The rights of Bosnia and Herzegovina Croats should be protected because they are the smallest constituent people but there is no reason why in areas where they are in the majority the situation shouldn't be much better than it is now, a high-level international official has said.
In an interview with Radio Free Europe, High Representative to Bosnia and Herzegovina Valentin Inzko referred representatives of the country's Croat community to examples of Bavaria or California in the USA.
Everything those regions do could be copied in cantons with the Croat majority in the BiH Federation entity, they could have the best possible health system and schools and no one would have anything against it, said Inzko.
Commenting on demands by local Croat parties to change the country's election law to make it possible for Croats to elect on their own their representatives to government bodies, including the collective state presidency, Inzko said he fully understood Croats’ frustrations and that they should be seriously addressed.
He added, however, that the leader of the HDZ BiH party, Dragan Covic, should have asked himself if his defeat in the elections two years ago was not only due to provisions of the election law but also due to the fact that he had lost the confidence of a part of the Croat electorate.
Inzko suggested that once the final amendments to the election law were discussed, they should also include provisions that would put an end to discrimination against some 300,000 Bosnia and Herzegovina citizens who are denied their active or passive voting rights because they are members of ethnic minorities or do not want to declare their ethnicity, as well as those who cannot run in elections because of their place of residence, on which the European Court of Human Rights has made a ruling.
Asked how he sees Croatia's policy towards Bosnia and Herzegovina and its Croat community, Inzko said that he understands Zagreb's need to care for Bosnia and Herzegovina Croats but that it should not treat them as diaspora.
They are not a minority. They are a constituent people and should be treated accordingly. Naturally, any help is necessary and welcome. I would be glad if Croatia made mass-scale investments also in the Posavina region in the Republika Srpska entity. The 150,000 Croats who used to lived there are gone, but their land is still there. If that land was used, or big farms were built, if Herzegovina flourished, and investments were made in Zepce and elsewhere, that would be the biggest help, said Inzko.
He reiterated that the Office of the High Representative would not close down, a demand coming from the Serb entity, and announced that next year the international community could enhance its engagement in Bosnia and Herzegovina, notably in light of Joe Biden's election as US President.