Croatia to Finance Social Rights for Thousands of Former HVO Members in Bosnia

Total Croatia News

Croatia will also cover the costs of burials, as well as organize and finance the provision of psycho-social assistance to war victims.

Croatia could expand some of the rights of former members of the HVO (Croatian Defence Council – Bosnian Croat forces during the 1990s war in Bosnia and Herzegovina) on the basis of an international agreement that has yet to be agreed with Bosnia and Herzegovina. Some of the rights will be regulated by a new law which will be adopted in Croatia and which is also being drafted, reports Večernji List on March 8, 2017.

According to the draft of the agreement, which should replace the old one which was signed in 2006, people covered by the law will be former members of HVO combat units, those who were wounded and have the rights of disabled veterans, as well as underage veterans who were wounded or were prisoners of war. Other officially recognized victims are family members of deceased veterans. These are the families whose relatives were killed as HVO soldiers during the war, then all those captured or kept in enemy camps, and those who died of their wounds. The relevant period is defined as starting on 18 September 1991 and ending on 23 December 1996.

According to the agreement, Croatia accepts to pay for financial rights and grant other rights specified in the agreement, which is important considering that the previous contract, which was signed in 2005 by then Deputy Bosnian Prime Minister Bariša Čolak and Croatian Deputy Prime Minister Jadranka Kosor, has expired. Under the new agreement, veterans and families of the deceased soldiers will also be granted the right to one-time financial assistance.

Croatia will also recognize the right to compensation for the costs of burials, as well as to organize and finance the provision of psycho-social assistance to the wounded soldiers and families of deceased soldiers.

At the same time, the new Law on Croatian War Veterans will more precisely define the rights of HVO veterans and other victims. For the first time, the law will explicitly include members of the Croatian Defence Council who during the war defended Croatia, as well as Bosnia and Herzegovina. The law will abolish uncertainty for about 10,000 victims and families of deceased HVO members who are already exercising the right to pension and medical treatment in Croatia.

However, potential problems could occur on the Bosnian side. As previously announced by the Minister of Veterans of BiH Federation Salko Bukvarević, the Bosnian side demands that the status of all HVO members should be resolved in the same manner, regardless of their nationality, provided that they participated in the defence of Croatia. But, the problem is that all the rights are provided just to people having Croatian citizenship, which most Bosniaks in Bosnia and Herzegovina do not have.

The agreement will have to be ratified by the two parliaments, which might be difficult given the current political crisis in Bosnia and Herzegovina.


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