Croatian Ambassador Erred by Attending Bosnian Serb Celebration, Says Minister

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ZAGREB, January 11, 2019 – The Croatian Foreign and European Affairs Ministry had not been informed of the decision by the Croatian Ambassador to Bosnia and Herzegovina to attend the celebration of Republika Srpska Day, Minister Marija Pejčinović Burić told HRT broadcaster on Thursday, adding that Ambassador Del Vechio “had made a wrong call.”

Croatia has never taken part in the celebration of that day and this is how it should have been this time as well,” Pejčinović Burić said.

Ambassador Del Vechio understood that this was a visit by the chairman of the Bosnia and Herzegovina presidency, the minister said.

Pejčinović Burić dismissed speculation that Del Vechio traveled to Banja Luka following instructions from Zagreb.

Croatia’s policy regarding the Republika Srpska has not changed and his presence at the celebration “is a big surprise;” notably in light of the fact that during his term as ambassador he had never attended this ceremony, the minister said. “He should not have been there on that day,” Pejčinović Burić said.

The ambassador has been recalled for consultations to Zagreb, the minister said adding that a decision regarding further steps would be made. She added that the ambassadors’ term had ended anyway.

HDZ BiH president Dragan Čović’s decision to attend the ceremony was “an autonomous decision of the president of the largest Bosnian Croat political party and we in Croatia have absolutely no influence on it or have any intention to decide on the matter,” Pejčinović Burić said commenting on the Čović’s decision to attend the ceremony in Banja Luka.

The said ceremony in Banja Luka was marking January 9, which the authorities of the Republic of Srpska observe in memory of the establishment of “a republic of the Serb people in Bosnia and Herzegovina,” which has since been proclaimed as unconstitutional.

At the ceremony attended by both Čović and Del Vechio, the president of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s Serb entity, Željka Cvijanović, posthumously awarded decorations to Slavko Lisica, a Yugoslav People’s Army officer who was convicted of war crimes in Croatia.

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


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