all migrants found on their territory and bringing them to the Bosnian State Ministry of Security which then automatically sends migrants to Bihac," N1 broadcaster cited Fazlić as saying. "Bosnia and Herzegovina must resolve this," Fazlić said.

The Bihać town council adopted a conclusion demanding the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina to urgently voice its opinion about illegal migrations and take measures aimed at efficiently controlling the migrant crisis.

More news on the migrant crisis can be found in the Politics section.

Wednesday, 6 February 2019

Bosnian Migrant Centres on Border with Croatia Overcrowded

ZAGREB, February 6, 2019 - The local authorities in Una-Sana Canton, northwestern Bosnia and Herzegovina, have warned that they have no more capacity to accept new irregular migrants and called on the state government in Sarajevo to take on the responsibility for migrant centres in the area.

The cantonal task force in charge of managing the migrant crisis called on the state-level Security Ministry to take over the control over the migrant reception centres in the towns of Bihać, Velika Kladuša and Cazin.

The cantonal authorities insist that the migrant tide must be put under control and that quotas for accommodation of migrants must be respected in line with available capacities.

Una-Sana Canton is due to cater for up to 3,200 migrants.

The largest reception centre is in the "Bira" factory in Bihać and has the capacity for 1,500 persons. However, it is already catering for nearly 2,000.

A few days ago, a mass fight erupted involving hundreds of migrants, and tens of them were injured.

More news on the migrant crisis in the region can be found in the Politics section.

Tuesday, 5 February 2019

Croatians Buying Cheap Real Estate in Bosnia and Herzegovina

Two winters with a lot of snow and low temperatures, as well as a somewhat better economic situation in Croatia, were enough for lovers of skiing and other winter outdoor activities to start buying cheap real estate in Bosnia and Herzegovina once again, reports Poslovni.hr on February 5, 2019.

Websites are full of ads offering cheap real estate in neighbouring Bosnia and Herzegovina again, especially apartments and holiday homes in the mountains. Everything changed two years ago when the local authorities started investing more and found private ski centre concessionaires.

“As for the real estate prices, there is no rule. Average land price is around 20 convertible marks for a square metre, but it is not the same for a 200 or a 500 square metre plot because the larger ones are more expensive. As for the furnished mountain houses, they cost about 600 marks on average, while unfinished homes are sold for about 300 marks per square metre,” said the owner of a real estate agency, discussing the Blidinje area in Herzegovina.

Another popular area is Kupres, often called the Herzegovinian Alps. “Now is the right time to buy real estate because the prices are lower than ever,” says Dragan Kupreškić, a private investor. “At the peak of the first investment wave in 2007-2008, the price of a square metre of a house reached up to a thousand euro per square, while at Jahorina it went up to two thousand euros. Today, you can find a square metre at Čajuša, in an almost finished apartment house, for between 350 and 470 euro. For some 20,000 euro, you can get a very nice apartment, which is the price of a garage in Split or Zagreb.”

Buyers from Croatia can acquire real estate in Bosnia and Herzegovina more easily now since in 2017 a special agreement was signed between the two countries. There is no more reciprocity, quota or anything similar; all you need is an ID and, of course, money on the bank account. Since recently, the real estate sales at the ski resorts in the neighbouring country have been supported by the local banks as well.

Translated from Poslovni.hr.

More real estate news can be found in the Lifestyle section.

Sunday, 27 January 2019

Sarajevo Political Parties Condemn Bosnian Croat Declaration

ZAGREB, January 27, 2019 - The biggest political parties based in Sarajevo on Saturday strongly condemned conclusions adopted at a convention of the Bosnian Croat National Assembly (HNS) held in Mostar earlier in the day, which rejected the verdict of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in the case against Jandranko Prlić and other senior officials of the former Herceg-Bosna, which established the existence of a joint criminal enterprise designed to separate parts of Bosnia and Herzegovina from the rest of the country and annex them to Croatia.

Earlier in the day, the HNS convention adopted a declaration calling for constitutional reforms and for the territorial and administrative reorganisation of Bosnia and Herzegovina to ensure the equality of ethnic Croats in relation to the other two constituent peoples and guarantee the country's integration with the EU and NATO.

