ZAGREB, December 14, 2018 – The Croatian parliament on Friday adopted, with 81 votes for to 11 against and four abstentions, a declaration on Bosnia and Herzegovina Croats’ status, which calls for amending the Constitution of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the election legislation for the purpose of enabling the Croats, the least numerous constituent people, to be equal to the other two peoples in that country.
The six-point document underscores that for the successful functioning of Bosnia and Herzegovina at all levels, it is crucial that all its constituent peoples and citizens are equal and that they have full confidence and trust in their country’s future.
The declaration warns about attempts to marginalise the Croats. In this context, it is underscored that for the third time, the Croat representative in the tripartite presidency has been elected thanks to ballots cast by Bosniaks, and that this is contrary to the spirit of the Dayton peace accords.
The document warns that such a scenario is possible even if all the eligible Croat voters in Bosnia and Herzegovina cast their ballot for just one candidate, which does not mean that he or she will win the seat of the Croat representative in the presidency.
The declaration also underlines several times that Croatia supports the sovereignty of Bosnia and Herzegovina and recalls that Zagreb backs and assists Bosnia and Herzegovina’s European Union membership bid.
It calls for efforts to be taken to “consensually amend the Constitution of Bosnia and Herzegovina and its election legislation so as to ensure the harmonisation of relations between its three constituent peoples and equality of all its citizens.”
The document calls for ensuring simplification, transparency, manageability and cost-efficiency of the internal organisation of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Institutions in Croatia are called to continue advocating and supporting fast changes that will ensure the equality of all the three constituent peoples and citizens of the neighbouring country, and they are urged to intensify assistance to institutions of strategic importance for the Croat people in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The document, which was put to a vote by the parliamentary committee for Croats living outside Croatia, was supported by lawmakers from the ruling Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) and some members of the parliamentary group of the Work and Solidarity Party of Zagreb Mayor Milan Bandić, as well as representatives of the Independents for Croatia party and a few other MPs.
Those who abstained from voting were independent MPs Marko Vučetić, Tomislav Žagar, Vlaho Orepić and Mario Habek.
Those who were against the document were lawmakers from the largest opposition party – the Social Democratic Party (SDP) while deputies from another two opposition parties – the MOST and the Živi Zid – did not attend the vote.
During the debate before the vote, SDP parliamentarian Joško Klisović said that the purpose of the declaration should not be only to point to the status of the local Croats but also to determine what Croatia can do to help them to improve their situation. He also noted that it was not the Croatian parliament’s duty to discuss the constitution and election law of a neighbouring country.
MOST leader Božo Petrov accused the ruling HDZ of hypocritically offering insincere help to the Croats in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
On the other hand, HDZ bench whip Branko Bačić called on MPs to overcome their narrow partisan interests and support the declaration.
More news on the status of Croats in Bosnia and Herzegovina can be found in the Diaspora section.