Saturday, 25 September 2021

Milanović: My Words Will Be Superfluous When Croats Are Equal People in Bosnia

ZAGREB, 25 Sept, 2021 - President Zoran Milanović said on Saturday his statements like the one that he was also the president of Croats not living in Croatia would be "completely or somewhat superfluous" once Croats were able to elect their representative in Bosnia and Herzegovina on their own.

"It's a difficult situation when I have to say that I'm also the president of Croats not living in Croatia, who have the right to vote because they are Croatian citizens. And not just Croats. There are Bosniaks and Serbs in BiH who also have Croatian citizenship. Perhaps they vote, perhaps they don't. When Croats are able to elect their representative in Sarajevo on their own, equally as the other two constituent peoples, then those words of mine will be completely or somewhat superfluous," Milanović told the press in Varaždin.

He was responding to BiH Presidency Chairman Željko Komšić, who said on Thursday that by saying that he was also the president of all Croatian citizens in BiH while Komšić was not, Milanović had surpassed even Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić.

"If you want to chase Croats out of BiH or alienate them from BiH, then you'll deprive them of those fundamental constitutional rights, while simultaneously accusing those who only fight for basic house rules of being destroyers and comparing them with warmongers," Milanović said, adding that "the more Croats insist on that right, the more, more than before, they care about staying there."

Insults from Serbia

Responding to Serbian Interior Minister Aleksandar Vulin's statement earlier this week that Milanović was "one of the stupider Croatian politicians," Milanović said he did not have "my own loudmouths and rabble-rousers who will roundly insult Vučić."

"I'll say some things that are not pleasant in my own words, from my own mouth," he said, wondering "what would happen if I was the smartest" politician in Croatia.

Milanović added that while he did say earlier this week that Vučić was proud of having been a warmonger in the 1990s, he did not call anyone a Chetnik. "I draw the line at such things."

No difference between Scholtz and Laschet

Commenting on Sunday's German election for Chancellor Angela Merkel's successor, he said "nothing will change," whether it was Social Democrat Olaf Scholz or Christian Democrat Armin Laschet.

"It will be the same policy, the same course. More or less the same people will probably stay in foreign affairs as well," he said, adding that "it almost makes no difference, both for Croatia and Europe," who the new German chancellor is.

"They are moderate people... One should expect the continuity of the German policy. The big parties have weakened. A two-party coalition is hardly possible," he said.

No communication on ambassadorial appointments for weeks

Commenting on relations between his office and the government concerning the appointment of ambassadors, Milanović said Foreign Minister Gordan Grlić Radman had begun talks with the head of his office but they stopped.

"Evidently at the same time as the finale of this story with the appointment of the Supreme Court president... Whether there is a causal connection, whether one has been made conditional on the other, I can't claim that."

He said there had been no communication on the appointment of ambassadors, consuls general and consuls for weeks. "Not because of my side. The head of my office is ready to resume those talks today... That's not my decision, but I'm sure it's not Minister Grlić Radman's decision either."

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Thursday, 1 July 2021

Ivo Pilar Social Research Institute Expanding Scientific Cooperation in Sarajevo (BiH)

July 2, 2021 - Dedication to researching and developing the field of social sciences sees the Ivo Pilar Social Research Institute expanding scientific cooperation once again after Željko Holjevac's visit to Sarajevo, in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The Ivo Pilar Social Research Institute, active as always, continues to expand its cooperation on scientifically explain social issues (symbolically noted as 2021 marks 30 years of the Institute).

As reported on their official website, Institute headmaster dr. Željko Holjevac visited Sarajevo, the capital city of the neighboring Bosnia and Herzegovina, from June 21-23.

The main story of that visit was a signed bilateral cooperation agreement between the Ivo Pilar Social Research Institute and the Sarajevo Catholic Faculty. The agreement was signed by Holjevac and Faculty dean dr. Darko Tomašević.

Additionally, Holjevac was at the reception with Vrhbosanski's vice bishop Vinko Puljić.

„They talked about possible shared projects that would be adjusted to the tradition, culture and developing needs of Croats in Bosnia and Herzegovina“, informed Ivo pilar social research Institute.

