Thursday, 23 June 2022

Milanović Seeks EU Membership Candidate Status For Bosnia And Herzegovina

ZAGREB, 23 June 2022- Croatian President Zoran Milanović on Thursday again urged the European Union to grant membership candidate status to Bosnia and Herzegovina.

EU leaders are meeting in Brussels on Thursday for a two-day summit to decide on the membership candidate status for Ukraine and Moldova, for which there is widespread support.

Milanović on Thursday requested the same status for Bosnia and Herzegovina. He has Slovenian President Borut Pahor's strong support for this, and Austria has also joined the initiative.

"We have heard from all member states that Ukraine will get the candidate status, which is fine, but Ukraine, just like Moldova, has some huge problems," Milanović said.

"This is an opportunity to grant Bosnia and Herzegovina the candidate status, as an act of confidence and hope," the Croatian president said, adding that he could not see how anyone could be against it.

For more, check out our politics section.

Friday, 13 May 2022

Milanović Accuses Finland Of Ignoring Croatia's Interests

ZAGREB, 13 May 2022 - President Zoran Milanović on Friday accused Finland of ignoring Croatian interests for years and reiterated that he would continue fighting for the rights of Croats in Bosnia and Herzegovina because he considers that an exceptionally good security reason for Croatia.

Milanović was responding to a question from a Nova TV reporter to comment on the statement by Finnish foreign minister Pekka Haavisto, who had allegedly said that Finland was shocked by the president's statements.

"Welcome to the club, mister foreign minister. We have been shocked for several years already by your ignorance and rudeness," said Milanović in response, noting: "If he really said that."

Milanović added that two days ago, the state secretary of the Finnish ministry of foreign affairs spoke with the associates in his office and that he "didn't say that" then.

In his yesterday's statement to Nova TV, Haavisto didn't mention being "shocked" but he said that he hoped for Croatian solidarity and assistance in their bid to join NATO.

We find it a bit strange that our NATO membership is being connected to something we cannot influence, he said.

Milanović's support for Finland and Sweden's aspirations is conditional on a reform of the election law in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

"We are shocked that they haven't given a damn about us for years. We are shocked that they are treating us as if we were a member of the Arab League, with all due respect, and not a NATO and EU member. We are shocked that we are obstructed every time we put this topic on the agenda and try to turn our attention to it. I am shocked by the behaviour of the Croatian government and Plenković's part of the HDZ," the Croatian president said.

Milanović stressed that he wouldn't give up fighting for the rights of Croats in the neighbouring country. "I have no choice. I must fight for the basic rights of Croats in BiH peacefully. There is no other option," he said.

Croatian Parliament Speaker Gordan Jandroković said on Friday that it wouldn't be wise to block Finland and Sweden on their NATO path and that that would mean working to the benefit of Russia, and Milanović told him "it isn't a matter of wisdom but a matter of national interest."

Finland's state leadership said on Thursday that Finland had to submit a membership application to NATO "without delay," which is a big turnabout in its policy, prompted by the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

"What joining NATO means to Finland at this moment, is what Bosnia and Herzegovina means to us. The difference is in the fact that we have been saying this for several years," said Milanović, dismissing claims that he was catering to Russia.

For more, check out our politics section.

Thursday, 5 May 2022

Milanović Attends Pula City Day Ceremony

ZAGREB, 5 May 2022 - The City of Pula on Thursday marked its day and the 77th liberation anniversary with a City Council session attended by President Zoran Milanović.

Congratulating the people of Pula on their day, he recalled the time when "Croatian Partisans added Istria to Croatia" and Istria, notably Pula, was not populated only by Croats. Tens of thousands of people left Istria, he said.

"In order to be able to morally ask some things from others, we must admit what happened in Istria. I see this level of maturity and honesty in Istria. I'm glad to look at this multiculturalism and this unity, the awareness of one's own shortcomings and omissions, but also the energy and desire to build better, to let go of some things and move on," the president said, urging the people of Istria to absorb as much from EU funds as possible.

"Croatia... now lives the European reality. But Europe is also a Europe of first, second and even third-rank states," he said, adding that one must never consent to that.

"We invested our sovereignty in Europe... That has its price, its moral obligation. As a state, we renounce certain rights... to invest them in a common project, which is Europe, and to get something out of it," Milanović said, adding that "Croatia is taking too little money from the European Union."

