Monday, 25 July 2022

PM Says Pelješac Bridge to Strengthen Bonds Between Croatia and Bosnia

ZAGREB, 25 July 2022 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said on Monday that Pelješac Bridge marked the achievement of Croatia's goal to connect its territory.

"We are very proud of it," Plenković said during a visit to Mostar, southern Bosnia, and Herzegovina, ahead of Tuesday's opening ceremony for this largest infrastructure facility built in Croatia since its accession to the European Union in mid-2013.

He said that this project would further strengthen the bonds between Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina. "The idea was to alleviate the flow of people and goods through Neum."

Pelješac Bridge will provide an uninterrupted link between southernmost Croatia and the rest of the country by bypassing a short stretch of the coastline at Neum where Bosnia and Herzegovina has access to the Adriatic Sea.

For more, check out our politics section.

Tuesday, 24 May 2022

Croatian President Rules Out Possibility of Armed Conflicts in BiH

ZAGREB, 24 May 2022 - President Zoran Milanović said on Tuesday there was a risk of the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina deteriorating and that his intention is to prevent that and help find "a framework for coexistence of the three constituent peoples in BiH", however, he ruled out the possibility of an armed conflict.

"Anyone starting talk of a war erupting in BiH should get their mouth taped," said Milanović adding that speculations like that amount to war-mongering propaganda.

"Who will attack whom in BiH? Perhaps, Serbs with their three armored vehicles?," Milanović wondered in an ironic comment, insisting that not enough weapons existed for anyone to spark an armed conflict.

He announced a phone call to NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg for Tuesday afternoon so as to inform him of what is going on in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Last week, the Croatian president sent a letter about this issue to Stoltenberg.

Milanović said that "when it comes to knowing about the developments in Bosnia and Herzegovina, international leaders are not updated," accusing Croatia's diplomats of that.

Milanović accused Prime Minister Andrej Plenković of boycotting his proposal to hold a session of the National Security Council to discuss the state of affairs in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

He also criticized Plenković over a lack of a joint position on the issue, and again ruled out that "there was anything personal in that conflict."

For more, check out our politics section.

Monday, 10 January 2022

PM Condemns Banja Luka Authorities' Decision to Put Up Plaque in Tribute to JNA Major

ZAGREB, 10 Jan 2022 - Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said on Monday he was "appalled" by a decision by the Banja Luka city authorities to put up a plaque in tribute to JNA Major Milan Tepić, who blew up an ammunition depot in Bjelovar, Croatia in 1991, killing 11 members of Croatian defense forces.

"We are all appalled considering (the incident) and the number of people killed at the time. Therefore we consider any memorial plaque inappropriate and condemn it," Plenković said during a visit to Split.

When Croatian forces liberated the JNA barracks in Bjelovar on 29 September 1991, most JNA soldiers there surrendered, while Tepić refused. Instead, he destroyed the ammunition depot, killing himself, 11 Croatian defenders, and dozens of JNA conscripts.

Tepic, who was in charge of the ammunition depot in the village of Bedenik, had planned to blow up all four warehouses at that location but was prevented from doing so by four Croatian soldiers, whose intervention prevented an even bigger disaster.

Banja Luka Mayor Draško Stanivuković on Sunday unveiled a plaque commemorating Tepić, describing him as "the last Yugoslav national hero." The plaque was unveiled on the occasion of the day of the Serb entity of Republika Srpska, January 9, a holiday that was declared unconstitutional by the BiH Constitutional Court in 2016.

On Sunday, a parade was held in Banja Luka for that day, which is a public holiday in the Serb entity, with the Serb member of the BiH Presidency, Milorad Dodik, saying that "Republika Srpska is our state, regardless of those who deny it to us."

In a comment on the event as well as the Serb entity's aspirations for secession, Plenković reiterated Croatia's strong support to the territorial integrity of Bosnia and Herzegovina, "which we respect and are helping on its European journey and which we want to be a functioning country."

