"No one in the European Union advocates the disintegration of Bosnia and Herzegovina and everyone, including Croatia, wants to help the country's integration into the Union as soon as possible," Croatia's Foreign Minister, Gordan Grlic-Radman, said in Sarajevo on Thursday.
At the end of his two-day official visit to that country, Grlic-Radman met separately for talks with Prime Minister Zoran Tegeltija, and senior parliamentary officials, Democratic Action Party (SDA) leader Bakir Izetbegovic, who chairs the House of Peoples, and Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ BiH) leader Dragan Covic, who is Izetbegovic’s deputy in the house.
After the talks, Grlic-Radman told reporters that the agenda “included a non-paper that Croatia had previously sent to the EU Foreign Affairs Council aimed at accelerating BiH’s EU integration.”
The talks on the document “proved that Croatia respects BiH and wishes to open room for the non-paper to be improved and thus make the debate that will most likely be held in the EU Foreign Affairs Council in May, more productive,” Grlic-Radman said.
He added that “Croatia’s position in relation to Bosnia is clear,” and that it “fully recognises Bosnia as a country comprised of two entities and three constituent and equal peoples.”
“We strongly support the need to amend the election law and remove any inequalities that exist,” said Grlic-Radman, adding that the Bosnian officials agreed that the election law has to be changed and cooperation within the country improved.
EU fully respects Bosnia’s territorial integrity and sovereignty
Asked whether it was true or not that some EU countries support the idea of a “peaceful breakup” of Bosnia, Grlic-Radman explicitly said that something like that certainly does not exist in the EU.
“The entire EU and all of its member countries respect international law, just like Croatia, which includes the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Bosnia as a country,” said Grlic-Radman, adding that any other claims are “mere speculation.”
He said that the EU’s policy is focused on an affirmative approach to Bosnia, which is contained in Croatia’s non-paper. He added that “Croatia is and remains Bosnia’s advocate in the EU structures” and that it wants that country to be more strongly represented in talks within various bodies in the Union.
“We can do a lot here to help,” said Grlic-Radman.
Before the talks with the representatives of the executive and legislative authorities, Glic-Radman met separately with US Ambassador to Bosnia, Eric Nelson, and the head of the EU Delegation, Johann Sattler. Both officials later tweeted that they “dedicate special attention” to changes to the election law in Bosnia and that that was an important topic of discussion with Croatia’s foreign minister.
Sattler recalled that the Union’s opinion as a roadmap provides BiH with a chance to move forward and hold “freer and fairer elections in 2022.”
Grlic-Radman then visited the town of Kresevo with a population of almost 5,000, 80 percent of whom are Bosnian Croats.