Friday, 30 August 2019

Plenković, Čović Say EU, NATO are Bosnia's Future

ZAGREB, August 30, 2019 - Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković on Friday received Dragan Čović, deputy chair of the Bosnian parliament's House of Peoples and president of the Croatian National Assembly (HNS) and the HDZ BiH party, and they agreed that the EU and NATO were Bosnia and Herzegovina's future.

The two officials discussed the political situation in BiH and Croatia as well as future economic cooperation between the two countries, the government said in a press release.

Čović said HNS officials were strong advocates of BiH's EU and NATO accession, and that it was imperative to finish government formation in BiH at all levels as soon as possible.

Plenković said the Croatian government strongly pushed for BiH to join the EU and NATO as soon as possible as necessary for its stability, peace and economic development. He added that Croatia, as an EU and NATO member, would help BiH in the process.

He also said that in drawing up common policies in BiH, it was important to respect all the rights and interests of its three constituent peoples.

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

Tuesday, 13 August 2019

Croatia Second Biggest Investor in Bosnia and Herzegovina

ZAGREB, August 13, 2019 - Investors from Croatia were the second leading foreign investors in Bosnia and Herzegovina in 2018 and they are ranked second also in overall foreign investments in the neighbouring country, show data published by the Central Bank of Bosnia and Herzegovina on Monday.

Investments in Bosnia and Herzegovina in 2018 amounted to 400 million euro, or 2.3% of GDP.

The amount of foreign investments in 2018 was similar to that in 2017.

Most foreign investments, totalling 71 million euro, came from Russia, while investments from Croatia amounted to 54 million euro.

They were followed by investments from the Netherlands, Austria and Germany, which ranged between 40 and 46 million euros.

Most of the investments, in the amount of 74 million euro, were made in the banking sector, while investments in the production of coke and oil products amounted to 69 million euro, followed by investments in retail trade and production of base metals.

At the end of 2018, total foreign investments in Bosnia and Herzegovina amounted to 7.3 billion euro, with Austria having invested the most, in the amount of 1.3 billion euro, followed by Croatia, with investments amounting to 1.17 billion euro and Serbia, which has invested slightly more than one billion euros.

Investors from Bosnia and Herzegovina invest the most in Croatia, with investments to date totalling 117 million euro, and in Germany, with investments amounting to around 83 million euro.

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

Monday, 12 August 2019

Croatian and Bosnian Foreign Ministers Meet to Discuss Bilateral Relations

ZAGREB, August 12, 2019 - Croatia's Foreign and European Affairs Minister Gordan Grlić Radman and his Bosnian counterpart Igor Crnadak, who met for the first time since Grlić Radman recently stepped into office, agreed on the need to solve outstanding issues in the bilateral relations and to work on the improvement of the relations in the region, the Bosnian ministry said in a press release on Monday.

According to the press release, the meeting was held in the southern Croatian seaside resort of Brela on Sunday evening.

The press release quotes Crnadak as commenting on Croatia's plan to build a disposal site of waste from the Krško nuclear power plant at the Trgovska Gora location near the border with Bosnia and Herzegovina. He urged the completion of the construction of a new bridge across the River Sava at Gradiška near the Croatia-Bosnia border.

The two ministers also discussed the implementation of the August 5 agreement reached by the leaders of the three constituent peoples in Bosnia and Herzegovina. As soon as the agreement on the formation of the state-level authorities in Bosnia and Herzegovina was concluded, Zagreb welcomed that deal.

"The Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs welcomes the agreement reached by the leaders of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s political parties, facilitated by the EU special representative, as an important step towards the formation of the Council of Ministers as well as the strengthening of the functionality and effectiveness of BiH state bodies and the implantation of the necessary reforms," reads a statement which was issued by the Croatian ministry on 6 August.

"The agreement is vital for the further stabilisation of BiH and its progress in the EU integration, which Croatia fully and unequivocally supports."