"We are against any messages that have secessionist and separatist connotations," Plenković stressed.

President of the Serb National Council (SNV), and a Croatian Member of Parliament Milorad Pupovac, also attended the events in Banja Luka on Sunday.

"As for Mr. Pupovac's attendance, he was there only for the official ceremony in his capacity as president of the SNV," Plenković said, adding that "there has been significant support there to the post-earthquake reconstruction of Banovina", a reference to post-earthquake aid to Croatia's Sisak-Moslavina County provided by the Serb entity authorities.

"He neither made any speeches nor did he have any special role there," Plenković said in conclusion, in reference to Pupovac.

For more, check out our dedicated politics section.

Monday, 10 January 2022

Foreign Ministry Sends Protest Note to BiH Over Memorial Plaque in Banja Luka

ZAGREB, 10 Jan 2022 - Croatia's ambassador to Bosnia and Herzegovina has presented a protest note to the BiH Foreign Ministry over a decision to unveil a plaque honoring JNA Major Milan Tepić in the Bosnian Serb entity capital, Banja Luka, who blew up an ammunition depot in Bjelovar, Croatia in a suicidal action in 1991.

When Croatian forces liberated the JNA barracks in Bjelovar on 29 September 1991, most JNA soldiers there surrendered, while Tepić refused. Instead, he destroyed the ammunition depot, killing himself, 11 Croatian defenders, and dozens of JNA conscripts as well as endangering local civilians.

Tepic, who was in charge of the ammunition depot in the village of Bedenik, had planned to blow up all four warehouses at that location but was prevented from doing so by four Croatian soldiers, whose intervention prevented an even bigger disaster.

Banja Luka Mayor Draško Stanivuković on Sunday unveiled a plaque commemorating Tepić, describing him as "the last Yugoslav national hero." The plaque was unveiled on the occasion of the day of the Serb entity of Republika Srpska, January 9, a holiday that was declared unconstitutional by the BiH Constitutional Court several years ago.

The Croatian Foreign Ministry on Monday deplored the decision by Banja Luka city authorities, saying that "it glorifies a terrorist act by a person who, during the Great Serbian aggression against Croatia, knowingly caused the death of a large number of Croatian defenders and civilians and huge material destruction in Bjelovar."

The ministry said the Banja Luka city authorities thus "identify themselves with the criminal Great Serbian policy" and jeopardize "the process of building mutual trust and good neighborly relations."

Streets in many Serbian towns have been named after Tepić and in September 2017 a monument was unveiled to him in Belgrade.

Serbia's former foreign minister and now Parliament Speaker, Ivica Dačić, said at the time that "as a JNA officer, Tepić, "who had pledged allegiance to the state and answered for the lives of the young men in his unit, personified honor and integrity."

The unveiling of the plaque in Banja Luka was also condemned by the Croatian War Veterans Ministry, which said that the city authorities have thus confirmed that they promote the Great Serbian ideology.

For more, check out our dedicated politics section.

Saturday, 1 January 2022

Highlights of Major Events in Croatia's Foreign Affairs in 2021

ZAGREB, 1 January 2021 - Entry into the U.S visa waiver program, French President Emmanuel Macron's visit, and the Rafale jets purchase deal, the fulfillment of the criteria for the Schengen Area, and diplomatic efforts to help solve the Bosnia and Herzegovina crisis are major features of Croatia's diplomacy in 2021.

In the year which will be remembered for global travel restrictions due to the COVID pandemic, Croatia entered the Visa Waiver Program (VWP), which makes it possible for Croatians to travel to the United States for business or tourism purposes without visas, after obtaining approval via the online Electronic System for Travel Authorization, or ESTA.

Croatia formally entered the VWP on 23 October, after meeting strict conditions.

For a country to enter the VWP, it must meet criteria regarding the fight against terrorism, law enforcement, immigration, document security, and border management, and the percentage of rejected visa applications must be below 3%, which Croatia met only recently.

