ZAGREB, February 19, 2018 – Opening the question of the border between Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina would be like opening Pandora’s Box and Bosnia and Herzegovina would fare far worse than Croatia, the Chairman of the Croatian Parliamentary Foreign Affairs Committee, Miro Kovač, said in Sarajevo on Monday.
Former Croatian foreign minister Kovač was heading a Croatian delegation on a two-day working visit to Bosnia and Herzegovina, which includes another former FM, Davor Ivo Stier and Arsen Bauk.
On the first day of the visit, they met with members of the Commission for Foreign Affairs of the House of Representatives, as well as the speakers and deputy speakers of both that house and the upper House of Peoples.
After the meeting, Kovač told reporters that several outstanding issues in bilateral relations were discussed and in particular made reference to the issue of the border, stressing that it was one of those matters that proved that reopening some issues was a waste of time. “There is an agreement on the state border that was signed in the late 1990s by the then Presidents Franjo Tuđman and Alija Izetbegović. It has been applied since then and is functioning,” Kovač said and added that once the border was defined it made no sense to reopen that issue.
He underscored that the maritime border agreement clearly defines the rights of Bosnia and Herzegovina and that the possible construction of a port in Neum would in no way be jeopardised as ships would be able to dock there without hindrance.
“I am convinced that (the reopening of the border issue) would be more damaging to Bosnia and Herzegovina than to Croatia,” Kovač said and added that as far as Croatia is concerned, Bosnia and Herzegovina is a friendly country and it will receive all the necessary assistance in the Euro-Atlantic integration processes, which is a guarantee of its lasting stability.
Kovač added that it was important for Croatia that Bosnia and Herzegovina was a functioning law-governed state and that therefore he expected representatives of the peoples and citizens to reach an agreement on amending the electoral law which will ensure equality of all peoples in the country and enable them to form a lawfully elected government after the October election.
Commenting on claims about deteriorating relations between the two countries, Kovač said that they were unfounded. “I reject any theories of deteriorating relations. That simply isn’t so,” he said, adding that the claims of “spreading negative energy” in relations between the two neighbouring countries were “ridiculous.”
The deputy chair of the foreign affairs commission in the Bosnian House of Representatives, Nermina Kapetanović, said that her country believed that the border issue should be resolved by the two governments.
She added that it was very important for Bosnia and Herzegovina for this issue to be resolved as soon as possible because the new EU strategy for the Western Balkans foresees that none of the countries in the region will be able to join the EU until they resolve bilateral issues with their neighbours, including border demarcation.
Kapetanović said that despite the existence of outstanding issues, the parliaments of both countries are prepared to cooperate and resolve problems to their mutual benefit.