Bosnian Croat Cardinal Warns about Political Tensions

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Bosnian Croat Cardinal Vinko Puljić says that hopelessness and despair are widespread in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Catholic Archbishop of Sarajevo, Cardinal Vinko Puljić, said on Monday that he was deeply concerned about the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina, warning that despair and hopelessness were widespread due to economic difficulties, while the government is not doing anything to change that in order for everyone to enjoy their rights, reports Večernji List on April 17, 2017.

“I am truly concerned due to the dark clouds of despair which are leading many people to desperation, to the point that some of them have decided to take their own lives,” said Cardinal Puljić, addressing guests at the traditional reception which was organized in Sarajevo on the occasion of Easter.

In a speech in front of high government officials, including members of presidency Dragan Čović and Bakir Izetbegović, Cardinal Puljic said that he was particularly sad that in Bosnia and Herzegovina there was a huge number of people who declare themselves to be faithful, but the society is in general ruled by immorality and lawlessness. He criticized politicians for actions which for some people in Bosnia and Herzegovina persistently deny some of their fundamental rights. “No one has the authority to give rights which belong to the people. The authorities just need to recognize and implement them,” said Cardinal, adding that this included personal dignity of the man, human and civil rights, the right to work, the right to private property and national and cultural identity.

Croat member of presidency Dragan Čović told reporters after the Cardinal’s speech that he would do everything to protect the dignity of every human being, but also ensure the equality of the three constituent peoples. He announced that in the next fifteen days they would intensify talks on resolving the outstanding issues, including changes to the electoral law. “We will discuss it in Parliament,” announced Čović, emphasizing that there was no more time for lengthy discussions which do not bring any results.

Bosniak member of presidency Bakir Izetbegović said that on the Bosniak side there was readiness for an agreement on outstanding issues, such as changes to election rules, but he insisted that it must be the result of an agreement between all coalition partners in the government. The election law, according to Izetbegović, cannot be changed in just one segment, the one linked to demands put forward by Bosnian Croats, saying that such request was “one-sided”.

He added that the election law could be changed only by including provisions which would implement the judgment of the European Court of Human Rights, which would enable members of national minorities to run for positions in the presidency and the House of Peoples of Parliament. Currently, only Serbs, Croats and Bosniaks can run for these positions.

Bosnian Croats insist on changes which would prevent members of other nations from electing Croat representatives in government institutions. Such view is supported by authorities in Croatia.


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