EU says Croatia fulfills conditions for the application of Schengen acquis

On 9 December, EU member states agreed on the text of draft conclusions confirming that Croatia has fulfilled the necessary conditions for the application of the Schengen acquis, which paves the way for a final decision on accession to the area without internal border controls.

The final decision could be adopted in about six months during the French EU Presidency. It requires the consent of all Schengen member states.

Also, as of 1 January 2022, Croatian nationals will have the same status as citizens of other European Union member states on the Swiss labor market, which will provide fresh impetus to Croatian-Swiss relations, it was said at a meeting of the two countries foreign ministers in Bern on 23 November 2021.

Macron's visit, Rafale purchase

In 2021, Emmanuel Macron visited Croatia as the first French president to pay an official visit to Zagreb since the country gained independence.

During his stay in Zagreb on 25 November, a deal was signed on the purchase of 12 Dassault Rafale F3R used multipurpose fighter jets - ten single-seats and two two-seaters - for €999 million, to be paid in five installments from 2022 to 2026.

Macron said in Zagreb that he supported Croatia's entry into the passport-free Schengen Area and added that Croatia had implemented all the necessary reforms for its entry into the euro area.

The French head of state and Prime Minister Andrej Plenković signed a strategic partnership declaration.

In October, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez visited Zagreb as the first Spanish head of government to visit Croatia.

On 8 July, European Commission President Ursula von der Layen arrived in Zagreb to convey the Commission's approval for Croatia's recovery and resilience plan (NPOO), worth €6.3 billion, which could significantly boost the country's Gross Domestic Product and create 21,000 new jobs by 2026.

Under the EU Recovery and Resilience Facility, Croatia has €6.3 billion in grants and 3.6 billion in favorable loans at its disposal.

On 6 July, Seychellois Foreign Minister Sylvester Radegonde arrived in Zagreb and opened an honorary consulate.

In September, Montenegrin President Milo Đukanović was in Zagreb for an official visit and after his talks with his Croatian host, Zoran Milanović, Đukanović warned that "Serbian world" is a euphemism for Great Serbia policy.

Crisis in Bosnia and Herzegovina

During their bilateral meetings with their counterparts in 2021, Croatia's diplomats raised the issue of the situation in the southeast of Europe, particularly Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Croatia's diplomatic offensive was launched in 2021 ahead of the election year in Bosnia and Herzegovina. In October 2022, Bosnia and Herzegovina are due to hold general elections. Election reform is needed before that and negotiations on it are currently underway.

The Croats, one of the three constituent peoples in the country, want to avoid a repeat of the scenario in which Bosniaks actually elect senior officeholders who are supposed to represent the Croats, the least numerous constituent people.

The crisis is further deepened by the Serb representative in Bosnia's three-member presidency, Milorad Dodik, who is implementing "a creeping" secession of the country's Serb entity.

In March 2021, Croatia's Foreign and European Affairs Minister, Gordan Grlić Radman, outlined Croatia's non-paper for its southeastern neighbor. The paper, which was also supported by EU member-states Slovenia, Hungary, Bulgaria, Greece, and Cyprus, highlights the importance of adhering to the principle of the three constituent peoples.

Throughout 2021, some of the political actors in Sarajevo accused Zagreb of trying to violate the sovereignty of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Željko Komšić, who sits on the BiH Presidency as the Croat representative although he won the post thanks to the votes of Bosniak voters, accused Zagreb of the construction of a gas pipeline under the River Sava to connect Slavonski Brod and Bosanski Brod in the Serb entity. Some politicians in Sarajevo also disapproved of Zagreb's decision to declare an exclusive economic zone in the Adriatic.

In July, Zagreb Mufti Aziz Hasanović said that current bilateral relations between Croatia and Bosnia were worse than during the Croat-Bosniak conflict in the 1992-1995 war.

However, visiting Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said in Sarajevo on 13 December that the bonds between Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina are unbreakable and that Croatia remains Bosnia and Herzegovina's greatest friend and advocate in the European Union.

