Defence Minister Krstičević Visits Međugorje in Bosnia and Herzegovina

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Minister said that Croatia expected Bosnian institutions to prosecute war crimes without discrimination and political pressures.

Croatian Defence Minister Damir Krstičević said in Međugorje in Bosnia and Herzegovina on Wednesday that he expected judicial institutions in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) to prosecute war crimes without discrimination and political pressures, reports Večernji List on November 16, 2016.

“Every crime must be punished. But, judicial bodies must be independent, must be free from political pressures. There should not be any discrimination for some to be treated in one way, and others in a different way”, said the Minister when asked about indictments against Bosnian Croats. He pointed out that all international standards in the prosecution of war crimes must be implemented.

Bosnian Defence Minister Marina Pendeš admitted that there used to be selective approach in issuing indictments. “As the Defence Minister, but also as a member of the HVO (Croatian forces during the 1990s war in BiH), I and my party condemn every crime and they all must be prosecuted. However, you can see that sometimes there is a selective approach”, said Pendeš.

Asked whether he was afraid to enter Bosnia and Herzegovina, given Serbian media allegations that he could be arrested for alleged atrocities committed by troops under his command in western Bosnia in 1995, Krstičević said that there were no problems in crossing the border. “As I expected, everything proceeded normally”, he said.

He added that as a minister of a NATO and EU member state, he was committed to peace and stability in the region and supporting Bosnia and Herzegovina. “I am Defence Minister of Croatia, which is a member of NATO and the European Union. I am here to turn towards the future, to see how we can enhance our defence cooperation. It is my responsibility and that is the reason why I came here”, said the Minister.

Asked why he came to Međugorje and not to the capital Sarajevo, Krstičević said that he would surely come to the Bosnian capital as well. “Next week, I will host a meeting in Croatia, and there is no reason why in the future we should not meet in Sarajevo”, he said.

Minister Pendeš pointed out that she was the one who invited Krstičević to Međugorje. “Međugorje in also in Bosnia and Herzegovina. There are other towns in addition to Sarajevo”, said the Minister.

During the one-hour meeting in Međugorje, the defence ministers discussed the training of officers from BiH at the Croatian Military Academy, joint participation in the military mission in Afghanistan, and security challenges such as the threat of terrorism. “Today we have a lot of security challenges, asymmetric threats. We must have security systems both in Croatia and in Bosnia and Herzegovina that can react to all these threats and risks. Therefore, it is very important to have joint action”, said Krstičević.


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