The only measure of success of both state and local politics is "solely the success in taking the money that is ours," he said.

"That's the goal we should strive for, that's the key task of Croatian politics. The war in Ukraine won't solve the big problems in any way. I don't like the expression 'that is not our war', but we must watch what we do, say and where we align ourselves and look out for our interests."

For more, check out our politics section

Thursday, 5 May 2022

Čović Calls On Plenković And Milanović To Advocate For Bosnia Croats In EU And NATO

ZAGREB, 5 May 2022 - The president of the Croatian National Council of BiH, Dragan Čović, on Thursday called on Croatia's leaders, while there is still time, to warn the EU and NATO of the threat of the "gross and organised" outvoting of Croats in Bosnia and Herzegovina at October's general elections.

Čović met separately on Wednesday with Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković and President Zoran Milanović. 

Čović appealed to the two officials to additionally raise the issue and warn of the gross and organised outvoting of the Croat people in BiH within the framework of the international associations they belong to - the EU, NATO, and all others - while there is still time for that, HNS BiH said in a press release.

Bosnia and Herzegovina's Central Electoral Commission called general elections for 2 October despite local Croat parties and Zagreb warning that based on the incumbent rules, the more numerous Bosniak people will once again outvote the Croats.

In the past three elections, Bosniak voters elected Željko Komišić as the Croat member of the country's presidency. Bosniak parties have announced that Bosniak voters will elect 6 of the 17 Croat delegates in the Upper House of the Federation entity parliament, which would be sufficient to exclude Croats from the government in that entity and at the state level.

Čović thanked Plenković and the Croatian government for their contribution to efforts to guarantee legitimate representation of the constituent peoples and for advocatingr the equality of Croats and for BiH's European path.

With regard to the meeting with Milanović, HNS BiH said that the need for an urgent agreement on election reforms was underscored and that all Croatian institutions will insist on that.

"Legitimate representation of the constituent peoples must be ensured but also the functionality of institutions in BiH," HNS BiH said in the press release.


For more, check out our politics section.

Tuesday, 3 May 2022

Milanović Says He Will Veto Finland's Admission to NATO

ZAGREB, 3 May 2022 - President Zoran Milanović said on Tuesday that he will veto NATO's invitation to Finland to join the alliance.

"In my capacity as the head of state representing Croatia at the NATO summit, I will veto the invitation, if it is extended at that level," Milanović told the press in Vukovar.

NATO is holding a summit in Madrid later this month.

If the invitation is sent through lower levels, he said he was not sure he would be able to make the Croatian ambassador accept his position and veto the invitation.

Deputy Chairman of the Security Council of the Russian Federation Dmitry Medvedev said in his channel in the Telegram messenger on Monday that Milanović risked Kyiv's retaliation over his views and messages about Russia and Ukraine.

In reference to Medvedev's statement, Milanović said he did not want to "bite that hook", insisting he was not taking Russia's side.

"The Russians are playing their game. They are the aggressor in this war, and we have our own clique  working actively against the interests of the Croats in Bosnia and Herzegovina. I took the oath to protect them, too, and I will die a political death for them, if necessary," said Milanović

Milanović added that he was not afraid either of Russia or of Ukraine, and claimed that he was on the Croatian side and was fighting "for the Croatian state and nation."

"We are being treated like fools and a third-class nation," he said, accusing Prime Minister Andrej Plenković of supporting all that "like a scoundrel".

Milanović reiterated his accusations against the Plenković government, claiming that it was pursuing "a treacherous policy" towards the Croats in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Tuesday, 3 May 2022

Plenković Accuses Milanović, Bridge of Hypocritical Policy Towards Bosnia Croats

ZAGREB, 3 May 2022 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said on Monday evening that President Zoran Milanović and his "supporters" from the Bridge party were pursuing a hypocritical policy aimed at doing harm to the government and to the Croats in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Plenković said that Milanović's proposal that members of the Croatian parliament should vote against the accession of Finland and Sweden to NATO was perfidious.

"He (Milanović) has not said that he will block their accession. He has disseminated a perfidious, even worse claim. It was him who said that he would call MPs traitors and he insisted that the Parliament should block (their accession)," Plenković said explaining "the perfidious situation" created by Milanović.