The part of the HNS declaration which challenges the ICTY findings drew a response from the Party of Democratic Action (SDA), the Social Democratic Party (SDP BiH) and the Democratic Front.

The HNS's positions only deepen the divisions in Bosnia and Herzegovina and hamper the process of post-war reconciliation, the SDA said. "No act of rejection can change the final verdicts of the Hague-based tribunal or historical facts, but it does send a clear and unambiguous message about the policy pursued by the HNS, towards others in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the entire international public," the biggest Bosniak party said.

The HNS's call for the administrative and territorial retailoring of Bosnia and Herzegovina based on "the glorification of the joint criminal enterprise" constitutes a conscious effort to obstruct the dialogue necessary to implement the reform of the election system, the SDA said, stressing that HNS leaders had previously demonstrated their attitude to Bosnia and Herzegovina by attending a commemoration of the unconstitutional day of the Bosnian Serb entity on January 9.

The SDP BiH said that the denial of the ICTY rulings was a continuation of "the HDZ's retrograde policies", noting that the biggest Croat party was holding Bosnia and Herzegovina citizens hostage to its incorrect interpretations of the country's constitution and election law.

The DF, the party led by Željko Komšić, the Croat member of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina, called on representatives of the international community to condemn the HNS's "uncivilised act of glorification of crimes and denial of court findings."

The declaration of the HNS BiH, the body that coordinates activities of most Croat political parties in Bosnia and Herzegovina, rejected the ICTY's findings on the joint criminal enterprise, which, it said, "is attributed to Croatia, the Croat Republic of Herceg-Bosna and the Croatian Defence Council in an unfounded and unfair way".

"The ill-intentioned assertion is unfortunately used for the accomplishment of wartime goals of one of the formerly warring parties in Bosnia and Herzegovina and for the elimination of the Croat people as a political entity in the country. In the "Prlić and others" case, the ICTY was not qualified, nor is it at all qualified, as it itself ruled in 2007, to decide about the accountability of states because it is a criminal court which prosecutes only individuals," the HNS said in the declaration, among other things.

More news about the status of Croats in Bosnia and Herzegovina can be found in the Diaspora section.

Monday, 21 January 2019

Bosniak Minority Voices Dissatisfaction with Their Status in Croatia

ZAGREB, January 21, 2019 - The leader of the Democratic Action Party of Croatia (SDA), Armin Hodžić, said on Sunday that the Bosniak minority in Croatia was dissatisfied with its status and that this was partly due to the fact that their MP Ermina Lekaj Prljaskaj was a poor representative of their interests in the Croatian Parliament.

"As representatives of the Bosniak minority in Croatia, we always point out that their status is very bad," Hodžić told a press conference in Zagreb.

He noted that the Bosniaks are the second largest minority in Croatia, with over 31,500 people, but despite this they share their constituency with four other ethnic groups – Albanians, Macedonians, Montenegrins and Slovenians. In the 2015/2016 election, they lost the possibility of having their own representative in the Croatian Parliament, he added.

"A few years ago, the Bosniaks lost their voice in Croatia. They lost the possibility of articulating their views and interests and presenting them institutionally. In the current circumstances, the Bosniaks in Croatia are not a second-category but a third-category minority," the SDA leader said.

Dissatisfied with the representation of the Bosniaks in the present parliament by independent MP Ermina Lekaj Prljaskaj, Hodžić said he would run for the position of Bosniak MP in the next parliamentary election in Constituency 12, which is designed for the ethnic minorities.

The chairman of the Bosniak Minority Council in Zagreb, Harun Omerbašić, criticised Lekaj Prljaskaj for the lack of interest, poor performance and avoiding communication, adding that despite that the doors of Bosniak minority representatives remained open to cooperation with her. "We take this opportunity to call on her to open the door of her office and start cooperating with legitimate representatives of the Bosniak minority in Croatia," Omerbašić said.

Hodžić also commented on current relations between Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, welcoming the statements by the Croatian state leadership that Croatia was Bosnia and Herzegovina's greatest friend. He, however, noted that these statements should be "implemented in practice."

The problem, in his opinion, is that Croatia's leadership receives information about the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina "only through one channel, the Croatian Democratic Union of Bosnia and Herzegovina (HDZ BH) and its leader Dragan Čović."

