The Croatian parliament on Friday adopted a declaration on the status of the Croat people in Bosnia and Herzegovina which calls for amending Bosnia’s Constitution and election legislation with the aim of enabling the Croats, the least numerous constituent people, to be equal to the other two peoples in that country.
The declaration said that in the October general election, the Croat representative in the country’s tripartite presidency was elected thanks to the ballots cast by the Bosniak people, and contrary to the spirit of the Dayton peace accord.
Even if all Croat voters in Bosnia cast their ballot for just one candidate, the declaration said, it does not guarantee that that candidate will win the seat of the Croat representative in the presidency.
The Croat and Bosniak members of the country's tripartite Presidency are both elected by voters in the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina (FBiH), one of Bosnia's two sub-national entities splitting the country in half along ethnic lines.
The election of Zeljko Komsic, leader of the Democratic Front, to the Bosnian Croat seat in October is contested by all the major Croat parties in the country. Komsic defeated his main rival, Dragan Covic of the Croat Democratic Party (HDZ BiH), which is the sister party of the ruling centre-right Croatian Democratic Party (HDZ) in Croatia. Both Komsic and Covic are ethnic Croats, but Komsic ran on a multi-ethnic centrist platform, unlike Covic, who ran on a nationalist platform.
It is stated several times in the declaration that Croatia supports the sovereignty of Bosnia and Herzegovina and that Zagreb assists Bosnia and Herzegovina's European Union membership bid.
It called for efforts to be taken to ensure simplification, transparency, manageability, and cost-efficiency of the internal organisation of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Institutions in Croatia are called to continue advocating and supporting fast changes that will ensure the equality of all the three constituent peoples and citizens of the neighbouring country, as well as to intensify assistance to institutions of strategic importance for the Croat people in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The document, which was put to a vote by the parliamentary committee for Croats living outside Croatia, was supported by lawmakers from the HDZ and some members of the parliamentary group of the Work and Solidarity Party of Zagreb Mayor Milan Bandic, as well as representatives of the Independents for Croatia party.
During the debate before the vote, Social Democrat MP Josko Klisovic said that the purpose of the declaration should not be only to point to the status of the local Croats but also to determine what Croatia can do to help them to improve their situation.
He also added that it was not the Croatian parliament's duty to discuss the constitution and election law of a neighbouring country.