Croatian Cultural Society Napredak (progress) also met with Holjevac. Napredak soon celebrates 120 years of work and was founded at the start of the 20th century when the famous Croatian social scientist Pilar was active in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Napredak plans various manifestations for their big anniversary, and dr. Holjevac discussed the possible cooperation in organizing an international scientific symposium regarding the identity of Croats in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Ivo Pilar Institute working in full speed

This sort of cooperation in regards to researching the Croatian diaspora in the neighboring country where the Croatian historical role and present is significant is nothing new for the Ivo Pilar Social research Institute.

As TCN reported earlier in May, the Institute, along with scientific partners, organized a conference “Identity of Boka Kotorska Croatians“, and the three-day event gathered crucial scientific institutes in Croatia to the town of Tivat in the Bay of Croatian Saints in Montenegro.

Scientists from the Institute were also active this year as they participated at European Conference For Social Work Research (ECSWR), International Society for Ethnology and Folklore (SIEF) Conference, and also by presenting a book on Croatian Mountain Rescue Service in Gospić, or by presenting book Cultural Identity of Vukovar – Contribution to Investigating Heritage and Successors“ – to list some of the activities TCN reported on throughout 2021.

As 2021 marks the 30th year anniversary of the Ivo Pilar Institute, apart from the aforementioned actions (to which we can include nurturing relations with scientific colleagues in Slovakia or opening a new research office on Vis Island), several more goals were envisioned by the end of the year: to publish the first edition of critical translation for the book „South Slavic (Yugoslav) Question“ by Ivo Pilar from 1918, and to make and publish Pilar's Kaleidoskop of Croatian society.

With the active academic dynamic demonstrated by the Institute, there is no doubt there is enough quality and capacity to achieve these goals. It is only a matter of time in such a busy and productive schedule.

Learn more about Croatian Diaspora on our TC page.

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

Tuesday, 4 May 2021

Dragan Čović For Euractiv: Stop Discrimination Against Minorities And Outvoting of Croats

ZAGREB, 4 May, 2021 - HDZ BiH party leader Dragan Čović on Tuesday called for amending Bosnia and Herzegovina's election law to put an end to discrimination against ethnic minorities, whose members cannot run for the country's top posts, as well as to the outvoting of Croats as the smallest constituent ethnic group.

"It is intolerable that a part of our citizenry, including Roma and Jews, cannot run as candidates for the top state institutions. Creating just and fair solutions to these challenges, including through limited constitutional change, is one of the HDZ's major priorities in the election legislation alternatives we are proposing," the leader of the biggest BiH Croat party says in a commentary published by Euractiv and forwarded to the local media.

Čović notes that this is crucial for the country's progress towards EU membership as is putting an end to the outvoting of Croats.

"It is unconstitutional that the most populous community selects and determines who will represent the smallest constituent community, yet this is what is happening to the Croats and others in Bosnia and Herzegovina...

"We must adjust and reaffirm a power-sharing system in Bosnia Herzegovina that guarantees equal rights and does not discriminate against anyone," says Čović.

"This non-election year provides a chance we cannot afford to miss, in the implementation of electoral, rule of law, and economic reforms necessary for a path forward to EU and NATO membership," says Čović.

The European Court of Human Rights has made several rulings, of which the best known is the ruling in the Sejdić-Finci case, which calls for an end to discrimination against candidates wo do not identify themselves as Bosniaks, Croats or Serbs since they cannot run or be elected to the state presidency and the parliament's upper chamber, called the House of Peoples.

In its ruling of 2016 in the Ljubić case, the BiH Constitutional Court called for changing the election law to prevent the outvoting of constituent ethnic groups in elections for ethnically-designed institutions.

This has caused disputes about changes to the election law that have been going on for several years.

In 2020, Čović and Bosniak SDA party leader Bakir Izetbegović signed two documents on the reform of the election law with the mediation of US, EU and British diplomats, the OSCE Mission and the Office of the High Representative to Bosnia and Herzegovina.

One of the documents refers to ensuring conditions for local elections in Mostar and the other to changes to the election law to implement rulings of the European Court of Human Rights and enable legitimate political representation for the three constituent peoples in line with the BiH Constitutional Court ruling in the Ljubić case.

