Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic on Tuesday called on Croat and Bosniak parties in Bosnia and Herzegovina to reach an agreement on electoral reform so that all citizens and peoples in the country can be legitimately represented.
Croatia does not want the crisis due to changes to BiH's election law to be prolonged, he said at the opening of the 2022 International Economic Fair in Mostar, BiH.
“We appeal in particular to the leaders of the Bosniak and Croat parties to renew trust, to renew their alliance so that the election law can be changed.”
We have shown willingness at the highest EU level to organise a continuation of the talks, Plenkovic said, adding that Croatia is doing that as a well-meaning friend which wants to help BiH to be functional.
“That's why it's important that BiH functions well, that a step forward is made with the support of the international community, and that the Croats are legitimately represented in state and Federation institutions.”
Plenkovic said he initiated a debate on BiH at the European Council, which adopted conclusions to encourage an electoral reform agreement. That would be a way for BiH to continue its European journey, he added.
“That's the appeal of a friend, a country which wants BiH to get EU (membership candidate) status as soon as possible and step up its European journey.”
Croatia is the second-biggest investor in BiH and its main trade partner.
Plenkovic said the strengthening of infrastructure and economic ties was very important. He called for building a southern Croatia-BiH gas interconnection so that BiH can have a diversified supply.
Hungarian FM criticises EU
Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto, speaking at the opening of the fair as the representative of the partner country, strongly criticised Brussels over the slow EU integration of Western Balkan countries.
He said Brussels was making a strategic mistake and that such conduct was damaging to regional security. He pushed for Serbia's EU accession and giving BiH candidate status.
Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic said any regional instability affected every Western Balkan country. “Instability is bad for everyone. It's necessary to build bridges of cooperation and to build a more progressive region.”
The International Economic Fair Mostar is taking place after a two-year break due to COVID. It brought together 750 exhibitors from some 20 countries.
In Mostar, Plenkovic met with the leadership of the HDZ BiH party and is to meet the leadership of the Croatian National Assembly, an organisation of Croat political parties in BiH.