ZAGREB, January 12, 2020 – A Croatian member of the European Parliament and its rapporteur on the Western Balkans, Tonino Picula, has said that Croatia’s President-elect Zoran Milanović should use his term to improve relations between Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), the Sarajevo-based Dnevni Avaz daily said on Saturday.
In an interview with the daily, Picula said that relations between the two countries had always been friendly and well-meaning but that it was now time for Milanović to help start resolving outstanding issues in their relations “in a rational way”.
He noted that outgoing President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović was partly responsible for the current state of relations between the two countries, which he said was not good. “With occasionally clumsy and unfair statements the outgoing president questioned Croatia’s professed policy towards Bosnia and Herzegovina and the end of her term was marked by a certain lack of ideas in that regard,” said Picula.
Picula stressed that regardless of its problems, Bosnia and Herzegovina remained a partner to EU institutions, which expected of it commitment to long-announced reforms which it had undertaken to implement.
“In doing so it will enjoy unreserved support, primarily from members of the European Parliament,” he said, adding that responsibility rested primarily with Bosnia and Herzegovina and that he expected elected officials to responsibly perform their duties.
Picula said that it was high time the Bosnia-EU interparliamentary commission for European integration started functioning.
The commission has not met since 2015 due to the demand by Serb deputies in the national parliament that all decisions in the commission be made by consensus, which departs from the usual practice in relations with other countries.
Serb deputies have been refusing for five years to accept the proposed rules for the work of the commission.
“That is a standard document, adopted by all candidate countries, and that only shows the high level of disfunctionality and general mistrust within the existing system in Bosnia and Herzegovina,” said Picula.
Bosnia and Herzegovina House of Representatives President Denis Zvizdić said in an interview with the Fena new agency on Saturday that it was high time the two countries’ relations started improving, noting that that was one of the things Milanovic’s voters had voted for.
He said that relations so far had not been satisfactory. “I’m speaking about (the need for) mutual respect, respect for BiH’s sovereignty and integrity, about frequent and unnecessary interference in BiH’s internal affairs and an unnatural, condescending attitude with regard to processes in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the region,” said Zvizdić.
Zvizdić, who was BiH’s prime minister in the past five years, said that his country and Croatia were historically oriented to one another and commended Croatian PM Andrej Plenković’s constructive role in strengthening those relations.
He warned, however, that despite that, there were still some issues that remained to be resolved such as the construction of the Pelješac Bridge, the possible construction of a nuclear waste disposal site at Trgovska Gora (on the border with Bosnia and Herzegovina), and the status of the property of BiH companies in Croatia.
Those issues should be put on the table and discussed based on facts and international law, he said.
“I expect Zoran Milanović to restore (discussions) to the level of institutions… and his visits to Bosnia and Herzegovina to be at the institutional level and not be party or ethnically-motivated visits.”
More news about relations between Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina can be found in the Politics section.