For more about Croats in BiH, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Sunday, 16 February 2020

Komšić Meets Pope Francis, Vatican to Continue Supporting Bosnia as Multi-Ethnic Country

ZAGREB, February 16, 2020 - The Croat member of Bosnia and Herzegovina's (BiH) tripartite Presidency and its current chair, Željko Komšić, on Saturday had an audience with Pope Francis during which the current situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the status of the Church in the country were discussed, the BiH Presidency said.

Komšić also met separately with the Holy See's Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin.

The Vatican will continue providing constructive political support to Bosnia and Herzegovina as a multi-ethnic country and it will continue supporting its bid to join Euro-Atlantic associations, it was said at the meeting between Komšić and the pope.

Komšić told the pope that for Bosnia and Herzegovina the only solution was its membership in NATO and the EU.

Confirmed at the talks was the need to ensure respect for the basic human rights of all BiH citizens.

Komšić and Pope Francis also discussed common interests on the regional and international fronts such as peace and security, support for dialogue and responding to challenges faced by Western Balkan countries.

Komšić and Parolin discussed the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the region and the ratification and implementation of the Basic Agreement between Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Holy See, signed in 2007.

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

Thursday, 12 December 2019

44 Polling Stations to Be Set up in Bosnia for Croatia's Presidential Vote

ZAGREB, December 12, 2019 - Croatian nationals living in Bosnia and Herzegovina will be able to cast their ballots at the 22 December presidential election at 44 polling stations in Bosnia, the Croatian embassy in Sarajevo said on Thursday.

The polling stations will be set up on the compounds of the embassy and consulates.

The highest number of polling stations, 19, will be set up on the compounds of the consulate-general in Mostar.

As many as 10 polling stations will be opened in Vitez, central Bosnia, where the Croatian consulate will again serve as a polling place.

In the capital city of Sarajevo, Croatians will be able to cast their ballots at six polling stations.

In the southwestern town of Livno, there will be four and in the north-eastern city of Tuzla three polling stations for the Croatian presidential vote.

In Banja Luka, two polling stations will be set up.

Croatian citizens with permanent residence in Bosnia and Herzegovina are eligible to cast their ballots at those places.

Also, Croatians with permanent residence in Croatia, who happen to be in Bosnia and Herzegovina on the election day, are eligible to vote in Bosnia and Herzegovina, provided they have the necessary documents enabling them to vote outside of the place of their permanent residence.

More news about presidential elections can be found in the Politics section.

Wednesday, 27 November 2019

Croatian President Campaigns for Re-Election in Bosnia and Herzegovina

ZAGREB, November 27, 2019 - Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović said on Wednesday in Mostar, which she visited during her campaign, that care for Croats in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) would continue to be an important plank of her state policy.

In that southern city in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Croatian president promised that she would continue to advocate the achievement of full equality of the Croatian people, including their possibility to elect their own political representatives without being outvoted.

"The thing that is and will remain to be my state policy is care for Croats in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The Croatians have two homelands - the Republic of Croatia, and Bosnia and Herzegovina. And that is why I will not stop until Croats in Bosnia and Herzegovina are provided with the rights they are entitled to historically, politically and under the country's constitution - and that is full equality and achieving their rights as a constituent people," said Grabar-Kitarović, addressing a conference on the anniversary of the establishment of the 'Prsten' Association of Bosnia-Herzegovina Croats with its headquarters in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

She said that it was necessary to prevent scenarios in which the more numerous peoples can impose their representatives on Croats in elections.

"No one else should be allowed to elect representatives for the Croatian people in BiH. They are deluding themselves if they think that Croats will bend and disappear from Bosnia and Herzegovina. No, they won't! With your help I will continue to be a guarantee that there will be no more ignoring of Croats in BiH which had happened in 15 years during the term of my two predecessors," she underscored.

Grabar-Kitarović called on Croatian business people to invest in Bosnia and Herzegovina and help stop the emigration of young people from the country.

"That is why in fact, I am encouraging Croatian entrepreneurs to turn to investments in BiH, to establish new companies and to launch new investments so that our young people can be given a job and keep living here," she added.

