Croatian MP: Bosnian Croats can't be hostages of one party

NEWS 18.10.2018 11:11
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Source: N1

The negative reaction of Croatia’s leadership to the election of the Bosnian Croat member of Bosnia’s Presidency is inappropriate, and Bosnian Croats need all the help they can get so they are not hostages of one political party, Croatian MP and former foreign affairs minister Vesna Pusic told N1 on Thursday.

 “The entire fuss that was created around the election of the Croat member of Bosnia’s Presidency is not contributing to what is in everybody’s interest. That is the stability of Bosnia and Herzegovina, through a stable environment and its stabilising influence on the environment,” she said.

Bosnia’s Presidency is composed of three members, each representing one of the three majority ethnic groups living in the country – Bosniaks, Croats, and Serbs. The country is also composed of two semi-autonomous entities, the Bosnian Serb-majority Republika Srpska (RS) and the Federation (FBiH), shared by Croats and Bosniaks.

While the Serb Presidency member is elected from the RS, the Bosniak and Croat members are elected from the FBiH.

The Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) is the ruling party in Croatia and has a sister party active in Bosnia as well.

The leader of Bosnia’s HDZ is Dragan Covic, who lost in his bid for reelection in Bosnia’s Presidency to left-leaning candidate Zeljko Komsic, the leader of the Democratic Front (DF).

Since there are many more Bosniaks than Croats in the Federation, Bosnian Croat representatives, particularly those of the Croat Democratic Union (HDZ), have been complaining that Bosniaks are able to elect the Bosnian Croat Presidency member and that they did so to help Komsic win the October 7 election.

Bosnian Croat politicians and Croatia’s top officials intensified calls for the Election Law in Bosnia to be changed in order to avoid this from happening again. Changing Bosnia’s Election Law so it can guarantee that Croats can elect their own representative in Bosnia is key to democratic stability, said a press release following a Zagreb meeting between Dragan Covic and Croatia’s President Kolinda Grabar Kitarovic, Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic and other Croatian top officials on Saturday.

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But Pusic told N1 that Komsic was elected according to the same rules and principles as Covic was in 2014.

“You can’t always be satisfied with the election result, maybe someone was dissatisfied last time, and now someone else is dissatisfied. However, institutional procedures need to start being respected,” Pusic said.

The entire discussion revolves around who voted for whom, she said, although any stance on it is uncertain.

“We don’t know to what extent ethnic Croats voted for Dragan Covic, neither do we know to what extent they voted for Zeljko Komsic. We do know that there are more than 130,000 ethnic Croats, and many did not vote for Covic, and many surely did not vote for Komsic either,” she said, adding that “rules in place that are being respected under certain conditions must also be respected under other (conditions).”

She followed up by saying that “Croats in Bosnia and Herzegovina cannot be hostages of one party and one policy.”

“I don’t like it when you shake the entire infrastructure of a country which is institutionally very fragile anyway because you don’t like to election result,” she said.

“It is mostly counterproductive to destabilise institutions and deny recognition to (election) results when you don’t like them while giving them recognition when you do,” she added.

But the ex Croatian foreign affairs minister also said she does not agree with Komsic on everything either. She exemplified this with the issue of the Peljesac Bridge, which Croatia is building across Bosnian waters.

Komsic said earlier that he would back a Bosnian lawsuit against Croatia over the matter.

“That is politics,” Pusic said. “You don’t agree, so you talk. You try to find solutions. Sometimes you do find them.”

There are two key elements to the shift of the course of Croatia’s attitude toward Bosnia, she said.

“One of them is the party (element), they (Croatia’s leadership) support members of their sister party in Bosnia and Herzegovina,” she said.

The other element she described as having “little to do with Bosnia and Herzegovina” but that it “reflects” on the country.

“It has something to do with the internal relations within the HDZ in Croatia, where there are a lot of tensions and conflicts. My opinion is that this is the theme where Plenkovic thinks that he can work toward the satisfying the radical wing,” she said.

“It is clear to anyone who looks at this situation that continuous destabilisation and the raising of tensions and sparking this conflict is not in the interest of a national group or country. Nobody will be able to realise their interests in a country where institutions are being destabilised from the beginning,” she said.

“Bosnia and Herzegovina is important, as the stability in Bosnia and Herzegovina is important for the stability of southeastern Europe,” she said.