Plenković to Discuss Status of Croats in Bosnia at EU Summit

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ZAGREB, December 12, 2018 – At the EU summit on Thursday and Friday, Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković will once again address the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina after last October’s general election and the status of Croats in Bosnia, a source from the European Council has said.

Croatia’s Prime Minister Andrej Plenković has asked that he be allowed to inform leaders of the latest situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina following the election, the source said.

Cyprian President Nicos Anastasiades has asked to speak about Serbia and Kosovo, the source added and explained that it is the duty of the president of the European Council to enable that when state leaders so request. The debate on Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo and Serbia will be held within the framework of foreign policy issues which is on the summit’s agenda.

At the last EU summit on 18 October, Plenković informed his colleagues of the status of Croats in Bosnia and Herzegovina, saying that the majority Bosniak population once again outvoted the less numerous Croats in the election the Croat member in the country’s three-man Presidency.

“I think that after my exposition, most colleagues only then realised the dimension of the problem. We have to understand that for someone who is a little further away from our region, that is hard to comprehend. The intervention was supported by Bulgaria’s Premier Boyko Borisov, Hungary’s Viktor Orban and, interestingly, Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, French President Emmanuel Macron, and the EU High Representatives for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini also acknowledged our arguments,” Plenković told reporters after the October summit.

EU state leaders will meet on Thursday and Friday in Brussels for a regular December summit.

In the meantime, Croatia Parliament has ended a debate on the Declaration on the status of Croats in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH). Foreign Minister Marija Pejčinović Burić voiced hoped that it will be adopted with the broadest consensus possible, as did Božo Ljubić, chair of the parliamentary Committee on Croats outside Croatia, which proposed the Declaration.

I hope the amendments submitted will be constructive and that the Declaration can be adopted with the broadest consensus possible. It would be good if we showed the broadest unity possible on what we think about and want for the Croat people in BiH, the minister said.

This is an extremely important document whose value is reflected in a clear and unambiguous message of support to the Croat people in BiH as well as a message of friendship to BiH, she added. I hope the Declaration will be an expression of support from us all, independently of political or any other affiliation, said Pejčinović Burić.

Ljubić, of the ruling HDZ party, said the biggest benefit of today’s debate was that the important topic of the Croat people in BiH was in the focus of Croatia’s politics and public.

“We sent Croats in BiH the message that Croatia is there for them. We shed light on the importance of BiH and the decisions made there and those making them,” he said, adding that BiH and Croatia had to rely on each other and that Croatia, even if there were no Croats in BiH, should deal with BiH. “Because the state is still unfinished, BiH remains a certain cause for concern, notably for its neighbours.”

Ljubić agreed with the amendments submitted to the Declaration asking to value the role of the Croat Defence Council. He said that, with good will, the Croatian parliament could reach a solution that would facilitate a broad consensus on the Declaration. He called for doing that in good faith and constructively so that parliament could adopt the Declaration on Friday.

Arsen Bauk of the opposition Social Democrats said the Declaration’s main messages should be respect for international agreements and the rule of law. We must not deviate from diplomatic practices and put emphasis on state bodies’ obligations so as to improve the position of Croats in BiH and clearly condemn some occurrences, he added.

More news on the status of Croats in Bosnia and Herzegovina can be found in our Diaspora section.


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