Croatian Ambassador to Bosnia Recalled over Controversial Event

Total Croatia News

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ZAGREB, January 10, 2019 – Croatian Ambassador to Bosnia and Herzegovina, Ivan Del Vechio, is going to be summoned for consultations to Zagreb after his attendance at the controversial celebration of the “RS entity day” in Banja Luka, although that holiday in the Serb entity was declared unconstitutional by Bosnia and Herzegovina’s Constitutional Court.

Wednesday’s celebration was also marked by the posthumous awarding of decoration to ex-JNA officer, Slavko Lisica, who was sentenced to 15 years for war crimes in the Croatian city of Šibenik. In 1998, the local county court found Lisica guilty of shelling that Adriatic city in September 1992. In the shelling launched by JNA units under Lisica’s control, a woman was killed and the city’s landmarks, including centuries-old churches and monuments in the city centre, were damaged.

War Veterans’ Affairs Minister Tomo Medved and Defence Minister Damir Krstičević on Thursday strongly criticised Croatian Ambassador to Bosnia and Herzegovina Ivan Del Vechio for attending Wednesday’s celebration of Republika Srpska Day in Banja Luka.

Attending such a ceremony “is inappropriate conduct, particularly considering the fact that a war criminal, convicted in Croatia of grave war crimes, was decorated on that occasion,” Medved told the press before a government’s meeting in Zagreb.

Minister Krstičević said that attending such an event was a disgrace.

Medved said that it was up to the Foreign and European Affairs Ministry to decide on possible measures against the ambassador. “As far as I know, the foreign ministry did not know that Del Vechio was attending that event, and it is now gathering all the necessary information about the case,” Medved said.

Medved, however, would not comment on the presence of the local Bosnian Croat leader, Dragan Čović of the Croatian Democratic Union of Bosnian and Herzegovina (HDZ BiH) at the Banja Luka event. “Being a representative of the Croat people in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Čović makes his decisions on his own and I do not want to comment on that,” said Medved.

The Bosnian Serb authorities on Wednesday organised Republika Srpska Day celebrations despite a 2015 Constitutional Court ruling that declared the entity’s holiday to be contrary to the Constitution and discriminatory against the other two constituent peoples in the country.

The parade and celebrations in Banja Luka were ignored by a vast majority of foreign diplomats in Bosnia and Herzegovina, with the exception of the ambassadors of Russia and Croatia. Also in attendance were Serbia’s Prime Minister Ana Brnabić and Defence Minister Aleksandar Vulin as well as top dignitaries of the Serbian Orthodox Church.

The central event included a parade involving 1,500 participants, mostly armed police officers. Some of them wore uniforms resembling those worn by Serb troops in World War I. The parade also included firefighters, civil protection staff, war veterans, student and local branches of the controversial Russian motorcycle club “Night Wolves” that is perceived to be close to Vladimir Putin. The club’s leader Alexander Zaldostanov has been banned from entering Bosnia and Herzegovina and declared a threat to national security.

No symbols of Bosnia and Herzegovina were displayed during the parade or at other commemorative events. On the other hand, numerous flags of the RS entity and Serbia were flown and only the anthems and Republika Srpska and Serbia were played.

More news on the relations between Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina can be found in our Politics section.


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