At the end of the year, on 19 December, President Zoran Milanović's visit to central Bosnia was canceled for security reasons against a background of discussions provoked by Milanović's comments on the application of the term genocide for the atrocities committed by Bosnian Serb forces in Srebrenica in July 1995. Bosniak politicians bear a grudge against Milanović who in return calls them unitarianists.

The issue of protection of the status of the Croats in Bosnia and Herzegovina has become another bone of contention between Milanović and Plenković, with Milanović resenting the government's failure to make sure the Council of the EU conclusions on enlargement incorporate the term "constituent peoples" in the Bosnia and Herzegovina section of the document.

Relations with Serbia

Tensions in relations between Zagreb and Belgrade traditionally become heightened in August when Croatia celebrates Victory Day in memory of the 1995 Operation Storm when Croatia's military and police forces liberated a majority of areas held by Serb rebels since 1992.

This year, things got worse in September when Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić called on all Serbs to display the Serbian flag on Serbian Unity, Freedom, and National Flag Day, observed for the first time this year, on 15 September.

However, Croatian Serb leader Milorad Pupovac called on ethnic Serbs to respect the laws in Croatia which ban the display of foreign countries' flags by individuals.

For us it was important to make it clear in which circumstances individuals in Croatia and individuals in Serbia could display flags of other countries. It is important for us that the Serbs in Croatia can be sure that they can display their ethnic flag on holidays concerning their institutions or on important holidays on official events, Pupovac said at the time.

Also, relations between the two countries were adversely affected by the decision of the city council in Subotica, where Vučić's Serb Progressive Party holds a majority, to declare the Bunjevci dialect an official language in that northern Serbian city despite opposition from the Croat community in Vojvodina and from Croatia.

The demand for declaring its speech an official language in Subotica was made by the Bunjevci community, which denies its Croat ethnic background.

The initiative was strongly opposed by the DSHV party of local Croats, the Croatian National Council in Serbia, the Croatian Language Institute, and other Croatian science institutions, and it prompted the Croatian Foreign Ministry to send two protest notes to Serbia.

They all say there is no legal basis for the initiative and that the Bunjevci speech is a dialect of the Croatian community in Vojvodina's northern region of Bačka and not a standard language.

Furthermore, in October Plenković asked Vučić to address the issue of Serbian grammar books that negate the existence of the Croatian language.

No progress has been made in the provision of information by Serbia about sites of mass graves from the 1991-95 war.

Relations with Slovenia at the highest level ever

Croatia's political leaders have underscored that the Zagreb-Ljubljana relations are at the highest level ever. Plenković and his Slovenian counterpart Janez Janša seem willing to settle all the bilateral issues.

The friendship between the two neighbors was evidenced by ceremonies held on 18 October when the two presidents, Milanović and Borut Pahor, unveiled a monument to a leader of the Croatian National Revival, Ljudevit Gaj, in Ljubljana and to a Slovenian poet, France Prešeren, in Zagreb's Bundek Park.

Croatia and Italy declared exclusive economic zones in the Adriatic, and they included Slovenia in the process.

In February, the Croatian parliament proclaimed an exclusive economic zone in the Adriatic, giving Croatia additional rights in relation to the Ecological and Fisheries Protection Zone declared in 2003 to build artificial islands and exploit the sea, wind, and currents in that zone in line with the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.

Concerning Croatia-Hungary relations, the most important event was the ruling of Croatia's Supreme Court upholding the guilty verdict against Hungarian executive Zsolt Hernadi in a graft scandal implicating former Croatian Prime Minister Ivo Sanader and business relations between MOL and INA. Croatia's Justice Minister Ivan Malenica expects Budapest to extradite Hernadi who was given two years for white-collar crimes.

Frictions in relations with Bulgaria and Austria

Milanović's criticism of how Bulgaria treats North Macedonia on its journey towards the European Union prompted the Bulgarian government to summon Croatia's ambassador in Sofia in mid-May.

