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.

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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.

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Monday, 25 October 2021

Croatian Embassy Sharply Condemns Attacks on Croat Symbols in Bosnia

ZAGREB, 25 Oct 2021 - The Croatian Embassy in Bosnia and Herzegovina on Monday strongly condemned the frequent attacks on Croatian symbols in that country and warned that these are serious incidents that authorities in the country must not ignore as they create feelings of fear and insecurity.

After a monument to killed soldiers of the Croatian Defence Forces (HVO) had been desecrated in Vitez over the weekend, the embassy today issued a statement to condemn in the strongest terms the incident and underscore that the Vitez case, as well as another recent incident against the Catholic church in Bihać, are just two in a series of similar worrisome cases.

"This vandalic act, and recent threats to Croatian political representatives in Bugojno and the violent tearing down of the Croatian flag in Bugojno and Vareš, comprise serious incidents directed against the Croatian people in Bosnia and Herzegovina," the statement says noting that attacks on Croatian premises and symbols create fear and distrust and must not be ignored." "Hence the Embassy of Croatia calls on the highest competent institutions in Bosnia and Herzegovina to condemn these incidents, and to shed light on their background and punish those responsibly," the statement said.

The Embassy recalled that the Croatian state wishes to be a sincere friend and is committed to all efforts to support that country on its European and Euro-Atlantic journey, to guarantee the equality of all three constituent peoples and all citizens, and to strengthen the respect of coexistence, tolerance, and rule of law.

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Thursday, 30 September 2021

Svilaj Bridge Within Pan-European Vc Corridor to Open Today

ZAGREB, 30 Sept 2021 - Svilaj Bridge across the River Sava connecting Svilaj in Croatia with Donji Svilaj in Bosnia and Herzegovina will formally open today, and this 660-meter-long structure is located along the strategically important international Vc corridor.

The 29-meter-wide bridge with six lanes is on the pan-European Vc corridor route between Budapest via Osijek and Sarajevo to the Croatian seaport in Ploče.

In mid-June this year, Croatian Transport Minister Oleg Butković said that the project was worth €23.4 million.

This is a joint investment of Croatia's HAC motorway operator and the relevant authorities in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the project was financed by Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina at a ratio of 50:50 with 58% of Croatia's share part being covered by EU funds from the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF).

Butković said in June that Croatia ensured a grant amounting to almost €7 million from the Connecting Europe Facility for its half (€11.7 million).

"This corridor is very important. We are completing the (motorway) section to Beli Manastir which will be finished next year and opened to traffic. We have just a few kilometers left to reach the border with Hungary and we expect to complete that by the end of 2023," said Butković on 15 June. He added that Croatia would do everything to have the procedure of categorizing the border crossing at Svilaj finished so that the bridge could be opened to traffic as soon as possible.

The construction of the bridge started in 2016 and was completed in 2020.

In attendance at today's red-ribbon cutting ceremony will be European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković, and Bosnia and Herzegovina's Prime Minister Zoran Tegeltija.

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Sunday, 8 August 2021

Milanović Calls Bosnian Prosecution’s Letter of Request Sabotage

ZAGREB, 8 Aug, 2021 - President Zoran Milanović said on Sunday that a conclusion on non-cooperation in proceedings against Croatian military commanders adopted six years ago was still in force and that a letter of request from the Bosnian Prosecutor's Office was sabotage and a poisoning of relations.

The Croatian Justice Ministry has confirmed receiving the letter from the Bosnian Prosecutor's Office to take over the prosecution of 14 Croatian Army generals suspected by Bosnia and Herzegovina of war crimes allegedly committed during the 1995 Operation Flash.

Speaking to the press in Sinj ahead of the 306th Sinjska Alka lancing tournament, Milanović said the technical problem of "will we cooperate or not" was much smaller than the fact that such indictments were arriving and that such investigations were being conducted.

He said he had known about the indictments for some time and that Prime Minister Andrej Plenković did too, but would not say why he had communicated that in public instead of the government.

Milanović said the no-cooperation conclusion he adopted as prime minister at a cabinet meeting in 2015 was valid until the incumbent government revoked or changed it. "Perhaps the prime minister, keeping that in mind, didn't think it necessary to comment on it, but I find it necessary, because it's a sort of sabotage."

"It's a poisoning of relations between two states," he added.

Milanović also commented on the national COVID crisis management team's rejection of Sinj Mayor Miro Bulj's request for a relaxation of COVID rules on the day of the Alka tournament.

"The fact is that there are 500 of us here without any supervision. On the other hand, it's not bad for the measures to last a few more weeks for the sake of the impression Croatia leaves because of the tourist season. There are many illogical and silly things about this in all of Europe and we have to fit in a little. I'd be patient a while longer."

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Sunday, 8 August 2021

Bosnia Wants Croatia To Prosecute Operation Flash Commanders

ZAGREB, 8 Aug, 2021 - The Croatian Justice Ministry has confirmed receiving a letter of request from the Bosnian Prosecutor's Office to take over the prosecution of 14 Croatian Army generals suspected by Bosnia and Herzegovina of war crimes allegedly committed during the 1995 Operation Flash.

This was confirmed by the ministry's state-secretary, Josip Salapić, to Nova TV on Saturday evening.

He said the ministry would forward the cases to the State Attorney's Office, which would decide in an independent investigation what to do about them.

"We are confident that in the next few days, the State Attorney's Office, in line with the law, will inform the public as to what exactly this is about," he added.

"The historical facts about the Homeland War, all our liberation operations, all our soldiers, the army, are under special protection and a special national interest. As a responsible state and government, we can't allow the Homeland War to be criminalised nor bringing into question any legal, constitutional and internationally legal Croatian Armed Forces military operation in the liberation of Croatian territory," said Salapić.