The PM elaborated that this political game was aimed at destabilising Croatia's institutions, the government, and doing harm to the Croats in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

He also noted that as far as he could see, only Milanović was against Sweden's and Finland's membership of the alliance, while nobody else in NATO supported such idea.

"Such attitude against NATO's expansion is a pro-Russian stance. He is the only one who advocates that. Only those who advocate pro-Russian views can be satisfied with such attitude," Plenković said, recalling Milanović's criticism of Ukraine.

Plenković noted that Milanović's pro-Russian position does harm to Croatia in international circles and also to the Croats in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

As for the election law in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Plenković said that the election system in that country was bad not only for the Croats but also for the whole of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Croatia's government believes that the election law must be amended, he added.

The government works on that consistently, it holds talks with the Bosniaks, the Croats and partners in the international community on that topic, Plenković added.

Saturday, 30 April 2022

Journalists' Association Asks President to Stop Insulting Their Profession

ZAGREB, 30 April 2022 - The Croatian Journalists' Association (HND) on Saturday asked President Zoran Milanović to stop insulting the journalistic profession, saying that his statements about journalists and the media are inappropriate and to be condemned.

The HND commented on Milanović's statement that he did not follow the media. "They follow me, like scabies, like a skin infection... It's awfully bad. The education criterion has declined enormously. It's a totally neglected profession," the president said.

The HND said in a press release that such assessments did not befit the head of state in a democratic society and that they were insulting to all journalists as well as an unacceptable generalisation of a public interest profession.

The HND said numerous governments were responsible for the "devastated" journalistic scene, including Milanović's when he was prime minister, during which the current law on the public broadcaster was adopted, which, the HND said, was having disastrous consequences.

The HND said that over the past 30 years journalists played an important role in uncovering numerous irregularities in society, and criticised the behaviour of the president and the prime minister "in these moments of crisis."

The HND urged Milanović to just answer questions from the press, without belittling and vilifying, reminding him that in his inauguration speech he underlined the importance of protecting and promoting the independence of the media.

The HND reiterated its call on all office holders to just answer questions from the press.

Tuesday, 26 April 2022

Milanović: Finland, Sweden Can't Join NATO Before Bosnia Election Law Changed

ZAGREB, 26 April 2022 - Croatian President Zoran Milanović said on Tuesday that Finland and Sweden could not join NATO before the election law in Bosnia and Herzegovina was changed.

The Croatian parliament "must not ratify anyone's accession to NATO" until that law is changed, he told the press. The accession of Finland and Sweden can be discussed, but it is "a very dangerous adventure," he added.

In the wake of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, next month the two countries will state their wish to join NATO, their media reported yesterday.

Milanović said that formally he could not decide on his own on their accession to NATO but called it "very dangerous charlatanism."

"As far as I'm concerned, let them join NATO... but until the issue of the election law in BiH is solved, until the Americans, the English, the Germans, if they can and want to, force (Bosniak officials) to change the election law in the next six months and give Croats their fundamental rights, the Sabor must not ratify anyone's accession to NATO."

Milanović said "we are in a terrible situation" because Bulgaria and Romania cannot join Schengen, North Macedonia and Albania cannot begin EU accession negotiations and Kosovo has not been recognised, while Finland "can join NATO overnight."

We are only asking that Finland and Sweden "tell the Americans to solve this," he said. "For me, that's a vital national interest of the Croatian state, nation and people, that BiH be a functioning state."

Milanović said he raised this issue with his French and German counterparts, but that Prime Minister Andrej Plenković, due to his function, had a lot more room for that. "But he is neglecting that consciously and cowardly."

Asked if Croats in BiH should boycott general elections in October unless the election law was changed, Milanović said he did not know at the moment. "It seems to me the feeling among Croats in BiH is that they shouldn't boycott so as not to bring into question local government."

Commenting on the victory of manager Robert Golob and his party in Sunday's parliamentary election in Slovenia, he said Slovenia had been "left-liberal" for the past 30 years.

Croatia-Slovenia relations have been "really good" in the past two years, he said, adding that this was due also to Prime Minister Janeza Janša, who was defeated in Sunday's vote.

"We have seen that Croatia-Slovenia relations have been more stable when Janša was in power, but they were not hostile when the left was in power either."

Tanja Fajon, whom Slovenian media say might be the new foreign minister, was in the past against Croatia's accession to Schengen.