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

Thursday, 8 August 2019

Croatian Police Say No Force Used against 18 Migrants

ZAGREB, August 8, 2019 - The Croatian Ministry of the Interior said on Wednesday that 18 migrants moving in separate groups were found in the area of Buhača near the border with Bosnia and Herzegovina as they were attempting to cross the border into Croatia, and that Croatian police prevented them from doing so without using force.

"According to information collected so far, during the deterrence procedure, police officers did not use means of coercion against the persons caught while trying to illegally cross the state border. There were no visible injuries on the persons concerned nor did any of them seek medical assistance and the border police of Bosnia and Herzegovina did not report any alleged injuries to us either," said the ministry.

The ministry said the allegations of injuries and use of force would be checked as in all previous cases.

Quoting hospital and police sources, Bosnian media said earlier in the day that 18 illegal migrants were injured under as yet unclear circumstances in the area of Velika Kladuša and that prosecutorial authorities had launched an investigation into the case.

Bosnian border police spokeswoman Sanela Dujković confirmed that border police found the 18 injured migrants in the area close to the border with Croatia but she could not say what exactly had happened.

The spokesman for the police of the northwestern Bosnian Una-Sana Canton, Ale Šiljdedić, said that cantonal police did not intervene in the case but were informed that a larger group of migrants had sought medical assistance in a clinic in Velika Kladuša.

Officials at the Velika Kladuša clinic confirmed having admitted six migrants with serious injuries, saying the other 12 had light injuries.

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

Wednesday, 7 August 2019

Bosnian Media Claim Croatian Police Beat up 18 Migrants, Forced Them Back

ZAGREB, August 7, 2019 - The group of migrants discovered by Bosnia and Herzegovina police in the area of the northwestern town of Velika Kladuša in the night between Tuesday and Wednesday are victims of brutality by the Croatian border police who caught them as they were trying to illegally cross the border into Croatia, beat them up and returned them forcibly to Bosnia and Herzegovina, local media reported on Wednesday without providing any evidence or official statements for their claims.

Quoting unnamed sources, the Klix web portal claims that the migrants were illegally transferred back to Bosnia and Herzegovina by members of Croatian border police forces, who left after being spotted by the Bosnian border police.

"This is the first concrete case that confirms allegations by Bosnia and Herzegovina officials about the neighbouring country violating Bosnia and Herzegovina's sovereignty with incursions of its police into the territory under Bosnia and Herzegovina's control," the portal reported.

The coordinator for assistance to migrants in Velika Kladuša, Jasmin Čehić, earlier told the Oslobodjenje daily that the migrants were given medical assistance in the local clinic where they had been brought by the border police.

A total of 18 migrants were admitted to the clinic and six of them had serious injuries, mostly bone fractures, while the others had light injuries.

"They said that they had already crossed over to Croatia at an unknown part of the border, when they were discovered by Croatian police who allegedly beat them up, took their money and mobile phones and then transferred them back to Bosnia and Herzegovina's territory," Čehić said.

Bosnian border police have not confirmed any of the allegations, saying that they were still gathering information to help establish what exactly had happened with the migrants found near Velika Kladuša.

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

Wednesday, 7 August 2019

Croatia Welcomes Bosnia Government Formation Agreement

ZAGREB, August 7, 2019 - Croatia's Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs on Tuesday welcomed an agreement reached by the leaders of Bosnia and Herzegovina's three biggest political parties on the formation of a new state-level government.

This agreement is of crucial importance for the further stabilisation of Bosnia and Herzegovina and progress in its integration with the European Union, which Croatia strongly and unequivocally supports, reads a press release issued by the Croatian ministry.

Monday's agreement, which was facilitated by EU Special Representative Ambassador Lars-Gunnar Wigemark, was concluded by the leader of the HDZ BiH party, Dragan Čović, SNSD leader Milorad Dodik, and SDA BiH leader Bakir Izetbegović. It paves the way for the formation of a Council of Ministers after the 2018 general election.

The deal was welcomed also by the EU.

