Plenković Hopes Schmidt will Take Steps in Favour of Croats in BiH

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“We hope that the High Representative in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Christian Schmidt, will take steps that will ensure at least minimal equality for Croats after the elections on 2 October,” Plenković said during a visit to the southern town of Imotski.

He said that the Croatian government stands “firmly with Croats in Bosnia and Herzegovina,” but not in a way that insults Schmidt and dissuades him from making a decision in favour of the Croats, as  President Milanović does.

“We are doing that by discussing the substance of the matter with him, to clarify why it would be good for him to do something,” Plenković added.

Commenting on the “sabre rattling”, he underscored that Croatia “projects stability both as a member of the EU and NATO” and that it is a country that has solved all its national tasks, united its national territory, which will join the euro and Schengen areas this year, and which takes care of Croats outside Croatia, especially Croats in Bosnia and Herzegovina as a constituent people.

He recalled that Bakir Izetbegović has now openly admitted that he negotiated in bad faith, that he conducted the negotiations in such a way as to maintain the status quo.

“That is unacceptable and, in my opinion, it is not very politically smart for him. In fact, it is even disqualifying because it means that you are trying to deceive those with whom you are negotiating, including the international community,” the prime minister said.

He pointed to the “huge difference” between the governments in Zagreb and Sarajevo, and noted that the orchestrated pressure from political parties, through the protests in Sarajevo and the threats that Schmidt experienced, certainly did not contribute to making his decision a few days ago, but that he would make a decision after a while.

Plenković is convinced that Bosniak political stakeholders will not change their position. “In my opinion, I don’t see how, after key political actors on the Bosniak side have openly said ‘we negotiated to pass the time,’ how can you expect them to suddenly agree on something at the eleventh hour,” Plenković wondered.

Insist on stability, peace and dialogue in Kosovo

Referring to the situation between Kosovo and Serbia, after Priština announced on Sunday that it would regulate number plates as of 1 August, Plenković said that “the issue of number plates has been on the agenda for years.”

“As far as I am aware, the Kosovo government has postponed the implementation of their decision for a month. We think it will be resolved by then,” said Plenković, calling for “stability, peace and dialogue” to avoid any tensions or even possible conflicts in the north of Kosovo. “That is our general policy and I think we should insist on it.”

The Kosovo government announced on Sunday it was ready to postpone the implementation of measures banning entry into Kosovo for people with Serbian ID cards and regulating number plates until 1 September, when the barricades are expected to be removed and freedom of movement fully restored on all roads in the north of Kosovo.

Earlier, Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić called on Kosovo and Western countries that support Priština to “come to their senses” in order to avoid possible conflicts after the Kosovo government’s administrative decisions, which are disputed by Belgrade, while Priština sees them as an expression of sovereignty.

These are reciprocal measures, because Serbia has not allowed the entry of Kosovo citizens with Kosovo documents for 11 years, but instead issues them with special permits.

‘Milanović has caused damage to Croats in Bosnia and Herzegovina’

Journalists in Imotski also asked Plenković when the arguments with President Zoran Milanović will end. Milanović said previously that they would end when the Prime Minister “steps into his shoes.”

“God forbid anyone in his shoes, let alone me. He is a big pest who has done enormous damage, above all to the Croats in Bosnia and Herzegovina. I am telling them this so that they understand and realise what he did was undermining the efforts to help, both the international community and also the high representative and other stakeholders. To step into his shoes would mean doing harm to Croatia or the Croats in Bosnia and Herzegovina,” Plenković said.

He admitted that “some people there think that (Milanović) is doing good.” “Here are the results of his policy,” Plenković said.

He said that Milanović is fighting with everyone, journalists, commentators, minorities and so on. “So his shoes don’t fit me,” Plenković concluded.


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