Ambassador Jasna Ognjanovac was summoned at the request of Minister Svetlan Stoev, and was received by the Director-General for European Affairs, Rumen Alexandrov.

The reason for the meeting was Milanović's statement after a summit of the Brdo-Brijuni Process at Brdo Pri Kranju, in which he sharply criticized Bulgaria's policy towards the European integration of North Macedonia. Milanović warned that North Macedonia "is in an impossible position" and that one EU member state demanded that North Macedonia "define its national genesis in the way requested by the neighboring state" in history textbooks. He said that he would "openly oppose" that within his powers.

His statement was an allusion to Bulgaria, which is rejecting a negotiating framework for North Macedonia because, as Sofia claims, North Macedonian textbooks "revise and negate their common ethnic and linguistic history."

Milanović's comments on Austria's decision to lock down unvaccinated persons prompted Vienna to summon Croatian Ambassador Danijel Glunčić.

Glunčić declined to reveal details of the discussion but according to a statement from the Austrian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Glunčić was called over "highly unusual statements by the Croatian president," which were "sharply rejected".

"Comparing the measures against the coronavirus pandemic to fascism is unacceptable. It is our responsibility to protect the citizens of Austria and we are acting accordingly," the Austrian ministry said, as quoted by APA news agency.

Austrian media quoted the Croatian president as saying after an audience with Pope Francis in the Vatican that the Austrian decision to impose a lockdown on unvaccinated people was "reminiscent of the 1930s" and called it foolish. On 22 November, the Croatian President's foreign affairs advisor, Neven Pelicarić, held talks with Austrian Ambassador Josef Markus Wuketich. Earlier that day, President Milanović said in the town of Našice that he had apologized for his statement.

"I said that what was happening in Austria reminded me of fascism. I apologize," Milanović said in a statement to the press.

For more on politics, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Monday, 13 December 2021

Catholic and Islamic Dignitaries Thank Croatian PM for Help to BiH

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For more, check out our dedicated politics section.

Monday, 13 December 2021

Croatia PM: BiH Crisis Should Be Solved Through Agreement, Starting With Election Law

ZAGREB, 13 Dec 2021 - Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said on Monday the crisis in Bosnia and Herzegovina should be solved through talks and agreements based on the Dayton peace agreement which, he added, would defuse tensions and ensure equal rights for all its inhabitants.

He was speaking to the press in Sarajevo after meeting with the leaders of both houses of the BiH Parliament, including HDZ BiH party president Dragan Čović and SDA president Bakir Izetbegović.

Plenković said that as a friendly country with great respect for BiH, Croatia wants to advance cooperation through political dialogue in order to support reforms leading to EU membership and to help BiH catch up with its neighbors on the EU journey.

He said Croatia would like electoral law changes to satisfy all three constituent peoples and for Croats, as the smallest people, to be equal.

If such changes were made, Plenković said, the relations within the Federation entity would relax, and "the gentlemen's agreement between Bosniaks and Croats" would contribute to better relations with the Serbis and all government bodies would start functioning.

The European reform processes could resume as soon as the current crisis ended, he added.

Responsibility for such an agreement is solely on the political parties in BiH and its institutions, he said, adding that it is necessary to have a feeling for nuance and reality.

"Izetbegović understands that too. There are different models and solutions, but it's important to keep the letter and spirit of Dayton which, until 2006, was never in question," Plenković said, implying that the election of Željko Komšić to the BiH Presidency has undermined the substance of the peace agreement.

Responding to questions from the press, Plenković said that as far as he knew, EU bodies were not preparing to deploy European troops in BiH and that this was rather the stand of some MEPs.

The stand-in the EU is to condemn all actions leading to new tensions in BiH and that the Dayton agreement must be honored, he added.

It was Greens MEP Thomas Waitz who said in Sarajevo that the EU stood ready to deploy up to 6,000 troops in case the crisis escalated.

