Croatia’s President, Zoran Milanovic, told reporters after his address in the UN General Assembly that he is also the President of Croats in Bosnia and Herzegovina, which caused confusion among journalists who asked for an explanation.
Milanovic also criticized the Chairman and Croat member of Bosnia’s tripartite Presidency, Zeljko Komsic, saying that he “does not know his mandate and on whose behalf he is speaking”.
“Even if he is a representative of Croats because they function as three (Presidency) members, I said that I am the president of Croatia, the presidient of Croatian citizens, Croats, and in some way of those Croats who live in BiH. That is my duty and obligation,” Milanovic said, as reported by Al Jazeera.
When asked specifically whether he is implying that he is the president of BiH Croats, Milanovic said:
“To the extent that the Constitution says, that we should take care of the status of Croats outside Croatia, but respect the countries – yes,” he said.
He explained his position by arguing that “Croats in BiH and in New York have a right to vote (for the Croatian President)” and that this does not mean that he is compromising or interfering in the internal affairs of BiH.
“If you think so, I should be banned from entering BiH,” he said.
When asked whether the presidents of BiH are not the three members of the Presidency of BiH, Milanovic argued that BiH Croats also have Croatian citizenship.
Milanovic also spoke about BiH with Turkey’s President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
“I told Erdogan that there is no one in Croatia who will promote stories about BiH will seceding, which we hear from some others regarding some other parts of BiH. That is not smart and it is not necessary,” Milanovic said.
In his speech at the UN General Assembly, Milanovic talked about electoral reform in Bosnia and the “inability of Croats to elect their representatives.”
“The inequality of its (Bosnia’s) constituent peoples has been unresolved for too long. This has unnecessarily created internal political instability and tension. In order to move forward, Bosnia and Herzegovina needs an appropriate institutional framework for ‘distribution of governance’, based on the principles of federalism, decentralization and legitimate representation,” Milanovic said.
“The concept of constituent peoples is often misrepresented as an obstacle to the equal rights of all citizens. Many political and legal actions can be ensured without renouncing democratic rights and freedoms,” he said.