Hodžić said that Čović’s latest political actions had shown that problems between the Bosnian Croats and Bosniaks were not insurmountable. He noted that Čović's attendance at the celebration of Republika Srpska Day was his first since this day was declared unconstitutional, "which paints a completely different picture and sends a completely different message from what had happened before."

"I think this is not in line with the foreign policy of Croatia as an EU member state. That's why I hope that the Croatian state leadership will realise that it is necessary to ensure dialogue between legal and legitimate representatives of the Bosniaks in Bosnia and Herzegovina and all others who represent both the Croats and Serbs, and that common ground and a consensus will be reached on vital issues that have come to the fore lately," Hodžić said.

"This will not happen if war criminals continue to be glorified in Bosnia and Herzegovina, if city squares and schools continue to be named after convicted war criminals, and if insults on ethnic and religious grounds continue," he added, noting that had received threats and hateful messages because of his political engagement.

The press was also briefly addressed by Salih Huremović, the head of the SDA branch in Velika Gorica, who had been decorated for his role in the Homeland War and 1995's Operation Storm.

Huremović said that 25,000 Bosniaks had been involved in the 1991-1995 war in Croatia, of whom 1,180 had been killed, several hundred wounded and nearly 100 left fully disabled. "These figures cannot and should not be ignored. Unfortunately, this sacrifice is not appropriately recognised and marked today," he said.

More news on the status of Croatia’s national minorities can be found in the Politics section.

Monday, 21 January 2019

Željko Komšić Open to Dialogue with Zagreb

ZAGREB, January 21, 2019 - The Croat member of Bosnia and Herzegovina's tripartite presidency, Željko Komšić, said on Sunday he was open to dialogue with Croatia's leadership, who consider his election illegitimate, and that his country currently did not need the support of the Serb member of the presidency, Milorad Dodik, for the continuation of its journey towards NATO membership.

"As far as I am concerned, I don't see any other way but for us to relax our relations through cooperation and talks," Komšić said in a Croatian television current affairs talk show.

Komšić said that his country was interested in resolving issues concerning border demarcation and property relations and that the Croatian political leadership was welcome in Sarajevo in that regard. He noted that these issues should be resolved in such a way that neither party was damaged.

Speaking of the decision by dozens of predominantly-Croat municipalities and several cantons to declare him persona non grata because he had been elected the Croat member of the presidency thanks to Bosniak votes, Komšić said that this was "the policy of the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ)."

"If they don't need me, and they need me more than I need them, those municipal services and mayors, fine, but I stand at their disposal," he said. "As far as the Croats are concerned, and some of the Serbs too, they are certainly all aware that Bosnia and Herzegovina is their country. What politicians are saying is another matter," he added.

Komšić advocates Bosnia and Herzegovina as a civic state and is against the Bosniaks, Serbs and Croats being treated as constituent ethnic groups. He claims to be representing all citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

At the same time, activists of the movement #SejdoKomsic is not my president, launched earlier this year, have announced protests for the 7th of every month to draw attention to what they call "the Bosniak's imposition of Komšić as the Croat representative." The movement was called after Sejdo Bajramović, a communist-era representative of Kosovo Albanians, whom the late Serbian leader Slobodan Milosevic forced onto the Yugoslav federal presidency against the will of the Albanian people in Kosovo. More than 10,000 people took part in an anti-Komšić rally in Mostar.

Speaking of the constitutionality of the three largest ethnic groups in Bosnia and Herzegovina - Bosniaks, Serbs and Croats, Komšić said that each group took from the constitution what suited them best. He said that the constitution was in many aspects illogical, but needed to be respected.

"Under the Bosnia and Herzegovina constitution, it is not just the Croats, Bosniaks and Serbs that are constituent. The constitution says that Bosnia and Herzegovina is the country of Croats, Serbs, Bosniaks, others and citizens, which shows that the architects of the Dayton agreement took everything into account and did not reduce Bosnia and Herzegovina to just three ethnic groups," he said.

Komšić also noted that under the constitution the presidency members "are not representatives, but members of their ethnic group." "I am a member of the Croat ethnic group, but under the constitution I have the obligation to represent all citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina," he added.

