Bosnian Croat leader and Deputy President of the House of Peoples, Dragan Covic, met on Tuesday with Serbia’s President Aleksandar Vucic at the margins of an economic fair that opened in Mostar.
“We spoke about cooperation between Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia, about our EU integration process, economic cooperation and on how to improve it,” said Covic.
Asked whether they also spoke about NATO integrations - a sensitive topic in Bosnia - he said that was an issue that will be discussed for quite some time in the future.
Bosnian Serbs tend to follow Serbia’s policies on such matters while Bosnian Croats follow Croatia’s stands.
Bosnia’s NATO path is a delicate subject as Serbia has declared military neutrality while Croatia is a member. This creates splits in Bosnia where Bosniaks press for membership, Serbs are against it and Bosnia’s Croats have started avoiding the subject.
“Regarding that issue, we are respecting the interests of the Republic of Serbia,” Covic said.
Notably, Bosniak politicians are absent from the fair this year.
Both the Bosniak leader Bakir Izetbegovic and the prime minister from his party, Denis Zvizdic, have cancelled their participation in the opening ceremony.
The political division in Bosnia has deepened since Bosnian Serb and Bosnian Croat representatives have begun cooperating more intensively in the past two years.
Both are advocating some form of territorial rearrangement of Bosnia, with Bosnian Serb leader Milorad Dodik advocating for the Serb majority parts of Bosnia to be annexed to neighboring Serbia and Covic hinting at the creation of a separate Croat semi-autonomous entity within the country.
In a recent interview, Dodik redrew the borders between Bosnia and Serbia, saying that some kind of integration of Serbia, Bosnia’s Republika Srpska (RS) entity and Serb-dominated part of Montenegro must occur in the future.
“I know it won’t happen right now, but I'm sure it will happen in this century,” he told Serbian Espresso.rs portal.
“One doesn’t have to be a genius to know that conditions will be met for this. This is our political wish,” Dodik said.
When N1 asked Vucic to comment on Dodik’s map, he said that his country thinks that “it is very important for all to respect the territorial integrity of Serbia and Serbia is respecting the territorial integrity of all others. That it how it was, and I hope that is how it will stay.”
He criticised “certain politicians from Bosnia and Herzegovina” for trying to “violate Serbia’s territorial integrity.”
“I believe that is a bad message and that nobody should in any way breach anybody else’s territorial integrity,” he said.
“As for the relationship with Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Montenegro and North Macedonia, Serbia does not have any aspirations nor anything similar,” he said.