Prime Minister Andrej Plenković addressing the Neum Conference (Photo: Davor Erceg/HRT) Prime Minister Andrej Plenković addressing the Neum Conference (Photo: Davor Erceg/HRT)

Participating in the online format, Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said that Croatia would continue to support Bosnia and Herzegovina on its Euro-Atlantic path, with the hope that the process will lead to lasting stability and a guarantee of equal rights for all of its constituent peoples.

Plenković said that Bosnia and Herzegovina was and remains a friend and neighbor of Croatia, and that the ties between the two countries are unbreakable: “Along with the fact that Croats are one of the three constituent peoples in Bosnia and Herzegovina, there is a logical interest for of Croatia in the situation and relations in that country and a desire to help as much as possible in its progress and preservation of stability.”

The Croatian Prime Minister went on to say that Bosnia and Herzegovina's path to European integration is the best way to transform, adding that all decisions in this regard should be made within Bosnia and Herzegovina and through the agreement of the people who live in it, and that Croats must be equally represented in this process. He reminded that Croatia has already provided assistance to Bosnia and Herzegovina in applying for EU candidate status in 2016, stressing that the Republic of Croatia plans to continue providing this kind of assistance while simultaneously strongly encouraging the process of EU enlargement to include the entire Western Balkans. Plenković said that he hopes that with Croatia’s support Bosnia and Herzegovina will catch up with other countries in the region that have made greater progress on their path to European integration.

HDZ BiH Party President Dragan Čović (Photo: Armin Durgut/PIXSELL)

One of the speakers at the conference, HDZ BiH President Dragan Čović, reminded that this is the fourth gathering of its kind in a bid to find answers to numerous unresolved issues in Bosnia and Herzegovina: “The goal is to use the potential offered by the process of the country’s necessary transformation, while avoiding the mistakes others have made, based on their experience. In Bosnia and Herzegovina’s case there is no alternative to EU and NATO membership.”

The academic community also voiced its willingness to help Bosnia and Herzegovina in its goal of achieving Euro-Atlantic integration. The rector of the University of Mostar, Zoran Tomić, said the conference was part of an effort to help solve existing problems in Bosnia and Herzegovina, which he said is a deeply divided and dysfunctional society: “I am convinced that Bosnia and Herzegovina is capable of finding solutions based on the European values that we are all striving to achieve, but until then we need to implement changes and build mutual trust.”

President of the Croatian Rectors' Assembly Marin Milković (Photo: Croatian Rectors' Assembly)

The President of the Croatian Rectors' Assembly, Marin Milković, said that the academic community remains open to helping Bosnia and Herzegovina in any way it can to resolve the deep internal divisions without meddling in the country's internal affairs: “We want to do so on the basis of generally accepted principles and the desire of everyone in Bosnia and Herzegovina for a European perspective. As EU citizens we have an obligation to help our friends in Bosnia and Herzegovina.”

The Neum Conference gathered some thirty participants from the region and Brussels, primarily from the academia and political institutions. Among them were Croatian Foreign and European Affairs Minister Gordan Grlić Radman, the EU Commissioner for Enlargement Olivér Várhelyi and the EU Special Representative for Dialogue between Serbia and Kosovo, Miroslav Lajčák.

Source: HRT