He said it was absurd that the presidency should have three members, recommending a chancellor-style system with a single president being elected in parliament as is the case in Germany. He said he would rather have certain powers of the presidency transferred to the government, or the Council of Ministers.

Speaking of the construction of the Pelješac Bridge, Komšić said that this problem could have been avoided had the border agreement signed by former presidents Alija Izetbegović of Bosnia and Herzegovina and Franjo Tuđman of Croatia been ratified. He said that this hadn't been done because of the lack of will on Zagreb's part.

Komšić had previously announced that he would bring a lawsuit against Croatia over the Pelješac Bridge construction project, but now he said that there would be no suit and that he preferred dialogue. "It is impossible to separate Bosnia and Herzegovina from Croatia, Serbia and Montenegro. What we think of each other is irrelevant, we need to work together," he stressed.

Apart from the Pelješac Bridge, Sarajevo and Zagreb are also in dispute over border demarcation and Yugoslav-era properties which Croatia has not returned to Bosnia and Herzegovina, Komšić warned.

Commenting on his statement that the biggest threats to the region are posed by Serbian, Croatian and Albanian territorial expansion projects, Komšić said that in his opinion these projects present, partly directly and partly indirectly, a great threat to his country.

Commenting on the statement by Bosniak leader Bakir Izetbegović, made in the same television programme a year ago, that it would not be possible to establish a third, Croat-majority entity in Bosnia and Herzegovina without a war, Komšić said that those who were ready to take up arms were in the minority, adding that people in Bosnia and Herzegovina had no will to fight any more.

Komšić said that Bosnia and Herzegovina was currently closer to becoming a member of NATO than of the European Union because the NATO accession process was simpler and would bring benefits more quickly.

NATO membership brings security to the whole country, "a possible intervention from the outside is out of the question", but it requires political reforms, he said.

The NATO membership bid is also supported by the Bosniak member of the presidency, Šefik Džaferović, but the Serb member Milorad Dodik is against.

Dodik insists that his candidate for Chairman of the Council of Ministers, Zoran Tegeltija, will have to comply with the resolution, passed by the Bosnian Serb National Assembly in 2017, which promotes the military neutrality of the Republika Srpska entity and is therefore an obstacle to Bosnia and Herzegovina joining NATO.

Džaferović and Komšić have warned that the new Chairman must not be a person who will block the country's path towards NATO membership because this is its foreign policy commitment.

Komšić said in the television interview on Sunday that he was unable to convince Dodik for now, but that all decisions and documents were prepared and that Dodik's consent was not needed at present.

More news on the relations between Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina can be found in the Politics section.

Sunday, 13 January 2019

Croatia to Appoint New Ambassador to Bosnia

ZAGREB, January 13, 2019 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said on Saturday he had not talked yet with HDZ BiH president Dragan Čović, who has been criticised for attending a Republika Srpska Day commemoration, as has Ivan Del Vechio who, because of that, was dismissed as Croatia's ambassador to Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) . "I leave it up to Mr. Ćović and the HDZ BiH to comment on this," Plenković told reporters in Split.

He reiterated that Croatia had not been informed that Del Vechio would attend the commemoration in Banja Luka on January 9. He said Del Vechio should have consulted Croatia if he had a meeting in Banja Luka that had nothing to do with the commemoration. "He shouldn't have been there on that day."

Plenković recalled that Del Vechio had been Croatia's ambassador to BiH five years and had never attended Republika Srpska Day commemorations. "It's a little unusual that he ended up in such a situation at the end of his term and career. That's why he was recalled to Zagreb for consultations and we will start appointing a new ambassador to BiH very soon."

Asked what message Čović had sent by attending the commemoration, Plenković said "it's extremely important that Croatia's stance on BiH is well-meaning and friendly." He added that Croatia had been the country "which has supported BiH's European journey the most, but by ensuring the equality of the Croat people as a constituent people, of course."

Plenković said he informed the European Council twice that BiH's current election law "makes it possible to get around the Dayton/Paris agreement, which is also BiH's Constitution, bringing Croats, as the least numerous constituent people, into an unequal position because their member of the BiH Presidency is elected by members of the other people in the Federation." He was referring to Bosniaks in the Croat-Bosniak entity, called the Federation.

