ZAGREB, Jan 15 (Hina) – Božo Ljubić, the chairman of the Main Council of the Croat National Assembly (HNS), the umbrella organisation of Croat political parties in Bosnia and Herzegovina, said on Monday he expected Croatia’s President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović to be welcomed in Bosnia and Herzegovina as a friend and that he did not consider her lobbying for amending electoral legislation as interference in the country’s internal affairs.
“I hope that the president of a friendly country will be welcomed here in a friendly atmosphere,” Ljubić told a press conference in the southern city of Mostar after a meeting of the Main Council. He was asked to comment on the announcement by a Bosniak non-governmental organisation that they would organise a protest rally over her visit to Sarajevo, scheduled for Wednesday.
Grabar-Kitarović met with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Ankara last week to ask him to use his influence with Bosniak leaders to change electoral legislation and ensure legitimate representation of the Croats in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Ljubić said that this was not an act of interference in Bosnia and Herzegovina’s internal affairs but an attempt to help resolve problems arising from the present electoral law and avoid a crisis that might emerge as a result of failure to elect a government at the level of the Bosniak-Croat entity.
“Croatia is a signatory to the Dayton agreement and has full legitimacy and the right based in international law to discuss this issue. This cannot be called interference in internal affairs,” Ljubić said, adding that Turkey, as a member of the Peace Implementation Council for Bosnia and Herzegovina, also had every right to try to help resolve the dispute between the Croats and Bosniaks.
He said that the Dayton agreement, which ended the country’s 1992-1995 war, was violated to the detriment of the Croats in 2000 and 2002 when the electoral law and the entity constitution were amended, which made it possible for the more numerous Bosniaks to outvote the Croats and impose political representatives on them. One of the amendments was abrogated in 2016 by the Constitutional Court, which ordered ensuring the election of legitimate representatives of the people.
Ljubić said that an amended electoral law guaranteeing equal status for the Croats would relax relations with the Bosniaks.
“If we honour the Constitutional Court ruling and ensure an expression of the political will of the three constituent peoples, and if we create institutional conditions for the exercise of national equality, this will automatically obviate the need for other forms of organising the country along ethnic lines. Amending the sections of the electoral law concerning the Presidency and the House of the Peoples will considerably relax relations between the peoples,” said Ljubić.
He said that the amendments proposed by the HNS would also resolve the problem of minorities referred to in the Sejdic-Finci ruling by the European Court of Human Rights because all citizens, and not just candidates of the three constituent peoples, would be allowed to stand for the highest offices in the country.