18:38 / 13.12.2021.

Author: Branko Lozančić

Plenković: Resolve the crisis in Bosnia and Herzegovina by agreement, starting with election law

Andrej Plenković and Zoran Tegeltija

Andrej Plenković and Zoran Tegeltija

Foto: HTV / HRT

Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said in Sarajevo on Monday that the crisis in Bosnia and Herzegovina should be resolved through talks and agreements based on the Dayton Accords, which will reduce tensions in the country while ensuring equal rights for all who live there.

The Croatian Prime Minister was welcomed in front of the Assembly of the Council of Ministers and the Parliament of Bosnia and Herzegovina with the intonation of national anthems, after which Plenković and his host, the Chairman of the Council of Ministers of Bosnia and Herzegovina Zoran Tegeltija, accompanied by ministers.

“Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia have good economic and political relations that are developing from year to year, despite the efforts of individuals to present themselves differently,” said the Chairman of the Council of Ministers of Bosnia and Herzegovina Zoran Tegeltija after the conversation. He added that Croatia participates in Bosnia and Herzegovina's foreign trade with 10 percent, and in the first ten months of this year the decline from 2020 has already been compensated.

He listed the status of the property of the citizens of the two countries and the arbitration in connection with the thermal power plant "Gacko" as open issues, but also the border agreement and the construction of a radioactive waste dump on Trgovska Gora in Croatia. Tegeltija said that his personal view was that Croatia should look for another location for such purposes.

“My first political message is that I come as a friend, as a partner. With the desire to improve cooperation, to send a message about the integrity of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the equality of all three constituent peoples. Croatia respects the Dayton Agreement, the concept of two entities and three constituent peoples,” said Prime Minister Andrej Plenković. He added that during parliamentary talks, he would reiterate his interest in the equality of Croats as the smallest constituent people so that their representatives could be legitimately represented in all institutions of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The Croatian Prime Minister considered it important that Croatia, as an EU member, extended a hand to Bosnia and Herzegovina in the light of the pandemic. Regarding illegal migration - he reiterated that the two countries must cooperate in order to prevent it and to prevent people driven by war and various disasters – to be manipulated, so they would not end tragically.

“Croatia is maximally ready to increase economic cooperation and trade with Bosnia and Herzegovina, resolve issues of better transport connections and increase cooperation in the field of energy,” said Plenković. He cited the bridge near Svilaj as an example of excellent cooperation. “That is why it is important to support Bosnia and Herzegovina to complete its part of Corridor 5c,” added the Prime Minister. As for energy, he singled out Croatia's readiness to co-operate in the southern part - from Dugopolje, as far as gas is supplied - to move towards Imotski and Posušje. He also announced the renovation of the old and the construction of a new bridge near Brčko.

Changes to the election law have already been agreed upon, and now they are running from them?

“Electoral legislation must be such that all nations feel comfortable, in the opportunity to elect their representatives, and not to be elected by someone else,” said Zoran Tegeltija. He heard, he says - that changes to the election law have been agreed upon, but that they will not be accepted until the elections in Mostar are confirmed. “Apparently someone promised someone something, and today he wants to get away from that deal,” he added. Commenting the High Representative's latest statement that the election should be held under the old law he said "I don't think it brings anything good."

Radioactive waste repository

Regarding the waste disposal plan on Trgovska Gora, Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said that the ministers of Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina are in constant dialogue. The important thing, he said, is that there is no threat to citizens, which is confirmed by reliable scientific information. He explained that no one lives near the location and there are no dangers for the citizens of Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, which should be explained to people in order to be peaceful.

The Croatian delegation includes the Prime Minister, Minister of Finance Zdravko Marić, Minister of Economy and Sustainable Development Tomislav Ćorić, Minister of the Sea, Transport and Infrastructure Oleg Butković, State Secretary for European Affairs Andreja Metelko-Zgombić and Member of Parliament and Chairman of the Committee for Croats Abroad Zdravka Bušić. On the Bosnian side, Minister of Finance Vjekoslav Bevanda, Minister of Foreign Trade and Economic Relations Staša Košarac and Minister of Communications and Transport Vojin Mitrović are taking part in the talks.

Prime Minister Andrej Plenković in Bosnia and Herzegovina

Prime Minister Andrej Plenković in Bosnia and Herzegovina

Foto: HTV / HRT

Plenković with Čović and Izetbegović

Prime Minister Andrej Plenković then met with the leaders of the two houses of the Bosnia and Herzegovina Parliament, some of whom are also leaders of the country's governing political parties. Among them are Dragan Čović, leader of the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Bakir Izetbegović, the president of the Party of Democratic Action (SDA). After talks with them, Plenković confirmed to reporters that the political situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the institutional crisis in which the country finds itself were on the agenda, as well as talks on changes to the election law.

“We would like the decisions on changes to the election law to be such that all three constituent peoples are satisfied, and that the position of the Croatian people as the smallest is equal,” said Plenković. “If such solutions were reached for changes to the election law,” he said, “relations within the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina would be relaxed, and a "gentleman's agreement between Bosniaks and Croats" would,” in his opinion, contribute to better relations with Serbs and then all authorities would function. “European reform processes could continue, ending the current crisis,” said Plenković.

He said that in the end, the responsibility for such an agreement within Bosnia and Herzegovina lies solely with the political parties in Bosnia and Herzegovina and its institutions, and, as he said, it is important to have a sense of nuances and realities.

"It's important to keep to the letter and spirit of Dayton"

“Izetbegović understands that as well. There are different models and solutions, but it is important to keep to the letter and spirit of Dayton, which was never in question until 2006,” said Plenković, suggesting that the election of Željko Komšić to the Bosnia and Herzegovina state leadership violated the essence of the agreement ending the war in 1995.

Answering journalists' questions, Plenković said that he was not aware that the deployment of European military forces in Bosnia and Herzegovina was being prepared in EU bodies, and that this was the position of some MEPs rather than something being discussed in the institutions. He explained that the EU's position is to condemn all actions that lead to new tensions in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and that the Dayton Agreement must be respected.

EU ready to deploy up to 6,000 troops in Bosnia and Herzegovina?

The information that the European Union is ready to deploy up to six thousand soldiers in Bosnia and Herzegovina in the event of an escalation of the crisis during a visit to Sarajevo was presented by the MEP from the Green Group Thomas Waitz. His counterpart, Romeo Franz, also head of the European Parliament's delegation for relations with Bosnia and Herzegovina, confirmed on Monday that the body was following the secessionist threats coming from the Republic of Srpska with great concern.

“This is a great danger to peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina, but also in Europe on the whole,” Franz told reporters after a meeting with Bosnia and Herzegovina parliamentarians, including those from the Republic of Srpska, because they refuse to communicate with representatives of the Green Group. Franz said the group expects the High Representative, Christian Schmidt, to react if necessary and use his broad powers. He announced that the European Parliament will continue to insist on the introduction of urgent sanctions for all those in Bosnia and Herzegovina who threaten peace and stability in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The Croatian Prime Minister then laid a wreath at the memorial on the Suada and Olga Bridge in honor of the victims of the Serb siege of Sarajevo in the 1992-1995 war, which killed nearly 10,000 residents of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Source: HRT

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