Some 600 members of Bosnia's Croat Democratic Union (HDZ BiH), the strongest Croat nationalist party in Bosnia, gathered on Saturday in Mostar to elect a new party leadership and praised Croatia’s support for the goals of the Croats in Bosnia in presence of Croatia's Prime Minister.
HDZ BiH is a sister party of the ruling party in Croatia with the same name, HDZ.
The Croatian delegation was led by Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic who was praised by the Bosnian Croat leader Dragan Covic, who was reelected, for his support for the Bosnian Croats as well as Bosnia’s path toward the EU.
“Having the head of Croatia's Government support what we are doing together is a great satisfaction,” Covic said. “If it wasn’t for his influence, we wouldn’t have submitted the request for (EU) membership or done many things on our Euro-Atlantic path,” he added.
Croatia has lobbied with the EU for changes of Bosnia’s election law which would make sure that each of Bosnia’s three groups can elect their representatives.
This would mean that Croats should only vote for Croats, Serbs only for Serbs and Bosniaks only for Bosniaks - a concept that clashes with certain rulings by European Court of Human Rights.
What Croatia wants to avoid in the future is that the numerically dominant Bosniaks elect the Croat representative in the country’s presidency as they did three times already.
Left-leaning Zeljko Komsic was the prefered choice of many Bosniaks who refuse to accept nationalism as the basis for selecting their leader. This bothers Croat nationalists and they are trying to legally disable such choices.
The HDZ claims Komsic’s victory was a plot designed to marginalise Croats and replace the power-sharing system with a one-person-one-vote democracy.
The most vocal advocate for such legal changes was Croatia’s member in the EU Parliament, Zeljana Zovko, whom the HDZ has again submitted for re-election.
“I think that Zeljana Zovko, who has inherited the mandate I had in the European Parliament, has proven to be an excellent choice for the interests of both Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, and I think personally also for the equality of all constituent peoples in Bosnia and Herzegovina,” Plenkovic said.
Plenkovic praised Covic’s role in Bosnia’s efforts to come closer to EU membership.