His colleague Romeo Franz, head of the European Parliament delegation on relations with BiH, said today this body was following with great concern the secessionist threats coming from the Bosnian Serb entity.

That poses a big danger to peace in BiH as well as all of Europe, he told the press after meeting with BiH MPs which was not attended by those from the Serb entity, who refuse to communicate with Greens representatives.

Franz said their group expects High Representative Christian Schmidt to react if necessary by using his broad powers, adding that he will insist in the European Parliament on urgent sanctions against all those in BiH who jeopardize its peace and stability.

After talks with representatives of the executive and legislative branches, the Croatian prime minister laid a wreath at the monument to the first victims of the siege of Sarajevo during the 1992-1995 war.

For more, check out our dedicated politics section.

Monday, 13 December 2021

Plenković: Bosnia and Herzegovina Has No Greater Friend Than Croatia

ZAGREB, 13 Dec 2021 - Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said during a visit to Sarajevo on Monday that the bonds between Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina are unbreakable and that Croatia remains Bosnia and Herzegovina's greatest friend and its advocate in the European Union.

Plenković is leading a government delegation on an official visit to Bosnia and Herzegovina. On arriving in Sarajevo on Monday morning, he met with his counterpart, the Chairman of the Council of Ministers, Zoran Tegeltija, and his ministers.

The visit comes at a time when Bosnia and Herzegovina is facing the biggest internal crisis since the 1992-1995 war caused by the attempts of the Bosnian Serb authorities to separate the Republika Srpska entity from the country's constitutional and legal system.

Speaking to the press after the meeting between the two government delegations, Plenković said that Croatia is closely following developments in Bosnia and Herzegovina and that his message is that Croatia is a friend and partner seeking to promote cooperation with Bosnia and Herzegovina and support its territorial integrity and the equality of its two entities and three constituent peoples.

"We would like the institutions of Bosnia and Herzegovina to be functioning," Plenković said.

Commenting on last week's conclusions by the Republika Srpska parliament that laid the ground for repealing some of the important state-level laws, the Croatian prime minister said it is yet to be seen to what extent this is a maneuver and to what extent it is the actual wish of the Bosnian Serb authorities to endanger the existence of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Plenković said that Croatia by no means wants to see any separatist tendencies in Bosnia and Herzegovina and expects full compliance with the Dayton peace agreement, which ended the country's 1992-1995 war. He noted that Croatia is one of its signatories and that its late president Franjo Tuđman was one of its authors.

The Croatian PM added that it is very important for Croatia to see that the Croats, as the smallest of the three constituent peoples, have all their rights guaranteed, including a new election law that should be the result of an internal agreement. He said that he expects this to happen no later than May next year when a general election is to be called.

"We are not pleased with the practice that has existed since 2006 and that represents an obstacle to institutional cooperation between Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina," Plenković said, alluding to the fact that there have been no high-level meetings between the two countries for years because Croatia does not recognize the legitimacy of Željko Komšić as the Croat member of the Bosnia and Herzegovina Presidency.

Asked whether he has come to "iron out" the relationship between the countries following reactions to statements by Croatian President Zoran Milanović, including one in which he downplayed the Srebrenica genocide, Plenković said there is no need for such an intervention because the two countries have a good relationship and Croatia's position on the Srebrenica genocide was and remains clear.

The Croatian PM reaffirmed Croatia's readiness to assist Bosnia and Herzegovina in Euro-Atlantic integration, improve economic cooperation, and work on improving infrastructure and energy connectivity.

He noted the importance of the construction of the motorway along the pan-European corridor Vc and the connection of the two countries' natural gas networks via Zagvozd to Posušje in the south. He added that diversification of supply sources has become very important and that this will pave the way for gas delivery from the LNG terminal on the northern Adriatic island of Krk.

Plenković estimated this year's trade between the two countries at over €2 billion.