According to Nova TV, the Bosnian Prosecutor's Office list names 14 senior Croatian officers, including wartime commander generals Pavao Miljavac, Mladen Markač, Marijan Mareković, Davor Domazet Lošo and Luka Džanko, as well as deceased generals Petar Stipetić, Imra Agotić and Ivan Basarac.

"I heard it's about Flash, but I have no idea what the war crime would be. In Flash, we didn't cross the Croatian border," said retired general Vinko Vrbanac.

Miljavac said Flash "was a legitimate Croatian Army operation and there were no special intentions to endanger BiH."

"They are getting into what they shouldn't be. We helped them a lot and when they needed it most, and they should be grateful for everything the Croatian Army did to help the neighbouring BiH," said Džanko, adding that this "is all orchestrated."

"This is all hear-say. In my opinion, it's even politically motivated given Croatia's initiative to help Croats in BiH a little. Even the Pelješac Bridge," Miljavac said, adding, "I know about these indictments, they are 15 years old. Why now?"

President Zoran Milanović said on Thursday those were unproven acts and that Croatia would protect its wartime commanders.

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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.

Thursday, 22 July 2021

€3.3m Provided by Croatia for Projects of Bosnia and Herzegovina Croats in 2021

ZAGREB, 22 July 2021 - The Croatian government on Thursday endorsed a decision on the distribution of 25 million kuna of aid for projects important for the Croatian people in Bosnia and Herzegovina in 2021.

The state-secretary of the central office for the Croats abroad, Zvonko Milas, informed the Plenković cabinet about the distribution of the funds.

An interdepartmental task force for coordination of financial support for cultural, educational, scientific, healthcare, and other programs in the interest of Bosnia and Herzegovina Croats in 2021, thus decided that HRK 25 million would be distributed to cover 79 programs and projects this year.

 A healthcare center in Kiseljak, a center for children with disabilities in Grude, the construction of a sports hall in Kupres, the reconstruction of a library in Kaonik,  the project of construction of a water supply network in Domaljevac, the reconstruction of a town hall in Odžak, the reconstruction of a culture center in Stolac, and the film festival "Ivo Gregurović" in Orašje are some of the projects which would be co-funded by the Croatian government.

This year's allocation of the Bosnia and Herzegovina Croatas' programs is by 3.5 million kuna higher than last year.

(€1 = HRK 7.5)

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Monday, 19 July 2021

Mufti Hasanović: Croatia-Bosnia Relationship Worse Than in War

ZAGREB, 19 July 2021 - The relationship between Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina is currently worse than it was during the war of the 1990s, and this situation will not change without a sincere dialogue, the Mufti of Zagreb, Aziz Hasanović, warned in a newspaper interview on Monday.

Speaking with the Sarajevo-based Dnevni Avaz daily, Hasanović said that the Bosniaks in Croatia enjoy all human rights and that the agreement which the Islamic community signed with Croatia in 2002 can be used as a model for all minority communities in Europe.

But all this is not enough if the relationship between Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia is bad, he said, adding that this makes him unhappy.

"It is worse now than it was during the war. The present communication, without going into who is right and who is wrong, is not good. We need to talk," the mufti said.

Hasanović said that the Bosniaks make up 75 percent of the Islamic community in Croatia, they are emotionally tied to Bosnia and Herzegovina and any negative statements hurt them.

He said that dialogue is imperative and that people who make public statements that worsen relations between the peoples of Bosnia and Herzegovina should bear this in mind. "I also tell this to politicians here who have this militant or ignorant narrative," he added, warning that the present situation could have dangerous consequences in the future.

Hasanović said that the Bosniaks, given their experience in the war, are particularly concerned about the rhetoric of politicians in Bosnia and Herzegovina who downplay the genocide committed at Srebrenica in 1995. He said that their hopes lie with the United States and the European Union, believing that their policies can help make Bosnia and Herzegovina a country acceptable to all its citizens.

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Saturday, 5 June 2021

FM Reiterates Croatia's Commitment as Advocate of Bosnia's EU Journey

ZAGREB, 5 June 2021 - Foreign Minister Gordan Grlić Radman said on Saturday that Croatia was a committed advocate of Bosnia and Herzegovina's journey towards the Euro-Atlantic institutions, and interested in enabling Croats to have an equal status with the other two constituent peoples in that country.

Addressing a conference organised in Split on the occasion of the launch of a four-volume book written by Bosnian Croat leader, Dragan Čović, the Croatian minister of foreign and European affairs said that the book testified about Čović's political struggle ad also about economic, media and diplomatic aspects of the fight for the Croatian cause.

Commenting on the developments in the last 26 years since the signing of the Dayton Peace Accords which was co-signed also by Croatia, the minister said that some aberrations, that's disrespect, for the rights had happened.

Some of international diplomats and envoys sent to Bosnia and Herzegovina changed some of the provisions of the agreement to the detriment of Croats in Bosnia and Herzegovina, he added.

A resolution adopted by the Croat National Council (HNS) in Mostar on Friday established that it was necessary to amend the election legislation so as to ensure the legitimate representativeness of Croats at all levels of powers, he recalled.

Outvoting of Croats such was the case in the election of the Croat member of the current presidency (Željko Komšić) was against the spirit and letter of the Dayton Accords, he said.

Being a responsible member of the European Union and NATO Croatia is supposed to inform the international community of the status of the Croats in Bosnia and Herzegovina and about the need to amend the election legislation, as only the equitable election legislation is a guarantee of a stable, functional and prosperous Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Croatian minister said.

The four-volume book titled "Iznad Crte" ("Above the Line" in an unofficial translation"), which was presented today in Split is about the 20-year-long political activities of Čović, who currently serves s the Bosnian House of Peoples' deputy speaker.

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