Grabar-Kitarović in particular underlined the significance of the Prsten association which was established by Croats from Bosnia and Herzegovina in an effort to preserve tradition and values and at the same time to assist their compatriots in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

During its 14 years of existence, the Prsten association, which has 3,500 member and 200 entrepreneurs, has set aside 15 million kuna in aid for institutions, and Croats in Bosnia and Herzegovina as well as an additional 3.5 million kuna for scholarships for poor students.

The Croatian president is due to stop in Skopaljska Gračanica near Bugojno and Vitez on her campaign trail in Bosnia and Herzegovina on Wednesday afternoon.

The incumbent president's candidacy for her second term is supported by the ruling Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) and a few more political parties in Croatia.

More news about presidential elections can be found in the Politics section.

Saturday, 2 November 2019

Croat Houses Will Not Be Demolished for Bosnian Motorway

ZAGREB, November 2, 2019 - The Bosnian Serb entity's vice-president Josip Jerković, who represents local Croats, said on Friday he had received assurances from the Serb leader Milorad Dodik that the planned route of the future motorway through the area of Modriča would be changed to avoid demolition of Croat houses in three villages.

Jerković told Hina that alterations would be made to the route, which is now planned to pass through the three Croat villages: Garevac, Čardak and Donji Kladari.

The plan to demolish some of the houses of Croat returnees for the purpose of the construction of the future motorway has caused great concern among local villagers and has promoted their representatives as well as Croatia's office-holders to react.

Thus, Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said on Thursday that Croatian authorities would investigate the possibility of changing the route of that motorway to run from Banja Luka to Belgrade whose construction would require the demolition of houses of Croat returnees in the municipality of Modriča in the Bosnian Serb entity of Republika Srpska. The PM said that he would check with the relevant authorities if it was possible to change the set motorway route.

Jerković said today that Dodik informed him about his talks with PM Plenković on Thursday and that Zagreb had requested the change of the route.

During the 1992-95 war in Bosnia and Herzegovina, almost all houses in the Croat-populated villages of Garevac, Čardak and Donji Kladari which had a population of about 8,000, were destroyed and their residents were expelled. when the area was occupied by Bosnian Serb forces.

The process of return was obstructed for years but the most persistent ones managed to rebuild their homes and the community in Garevac today numbers around 150 people.

According to the existing plans, a section of the future Banja Luka - Belgrade motorway is to run through the part of Garevac where there are around 100 houses, of which 80 were rebuilt after the war. This would literally partition the village, with houses that would remain intact staying on one side of the motorway and farmland staying on the other side.

The motorway, to run to the border with Serbia, should connect to the Banja Luka-Doboj section, which has already been built.

The future motorway is not designed the way such roads are usually designed - as the shortest straight line - but at Doboj it turns at the right angle towards the north, in the direction of Garevac, which is only 20 kilometres away from the border with Croatia, and then turns back southwards, towards Bijeljina.

The reason for such a design was evidently to avoid crossing the entity line and build the road exclusively in the territory of the Serb entity, whose borders were defined by the Dayton peace agreement, which did not follow any geographical, transport, business or historical logic.

Expressing support for Croat returnees in the Bosnian Serb entity, Plenković said at the government meeting on Thursday morning that Transport Minister Oleg Butković had recently discussed the matter with the Serb member of the Bosnia and Herzegovina Presidency, Dodik, and that additional political and diplomatic contacts had been established to avoid having to destroy houses in the three Croat villages.

Jerković today said that the change of the route would be enabled thanks to persistent diplomatic activities of Croatia after local Croat representatives warned of the problem.

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

Monday, 28 October 2019

Bosnia’s HDZ to Back Grabar-Kitarović for Croatia’s President

ZAGREB, October 28, 2019 - The leader of the Croatian Democratic Union of Bosnia and Herzegovina (HDZ BH), Dragan Čović, has confirmed that his party will support Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović in her bid for a second term as President of Croatia.

Speaking in an interview with the Sarajevo-based daily Dnevni Avaz of Monday, Čović said that the HDZ BH would support Grabar-Kitarović in the presidential race. "The HDZ BH will join in the election campaign when it formally begins," he said.

Citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina who have dual Bosnian and Croatian citizenship are entitled to vote in presidential and parliamentary elections in Croatia.