Tegeltija said he shared Plenković's view that the constituent peoples should have their legitimate representatives in government, adding that "someone is now trying to shirk the agreement in principle that was reached" during negotiations on new election rules for the southern city of Mostar. He said it would not be good for next year's election to be held according to the present rules.

Tegeltija said that Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia have good economic and political relations "despite attempts by individuals to portray them differently."

Speaking of unresolved issues, he cited the status of property owned by citizens of the two countries, arbitration over the Gacko thermal power plant, the agreement on borders, and Croatia's plan to build a radioactive waste disposal facility on Mount Trgovska Gora near the border with Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Tegeltija said his personal opinion is that Croatia should look for another location for radioactive waste disposal, while Plenković said that there is continued dialogue on the matter and that there is no reason for safety concerns about the Trgovska Gora site.

Plenković continued his visit to Sarajevo by meeting with the speakers of both chambers of the state parliament, after which he is scheduled to lay a wreath at the monument to the first victims of the siege of Sarajevo during the 1992-1995 war. Before traveling to Mostar, he is due to meet separately with the leaders of the three largest religious communities in the country.

For more, check out our dedicated politics section.

Monday, 22 November 2021

Croatian Embassy Condemns Izetbegović's Statement

ZAGREB, 22 Nov 2021 - Croatia's Embassy in Sarajevo on Monday condemned statements by Bosniak leader Bakir Izetbegović bringing into question the historical identity of the constituent peoples of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The embassy's statement was a response to speeches which Izetbegović, leader of the Bosniak Party of Democratic Action (SDA), made at functions organized by expats in Germany last week.

The embassy points to Izetbegović's misuse of historical terms for what it describes as petty political purposes and in a bid to erode the identity of the Croats in Bosnia and Herzegovina as the least numerous constituent people in the country.

During the events, organized by Bosniak expat communities, Izetbegović said, according to reports in local media outlets, that all people in Bosnia and Herzegovina "are the descendants of the good Bošnjans, that is Bogomils", a reference to members of the Christian neo-Gnostic or dualist sect in Bosnia in the early Middle Ages. He went on to say that it was only in the more recent time that those people were divided along ethnic and religious lines by political forces.

Izetbegović also insisted that there was sufficient evidence that in the Middle Ages residents of Bosnia were members of the Orthodox or Catholic Church but that they were not Serbs or Croats, especially not in the present-day meaning of those terms.

The Croatian embassy recalls that the Constitution of Bosnia and Herzegovina recognizes three constituent peoples: the Bosniaks, the Croats and the Serbs.

Officials of Bosnia and Herzegovina, a country aspiring to become a candidate for EU membership, are expected to show commitment to European values, including the principle of equality and preservation of the different national identities of the three constituent peoples, says the embassy.

The Croatian National Council, an umbrella association of Croat parties and societies in Bosnia and Herzegovina, has already condemned Izetbegović's statements that the HDZ BiH party "will get nothing" if its leader Dragan Čović does not accept compromises concerning amendments to the country's election legislation.

The HNS BiH has accused Izetbegović of behaving like an Ottoman Turkish bey.

"This does not pave the way to any compromise. Bosnia and Herzegovina is not a private land owned by a bey. Representation of the constituent peoples... is a constitutional category confirmed by all the rulings of the Constitutional Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the European Court of Human Rights," the HNS BiH said.

For more on politics, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Wednesday, 27 October 2021

Milanović Meets with Dodik

ZAGREB, 27 Oct 2021 - Croatian President Zoran Milanović on Tuesday held talks with Milorad Dodik, the representative of the Serb people in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the president's office said in a press release.

The meeting with the Serb member of the tripartite BiH Presidency was part of Milanović's activities that are aimed at achieving the stability and functioning of BiH as well as the legitimate representation of all three constituent peoples in line with the Dayton peace agreement, the press release said.

For that purpose, the president already met with Bakir Izetbegović, the representative of the Bosniak people, and with Dragan Čović, the representative of the Croat people, it added.

For more, follow our politics section.

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