Aside from government formation in BiH and the continuation of its European path, it is important that the international community, primarily the European Union, help BiH "adopt a just election law under which all three constituent peoples will be equal," Plenković said.

"We would certainly prefer it if Dragan Čović, who won 155,000 votes, or 80% of the vote of the Croats in BiH who went to the polls, was a member of the BiH Presidency and if he was seeing to the vital interests of the Croatian people in BiH," he added.

More news on Croatia’s relations with Bosnia and Herzegovina can be found in the Politics section.

Saturday, 12 January 2019

Procedure Launched for Dismissal of Croatian Ambassador to Bosnia

ZAGREB, January 12, 2019 - Procedure has been launched to dismiss Ivan Del Vechio as Croatian ambassador to Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs confirmed to Hina on Friday, two days after he attended a ceremony marking the controversial Republika Srpska Day in Banja Luka.

Ambassador Del Vechio has been recalled to Zagreb for consultations and a procedure for his dismissal has been launched, the Ministry said.

Republika Srpska, the Serb entity in Bosnia and Herzegovina, celebrates 9 January as the day on which the Republic of the Serb People in Bosnia and Herzegovina was declared in 1992 by a self-styled Assembly of the Serb People led by Radovan Karadžić and Momcilo Krajisnik, who were later convicted as war criminals by a UN tribunal in The Hague.

The Republika Srpska Day was declared unconstitutional by the Bosnian Constitutional Court in 2015.

Bosnian Serb general Slavko Lisica, who had been sentenced by a Croatian court to 15 years in prison for war crimes committed in Dalmatia during the 1991-1995 war, was posthumously decorated at Wednesday's ceremony.

Croatian Minister of Foreign and European Affairs Marija Pejčinović Burić said on Thursday that Croatia had never participated in those ceremonies and that Del Vechio had made a wrong decision.

The Croatian ministry said on Thursday that Zagreb had not been aware of the ambassador's plan to attend the event and that he had been recalled for consultations for that reason. It condemned the decoration of the Bosnian Serb general.

The ceremony was ignored by almost all representatives of the diplomatic corps in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

More news on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs can be found in our Politics section.

Friday, 11 January 2019

Croatian Ambassador Erred by Attending Bosnian Serb Celebration, Says Minister

ZAGREB, January 11, 2019 - The Croatian Foreign and European Affairs Ministry had not been informed of the decision by the Croatian Ambassador to Bosnia and Herzegovina to attend the celebration of Republika Srpska Day, Minister Marija Pejčinović Burić told HRT broadcaster on Thursday, adding that Ambassador Del Vechio "had made a wrong call."

Croatia has never taken part in the celebration of that day and this is how it should have been this time as well," Pejčinović Burić said.

Ambassador Del Vechio understood that this was a visit by the chairman of the Bosnia and Herzegovina presidency, the minister said.

Pejčinović Burić dismissed speculation that Del Vechio traveled to Banja Luka following instructions from Zagreb.

Croatia's policy regarding the Republika Srpska has not changed and his presence at the celebration "is a big surprise;" notably in light of the fact that during his term as ambassador he had never attended this ceremony, the minister said. "He should not have been there on that day," Pejčinović Burić said.

The ambassador has been recalled for consultations to Zagreb, the minister said adding that a decision regarding further steps would be made. She added that the ambassadors' term had ended anyway.

HDZ BiH president Dragan Čović's decision to attend the ceremony was "an autonomous decision of the president of the largest Bosnian Croat political party and we in Croatia have absolutely no influence on it or have any intention to decide on the matter," Pejčinović Burić said commenting on the Čović's decision to attend the ceremony in Banja Luka.

The said ceremony in Banja Luka was marking January 9, which the authorities of the Republic of Srpska observe in memory of the establishment of "a republic of the Serb people in Bosnia and Herzegovina," which has since been proclaimed as unconstitutional.

At the ceremony attended by both Čović and Del Vechio, the president of Bosnia and Herzegovina's Serb entity, Željka Cvijanović, posthumously awarded decorations to Slavko Lisica, a Yugoslav People's Army officer who was convicted of war crimes in Croatia.

More news on the relations between Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina can be found in our Politics section.

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