Čović said he hoped the forthcoming Croatian presidency of the European Union would help Bosnia and Herzegovina catch up with other countries in the region in their efforts to join the bloc.

"The Croatian presidency of the Union in the first half of next year gives Bosnia and Herzegovina a chance to catch up with Albania and North Macedonia because we have met all the conditions except forming a government," Čović said.

Čović said that in negotiations with the predominantly Bosniak Party of Democratic Action (SDA) he would continue to insist on amending electoral legislation, suggesting as the best solution the election model used by Belgium.

Čović said that his party supported the country's NATO membership bid, but added that one should not insist on it the way the SDA did because this was a process that would not be completed in 20 years' time if it continued at the present pace.

More news about presidential elections can be found in the Politics section.

Sunday, 27 October 2019

Most of Emigrants from Bosnia and Herzegovina Move to Croatia

ZAGREB, October 27, 2019 - Most of the people who have emigrated from Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) have moved to Croatia, the government of the Federation, the Bosniak-Croat entity of Bosnia and Herzegovina, said in a report.

According to the report, at least two million people originating from BiH live abroad, which is 56.5 percent of the country's estimated population of 3.53 million.

Figures for 2017 show that 394,146 people from Bosnia and Herzegovina live in Croatia, 333,687 live in Serbia, and 200,510 in Germany. The countries that follow are Austria, the United States, Slovenia, Switzerland, Sweden and Canada.

The government cited a World Bank report saying that 44.5 percent of people originating from BiH live outside the country. The government says that the discrepancy in figures is due to the fact that the World Bank data cover only the first generation of emigrants from Bosnia and Herzegovina. This puts BiH in 16th place in the world when it comes to the emigration rate compared to the country's population.

The government also cited a 2017 report by Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union, showing that 20,251 citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina had for the first time regulated their stay in EU countries.

The government adopted a strategy under which the institutions of the Federation of BiH were tasked with strengthening ties with the expatriate communities and including them in the social and economic development of the Federation.

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

Friday, 11 October 2019

Most of Croatian Development Aid Directed at SE Europe, Bosnia

ZAGREB, October 11, 2019 - Over 80 percent of Croatia's development aid last year was directed at Southeast Europe, primarily Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Croatian parliament heard on Thursday during the presentation of the report on Croatian development aid to foreign countries in 2017 and 2018.

Croatia's official development aid amounted to 355.26 million kuna in 2017 and 452.63 million kuna in 2018, with multilateral aid accounting for 72 percent, bilateral aid for 23 percent and humanitarian aid for 5 percent, Zdravka Bušić, state secretary at the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs, reported.

Two-thirds of the funds were contributed to the general EU budget for development, and of the remaining funds, the bulk was directed into Southeast Europe and Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bušić said.

Of multilateral contributions, she cited 600,000 euro contributed in the last two years to the European Union Emergency Trust Fund for stability and addressing root causes of irregular migration and displaced persons in Africa, and 50,000 dollars contributed in 2018 to the World Food Programme for famine relief in Yemen.

Bušić said that Croatia was currently allocating 0.1 percent of Gross National Income for aid and the target for new EU member states is 0.33 percent.

Davor Ivo Stier of the ruling Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) said that the bulk of development aid was directed at Bosnia and Herzegovina because the situation there had a direct impact on Croatia's national security. "This is a single geostrategic area where energy, transport and economic connections are necessary," he said.

Stier said that more should be done to help Croats living in Venezuela to return to Croatia.

Joško Klisović of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) said that development aid was not a waste of money but an instrument to achieve national interests. That's why, he said, it was necessary to define more clearly which interests and goals Croatia wished to accomplish by providing development aid.

Vesna Pusić of the Civic Liberal Alliance (GLAS) said that the report showed that official development aid was slowly diminishing because of the 504 projects only 12-15 concerned development aid, while the rest related to support to Croats abroad, mostly those in Southeast Europe and Bosnia and Herzegovina.

"For example, 40 million kuna paid to drug wholesalers for debts, that's not development aid, but aid to the budget. It can be interpreted as aid to the Croats in Bosnia and Herzegovina, but that's not development aid," Pusić said and added that that's why GLAS would not support the report.

More news about foreign policy can be found in the Politics section.

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