Croatian President Zoran Milanovic on Tuesday spoke by phone with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, who initiated the conversation after receiving the letter Milanović sent all NATO member states about the status of Croats in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the President's Office said.
Milanovic does not see eye to eye with the government regarding the NATO applications of Finland and Sweden, and wants Croatia to make its support conditional on finding a solution to the BiH election law.
According to his office, the president informed Stoltenberg in detail about “the serious political crisis” in BiH and the “difficult situation” of Croats there, “many of whom are also Croatian citizens.”
Milanovic said Croats in the Federation entity “have been exposed to electoral manipulation for years and are again forced to participate in elections according to unconstitutional provisions of the BiH Election Law.” He added that despite multiple attempts to change the election law, once again they would not have the possibility to elect their legitimate representatives.
Milanovic told Stoltenberg that was a “direct breach of the Dayton peace agreement” and that “this situation discriminates against Croats in BiH as a constituent people, it is against the rule of law as well as a threat to stability in BiH.”
The unequal status of the Croats has a negative effect not only on BiH's stability but also brings into question the national security of Croatia, to which a stable BiH is of strategic interest, Milanovic told Stoltenberg.
Discussing the NATO applications of Sweden and Finland, the president showed understanding for the context in which NATO is discussing them, but reiterated that Croatia expects the allies’ understanding for the attempt to protect the rights of Croats in BiH and thereby its state interest, his office said.
That's why Croatia “expects more understanding” from its NATO allies “for the just and legitimate demands to ensure the equal status of Croats in BiH,” the President's Office quoted him as saying.
That could have a positive effect also on regional stability, in whose ensuring NATO is actively involved, he added.
The two officials also exchanged views on preparations for next month's NATO summit in Madrid.