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

Sunday, 4 August 2019

Ahead of Operation Storm Anniversary, New Tensions Between Croatia and Neighbours

ZAGREB, August 4, 2019 - Where have 400,000 Serbs and Yugoslavs from Croatia gone, Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić asked Croatian officials on Saturday, ahead of events marking the 24th anniversary of the Croatian military and police operation Storm.

Relations between Belgrade and Zagreb become tense every year in August when the operation whereby Croatia in 1995 won the war against the Yugoslav People's Army (JNA) and local Serb rebels, is commemorated.

Croats consider the operation a legitimate action that liberated then occupied parts of the country while Serbians see it as an act of ethnic cleansing of their ethnic kin from Croatia.

Vučić asked Croatian authorities to explain how it was possible that of the 582,000 Serbs and 106,000 Yugoslavs in Croatia's 1981 census, only 184,000 declared themselves as Serbs in 2011.

The Serbian president is confident that by 2021, there will be fewer than 150,000 Serbs left in Croatia.

"If you say that 100,000 have emigrated for economic reasons, what about the other 400,000? How will you explain that?" asked Vučić.

He reiterated that for Croatia the day of Operation Storm was "a day of joy" while for Serbia "it is one of the saddest days in the country's modern history."

"We must not be ashamed of our tears, we should respect others' victims but unlike before, we must also respect our, Serb victims, talk about them and not downplay them," Vucic told reporters in Belgrade.

Serbia-Croatia relations have been deteriorating in recent years, mainly because of opposite positions on Operation Storm and the plight of Serbs in Croatia, Independent Democratic Serb Party (SDSS) president Milorad Pupovac said this past Thursday, adding that it was necessary to conceive a policy of remembering all the victims which would enable people to live normally.

Pupovac, a Croatian MP, said Croatia-Serbia relations had been bad since 2011 and that, aside from different interpretations of Operation Storm, "a serious problem for Serbs in Croatia" was the absence of sentences for war crimes, persecutions, the destruction of villages, and the prevention of returns.

This year Operation Storm has also caused disputes in relations with Bosnia and Herzegovina, after President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović said that it had saved Bosnia and Herzegovina's northwestern Krajina region from genocide and that she would like the neighboring country never to forget who gave it a hand in the most difficult times.

A former commander of the Bosniak Army of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Hamdija Abdić Tigar, dismissed Grabar-Kitarovic's statement, claiming that it was Bosniak troops that had liberated parts of Croatia.

"The hell they saved us... We kept this region safe for them the whole time. What would have happened had we been defeated? Where would Croatia be today? Its border would be running along the Karlovac-Karlobag-Virovitica line," said Abdić.

The 24th anniversary of Operation Storm will be marked on August 5 and as in previous years, the central commemoration will be held in Knin, the former stronghold of Croatian Serb rebels, and it will be attended by the highest state officials.

On August 5 Croatia also observes Victory Day, Homeland Thanksgiving Day and Croatian Veterans' Day.

More news about the Operation Storm can be found in the Politics section.

Friday, 2 August 2019

Komšić Says Croatian Police Entering Bosnian Territory

ZAGREB, August 1, 2019 - Chairman of the presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina Željko Komšić on Thursday added fuel to the verbal war with Croatian officials, claiming that they were "meddling and lying", reiterating once again that Croatia's police officers were illegally entering Bosnia and Herzegovina's territory.

Commenting on a statement by Prime Minister Andrej Plenković, who said that he was sorry about the "exaggerated reactions" by officials in Bosnia and Herzegovina and messages to President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović, Komšić told the Klix web portal that statements like that did not interest him and that he expects Croatian authorities to, above all, ensure that their police officers withdraw from territory in Bosnia and Herzegovina who are allegedly entering the country to push back illegal migrants.

"That is unacceptable undermining of Bosnia and Herzegovina's territorial integrity and sovereignty. Instead of asking for an apology due to the lies their officials have been caught in, they should order that armed police withdraw from the border area," Komšić said.

