Friday, 1 July 2022

Milanović Responds to Criticism Over Stand at NATO Summit

ZAGREB, 1 July 2022 - President Zoran Milanović asked on Friday "what should I have done" at the NATO summit following criticism by the right-wing opposition that he was not harsh enough and that he softened his rhetoric on the accession of Finland and Sweden, which earlier he made conditional on Bosnia's election law.

At the Madrid summit this week, NATO invited Finland and Sweden to join. Milanović has long considered that should be made conditional on changes to Bosnia and Herzegovina's election law, although he says that in principle, he has nothing against the accession of those two countries.

Finland and Sweden will sign NATO accession protocols on Tuesday, which have to be ratified by all member states.

Yesterday, MP Marija Selak Raspudić (Bridge) said Milanović had played with the feelings and rights of Croats in BiH in a way and that "someone could ask him, where are you now, tough guy?"

Speaking to the press today, Milanović referred to her question at least a dozen times.

"What should I have done?... What should I have said? Which stand would have been the right one to satisfy Selak Raspudić?" he said when asked if he should have been more vehement.

"What do you mean, more vehement? To sully Finland and Sweden? I never do that."

Milanović reiterated that now all the responsibility on their NATO accession "is up to Croatian members of parliament."

Asked if he would, as he had said, "persecute as sinful souls" those MPs who vote for the accession, he said his message was first and foremost to Prime Minister Andrej Plenković because he missed the chance in Brussels in 23 June to help BiH win EU candidate status like Ukraine and Moldova did.

"Ukraine can't get candidate status overnight and BiH be left on the side," he said, adding that many in eastern Europe thought so too, but were using the excuse "well, you know what the situation is."

Milanović said a number of European leaders thought that Plenković failed to do that for BiH because "he got scared." "Sometimes you have to stand firmly behind some things. And then the paradox happens that Slovenian and Hungarian Prime Ministers Robert Golob and Viktor Orban do that instead."

Milanović reiterated that he "would do everything for the election law on BiH to be changed. But my possibilities and powers stop at one point and I can't prevent someone from signing that accession agreement on Croatia's behalf."

"That's active and topical until October, until election day in BiH, because the election law can be changed today, tomorrow, but if it's changed in November, it means nothing to us."

He went on to say that the NATO accession of Finland and Sweden was not a done deal and that the decision made in Madrid to invite them to join "is a general political stand" adopted after Turkey scrapped its blockade.

"You think the story was over with the signing of a memorandum by the three sides? The very next day they requested the extradition of 33 persons," he said about the memorandum Turkey signed with Finland and Sweden and its demand that they extradite 33 members of the PKK and FETO movement it considers terrorists.

Milanović went on to say that Europe and not the United States would deal with the issue of changes to BiH's election law. He said Croats in BiH "can be saved only by a miracle" and accused the Croatian government of "sadistic obstruction."

"That's the responsibility of Plenković and several of his vassals," he added and again criticised Foreign Minister Gordan Grlić Radman for not attending the NATO summit.

For more, check out our politics section.

Monday, 27 June 2022

Milanović Expected to Meet Finnish Counterpart, Swedish PM During NATO Summit

ZAGREB, 27 June 2022 - Croatian President Zoran Milanović will attend the NATO summit in Madrid from 28 to 30 June and is expected to meet bilaterally with Finnish President Sauli Niinisto and Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson, his office said on Monday.

The summit is being held in the midst of a major security crisis in the Euro-Atlantic area caused by Russia's aggression against Ukraine, and therefore a discussion on strengthening aid to Ukraine is also expected.

A topic of the NATO summit will also be Finland's and Sweden's accession to the military alliance.

Earlier, the Croatian president said that the entry of the Nordic countries into NATO should be made conditional on amendments to the election law in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Finland's Prime Minister Sanna Marin paid an official visit to Croatia last week, and Milanović told her that in principle he was not opposed to Finland's accession to NATO, but at the same time, he underscored the difficult position of Croats in BiH and the security problems facing Croatia due to the unstable situation in that country.

Also, in a recent telephone conversation with his Finnish counterpart, Milanović said that he was not opposed to Finland's entry into NATO, but that he expected to understand from that country for the protection of the rights of BiH Croats.

Invited non-member heads of state and government - Australia, Georgia, Japan, South Korea, New Zealand, Finland, and Sweden - and European Council President Charles Michel and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen will also attend the summit.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is expected to address the summit via a video call.

On the first day of the NATO summit on Tuesday, Milanović and his wife Sanja Musić Milanović will attend a gala dinner along with other heads of state, hosted by King Philip VI of Spain and Queen Letizia.

For more, check out our politics section.

Monday, 14 June 2021

Milanović: NATO Summit's Communique To Mention Dayton After Croatia's Insistence

June 14th, 2021 - After Croatia kept insisting for six days that a final statement of the NATO summit meeting should mention the Dayton peace accords, the final text of the document incorporated the reference to that agreement Zoran Milanović said in Brussels on Monday.

On Sunday, the Croatian head of state made his approval of the final document conditional on making mention of the Dayton accords that define Bosnia and Herzegovina as the three constituent peoples: the Bosniaks, the Serbs, and the Croats and other citizens.

Milanović today explained that after Croatia's request that the final communique should refer to the Dayton agreement as to the basis for the functioning of Bosnia and Herzegovina had been ignored for six days, the Croatian side was forced to say on Sunday that "we would oppose the consensus."

Milanović told the press today while coming to the summit meeting that on Sunday, NATO's Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg had called him, and the things were settled in half a minute.

However, it took six days until we made sure that the communique's Bosnia and Herzegovina segment would mention the Dayton peace accords. This is a small thing for this summit, just a footnote, and a great thing for us, Milanović said.

 All other things in the whole text of the 50-page final declaration have been acceptable for me as the head of the Croatian delegation, he added.

Milanović does not believe that he will manage to hold a meeting with U.S. President Joe Biden.

"I think he has more important things to do," the Croatian president said.

Croatia had insisted on the three points in the declaration: the Dayton peace agreement, the constituent peoples, and the election reform of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Eventually, there will be no mention of the constituent peoples; however, it is covered by referring to the Dayton agreement that defines Bosnia and Herzegovina as the Bosniaks, the Serbs, and the Serbs Croats, and other citizens.

It remained unclear why the first draft failed to mention the Dayton peace accords.

NATO's declaration in 2004 ceased making mention of the Dayton agreement, and since then, the Dayton accords have not been mentioned by inertia. However, the Croatian side has raised the issue since the Bosniak representatives started trying to eliminate the concept of the constituent peoples. 

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