Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic arrived in BiH on Wednesday for a two day visit, where she held a series of meetings with senior BiH officials. Following the meeting with BiH Presidency members Dragan Covic, Bakir Izetbegovic and Mladen Ivanic, she said that Croatia has always been and will stay a friend of BiH, and a strong advocator of equality of all BiH’s peoples and citizens.
"I am glad to be in Sarajevo, to give a support as BiH’s friend, who wishes nothing else to this country but only good in its progress towards the EU and the NATO”, she stressed. Grabar-Kitarovic described her talks with BiH Presidency members as very open and announced intensifying of communication and solving of open issues. “Talks on the matters that burden relations is the best path to improvement of cooperation. Except from having a duty to protect interests of Croatia, it is my duty to build peace and friendly relations with other countries, and there is no other country this is more necessary to do with than BiH”, she concluded. Croatian President also said that Croatia is obliged to follow developments in BiH and give friendly suggestions, and she underlined that this cannot be interpreted as interfering with internal matters of BiH. She added that BiH leaders must solve the open issues in BiH on grounds of equality of constituent peoples and all its citizens, and that these issues include changes to the Law on Elections in line with court decisions. According to Grabar-Kitarovic, the goal is to avoid possible paralysis of authorities after the October elections.
She reiterated it is necessary to respect equality of all peoples in BiH. “BiH is a homeland of Croat people too. Unfortunately, things in BiH are often observed as a benefit for one people and loss for another. It is not like that at all and it should not be seen that way. Croats in BiH want only peace, equality with Bosniaks and Serbs. They are not and will not be ethnic minority in this country”, she stressed.
“BiH is a special country, and I have to say that it is difficult for many in the world to understand that we are talking about three constituent peoples. I hope that the European Commission will respond to membership request soon enough. We know how difficult this path is going to be and I believe in sincerity of Bosnian politicians’ commitment, which is why we will provide all the necessary assistance to our neighbors. Historically, economically, culturally, our countries are breathing together”, Grabar-Kitarovic said. She added that no country is bigger advocator of BiH’s path towards the EU than Croatia. Commenting on the issue of Peljesac Bridge, Croatian President said that construction of the bridge is not aimed against BiH, instead the goal is to connect Croatian territory. “The bridge will also help Neum become a beautiful tourist city, instead of transit center”, Grabar-Kitarovic said. She rejected speculations that BiH poses a security problem for Croatia, saying that tensions occurred due to the “noise in channel between our security services”.
Grabar-Kitarovic also commented media articles on her warning about Islamic radicalism in BiH, explaining that all doubts about that were eliminated in communication of leaders of intelligence agencies of the two countries. She emphasized that security services are cooperating even better now and exchanging information in order to remove possible threats. “Unfortunately, some statements I never gave were often attributed to me”, she concluded.
Following the meeting with Croatian President, Covic said he and other two members of the Presidency were honored to talk to Croatian President about many topics that can improve relations between BiH and Croatia as well as relations in BiH. Commenting the changes to the Law on Elections, he said they also discussed this topic to the point where they emphasized it is necessary to find a solution on this matter within BiH, and that deadline for that is the beginning of May.
Izetbegovic said after the meeting that her visit will result in solving of certain dilemmas and in progress. He also said he insisted during the meeting on solving of some open issues that remained unsolved for decades. “I insisted on the issues of border, use of water resources from the Lake Busko, large property of BiH in Croatia, which has not been returned to BiH and companies”, Izetbegovic said, adding that he also insisted on the Peljesac Bridge issue. According to Izetbegovic, Croatia received a letter from the Directorate-General for Regional and Urban Policy on September 29th, which said that the EU was misinformed about BiH and Croatia reaching agreement on the Peljesac Bridge. “The EU wants this matter to be solved and that the bridge construction does not continue. And I gave that EU’s letter to President Grabar-Kitarovic today and asked her that Croatia acts in that way”, Izetbegovic added.
Grabar-Kitarovic also met High Representative Valentin Inzko during her official visit to BiH. Inzko told media after the meeting that they discussed various topics, including the changes to the Law on Elections of BiH. “As for the Law on Elections, we informed the President that the European community and America, as well as the OHR, are leaders in talks with parties. The man who wrote the Law on Elections is also from the OHR, from Belgium. He will continue talks the next week, we are also involved”, said Inzko, concluding that nobody will be fully satisfied in the end.
President ‘Mothers of Srebrenica and Zepa Enclaves’ Association Munira Subasic, who met Grabar-Kitarovic, told media that there is no misunderstanding between them and she repeated that Grabar-Kitarovic, as the only female president of a country in the region, is still the queen of the Balkans. “We did mind because of certain statements, but we never became angry. We expressed her gratitude now and in 2015 when she came to Potocari and gave us support, showed solidarity with us and our children in Potocari. She uttered the right word, and that was that genocide did happen in Srebrenica”, Subasic concluded.