Croatian President Meets with Bosnian, Serbian Counterparts

Total Croatia News

ZAGREB, March 6, 2018 – Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović said on Tuesday that Zagreb encouraged the members of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s (BiH) Presidency to agree on an election law as soon as possible and show that they could arrive at solutions that were essential for the country.

“The members of the Presidency informed me about the situation with the new election law. We didn’t go into its elements and, on Croatia’s part, I can encourage (them) to reach an agreement as soon as possible and show that the political forces in BiH are capable of arriving at solutions which are essential for this state,” she said after a meeting with the highest BiH and Serbian officials in Mostar, BiH.

The meeting was attended by the three BiH Presidency members – Dragan Čović, Mladen Ivanić and Bakir Izetbegović – and Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić.

Grabar-Kitarović said that adopting an election law in line with decisions of the BiH Constitutional Court and international bodies, such as the Sejdic-Finci ruling, was necessary to ensure the Dayton peace agreement’s principles “without any meddling in internal matters.”

She recalled that Croatia, as a signatory to the Washington agreement and a guarantor of the implementation of the Dayton Agreement, had the obligation to closely follow processes in BiH and mention any challenges it might notice. “The Republic of Croatia really stands for the fundamental Dayton principles and not some specific solutions, and it’s up to BiH leaders to assume responsibility for ensuring a better future for it.”

The only remaining democratic option is to “implement the principles under which all three nations and the others are constituent and equal, as stated in the Dayton Agreement,” she said, adding that “that’s the direction which BiH leaders should approach to amend the election law.” She said the worst option would be if the international community or someone from it imposed solutions to BiH. “I think the best path is towards the European Union, where the BiH constitution will have to be changed one day, just as Croatia too changed it, and to work on a balance of collective and individual rights in BiH.”

BiH Presidency Chairman Čović said the election law was not a topic of the trilateral meeting, but that the Croatian and Serbian officials asked “where we are at about that issue and about our expectation to finally amend the election law in regular parliamentary procedure to comply with the decisions of our Constitutional Court on the legitimate representation of the constituent peoples at all levels of government.” Čović said they stressed that, if the law was amended, it would help not just with elections but BiH’s European journey too, otherwise the country would face many temptations.

The Presidency’s Bosniak member, Izetbegović, told reporters he did not analyse the election law issue as he considered it BiH’s internal matter. “I don’t think that our friends from Zagreb and Belgrade can help us there.”

The Presidency’s Serb member, Ivanić, said the situation with the election law, which must be adopted before October’s elections, “is more difficult than we thought” and that “this topic will certainly burden the months ahead a lot.”

President Vučić said Serbia was closely watching all relations but that Belgrade should not interfere in any way. He underlined, however, the importance of the Dayton agreement. “We support the Dayton peace agreement, that the three nations are constituent and equal, as President Grabar-Kitarović said, as well as the existence of two entities in BiH. And BiH’s territorial integrity too, naturally,” he said, adding, “That’s important to us and all else is up to the nations and their representatives in BiH to agree.”

As for border issues, Grabar-Kitarović said she was generally for bilateral solutions but that, if they could not be reached, she advocated for an international tribunal. She recalled that she and Vučić had agreed that the Croatian-Serbian border dispute should be resolved bilaterally over the next two years and that, if that failed, the two countries would go to an international tribunal.

As for the Croatian-Bosnian border issue, she said the two countries signed an agreement in 1999 that was not ratified but was being applied. If no agreement is reached, there is always a tribunal, she added.

Vučić said that, if no solution was found to the Serbian-Croatian border dispute over the next two years, the two countries should “choose an international body, institution or arbiter” and stand by that.


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