"If they want to prevent Croatia's Schengen entry, okay. Croatia won't go down because of that. They will cause damage to themselves," said Milanović.

He said Croatia was ready for Schengen already in 2015, but added that it was "a political decision and torture." He also criticised the fact that Bulgaria and Romania have not yet entered Schengen, despite being in the EU since 2007.

"Slovenia will, if it looks after its interests, ask that Croatia join Schengen. If not, if will have to hire another 20,000 police officers," said Milanović, who is meeting with Slovenian President Borut Pahor later today.

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated politics section.

Tuesday, 26 April 2022

Milanović Calls on HDZ to React to Plenković's UDBA-style Methods

ZAGREB, 26 April 2022 - President Zoran Milanović on Tuesday once again accused the PM of using methods of Yugoslav-era secret service UDBA in calling out generals for supporting a request that he pardon two former intelligence officers, and called on HDZ members to react or they would be his accomplices.

Speaking to the press, Milanović reiterated that Prime Minister Andrej Plenković was "a protege of the communist regime" and that he had labelled the Homeland War generals supporting the pardon of former senior Yugoslav and Croatian intelligence officers Josip Perković and Zdravko Mustač as "UDBA poodles", and said that he was a "perfidious, evil guy."

Milanović conceded that Plenković did not say literally "UDBA poodles", but remarked that by implying that the generals "were brought in by their ears to sign something" begged the question if they were "people with autonomy of will or just garbage."

Milanović said "UDBA fed (Plenković) when he was a child" because his mother worked in a military hospital and his father worked in the office of the director of Television Zagreb and taught communication studies during communism. A person with such parents "knew he was protected by UDBA," he added.

Milanović said "only people who passed UDBA's school" could accuse Homeland War generals "of being the promoters and protectors of UDBA officers."

He called on members of the ruling HDZ to oppose this and to realise that they were led by people using UDBA-style methods "who stop at nothing... to stay in power."

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated politics section.

Saturday, 23 April 2022

Milanović Says No One Wants Bosnia to Join EU as Much as Croatia

ZAGREB, 23 April 2022 - Croatian President Zoran Milanović said on Saturday Bosnia and Herzegovina was a security, emotional and state issue for Croatia and that no other state wanted it to join the EU as much, adding that he will see personally that Croats in BiH are not totally politically defeated in the next election.

"There is no state which wants BiH to enter the European Union as much and which is working on that as much as Croatia. For sentimental, but often purely selfish reasons. That's in the interest of the community I represent," Milanović said in Livno, BiH.

He was speaking at a ceremony marking 30 years of a military operation in which Croatian units stopped the Yugoslav People's Army and Serb forces from conquering Livno and cutting Croatia in two.

Milanović laid a wreath and lit candles at a monument to fallen Croatian defenders in the town.

He said questions would be raised about the motives of his messages in Livno, adding that Zagreb is pushing for BiH's perspective much more strongly "than a larger part of Sarajevo."

"This is important for us. For us, this is a security, emotional and state issue of a neighbouring state."

Milanović criticised international officials' treatment of BiH, notably attempts to "organise elections by force" and to defeat Croats in them.

"Agreements await you, not battles. Not all is lost. I will do everything so that not all is lost, so that you are represented by the people you elect."

He said the fundamental principles of the Dayton peace agreement were undermined in preparing general elections for October.

"That's not the path to Europe. A European state doesn't function like that," Milanović said, adding that he is not a nationalist, of which some Bosniak politicians and part of the public accuse him.

Speaking of the Croatian military victory in the Livno field, he said Croatia would never forget that. "Thirty years ago, BiH, the European BiH, was defended here with rare courage, as well as the Croatian coast. Croatia can't forget that."

He said that if Croatia and BiH had not had an armament embargo but had available arms as Ukraine did today, the eastern Croatian town of Vukovar "would not have fallen, the tanks would not have crossed the Danube."

Croatian National Assembly of BiH president Dragan Čović said the attempts to divide Croats in BiH would not succeed and that the principles from the country's Constitution for which the defenders had fought would be preserved.

"We neither did nor will allow constituency, equality and sovereignty to disappear from the Constitution," he said, adding that BiH will be the homeland of the Croatian people.

For more, check out our politics section.

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