"The tensions are just a reaction to the conduct of senior Croatian officials and their meddling in Bosnia and Herzegovina's internal affairs. We call for resolving at the highest level all outstanding issues between two neighbouring and friendly countries," Komšić said.

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

Friday, 2 August 2019

President Says Operation Storm Saved Bosnia

ZAGREB, August 1, 2019 - President and Armed Forces Supreme Commander Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović said on Thursday that Croatia's Operation Storm saved Bosnia and Herzegovina and that she would like the neighbouring country never to forget who gave it a hand in the most difficult times.

She was speaking at a ceremony at the Defence Ministry on the occasion of Victory and Homeland Thanksgiving Day, Croatian War Veterans Day and the 24th anniversary of Operation Storm, at which 266 soldiers were promoted and more than 100 were awarded.

"Looking at you all fills me with special pride. Seeing young people who are willing to continue on the path of Croatian defenders in serving the homeland guarantees that in these stormy times full of new challenges, on Croatia's bulwark, stand the defenders of its freedom, security and future," said Grabar-Kitarović.

She said the 1995 Operation Storm was a watershed that marked the arrival of peace in a war-torn Croatia and that it was followed by operations in BiH where, she added, Croatian forces, with many victims, broke the Serbian aggression and prevented new Srebrenicas.

The president recalled last week's terrorist attack in Afghanistan in which Croatian lance corporal Josip Briški was killed and two members of the Croatian contingent in the Resolute Support mission were wounded. All three were decorated.

The president said nearly 24 years had passed since the last Croatian defender was killed in battle. "Like Josip Jović, the first defender killed in the Homeland War, lance corporal Briški gave his life for peace, defending Croatia far from its borders."

Defence Minister Damir Krstičević said the Operation Storm anniversary was a celebration of the greatest victory of the Croatian army and police in the Homeland War, but also a day to remember the defenders who built their lives into the foundations of the state for present-day peace and freedom.

"An enormous sacrifice was made for our freedom," he said, adding that this year's Operation Storm anniversary would be "significant and sad because of our Josip Briški, who died serving the homeland and all of humankind in the struggle for peace, freedom and security in the world."

Krstičević said Briški's death proved that peace and security had no price and that it was therefore necessary to continue to develop and strengthen the Croatian army and the homeland security system.

More info about the Homeland War can be found in the Politics section.

Thursday, 1 August 2019

Bosnian Security Minister Accuses Croatian Police of Pushbacks of Migrants

ZAGREB, August 1, 2019 - Bosnia and Herzegovina's Security Minister Dragan Mektić has again accused Croatian police of forcibly returning illegal migrants to Bosnia and Herzegovina and violating the country's territorial integrity.

"We have the information to prove this, that they enter our territory armed, and footage showing what they do to migrants who cross into Croatia from Bosnia and Herzegovina, they beat them, take away their money and mobile phones, and return them to us," Mektić told the Bosnian Faktor news website on Thursday.

Mektić said that his ministry does not have the authority to respond because this is a foreign policy matter, adding that all information available has been referred to the country's presidency from which they expect a reaction.

"Something has to be done, there has to be a response. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has also been notified that Croatian police enter Bosnia and Herzegovina armed, and they, too, must respond and protect the integrity and sovereignty of Bosnia and Herzegovina," Mektić said.

The Croat chairman of Bosnia and Herzegovina's Presidency, Željko Komšić, raised this issue at a meeting with Croatia's Ambassador Ivan Sabolić on Wednesday.

Suhret Fazlić, the mayor of Bihac, the town with the largest concentration of illegal migrants seeking to reach western Europe, made similar accusations in a statement carried by the Zagreb-based Jutarnji List daily earlier this week.

Fazlić said that all migrants caught in Croatia are pushed back across the border near Bihac regardless of whether they came from Serbia or Bosnia and Herzegovina.

"Croatian police, armed with Kalashnikov assault rifles, cross the border one kilometre deep into our territory. When I tell them that it is against the law, they just shrug and say they are acting under orders. You can't justify such actions with deterrence," the mayor said.

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

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