Foreign and European Affairs Minister Gordan Grlic-Radman on Tuesday (08.12) presented the first report on the implementation of the Declaration on the Status of Croats in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) saying that there is no doubt that a stable and functional BiH is Croatia’s strategic national objective.
“Croatia’s support for the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Bosnia and Herzegovina is unquestionable. It is unquestionable that the main precondition for the existence of a functional and stable BiH is satisfaction with the overall quality of life for all three constituent peoples and other citizens based on the constitutional principles agreed under the Dayton-Paris peace agreement 25 years ago”, Grlic-Radman underscored.
He warned, however, that Croats in BiH are faced with difficulties in exercising their rights, “a sort of institutional violence”, as shown by their being denied legitimate political representation and other negative social consequences arising from this fact.
Hence Croatia’s institutional support that the Declaration deals with is more than necessary so that Croats can continue to live in BiH where they have lived for centuries, said Grlic-Radman, adding that in 2019 Croatia did “quite a lot.”
The minister said that institutional support for Croats in BiH was provided with the participation of the prime minister and government members as well as other officials and state bodies who, within their remit offered significant political, financial, and operational support to numerous education, science, and religious institutions.
The issue of facilitating the exercise of rights by HVO personnel who participated in the Homeland War was resolved as was the issue of obtaining Croatian citizenship, he said and underlined the enhanced cooperation in absorbing available European funds.
Grlic-Radman informed the parliament that Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic had participated in numerous political and social activities aimed at contributing to stability in BiH, he supported reforms in that country and in fulfilling accession criteria for the EU and NATO.
The Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs was also very active. In all aspects of foreign policy and diplomatic activities, Croatia continued to affirm the principle of equality of all three constituent peoples in BiH, including the necessary reform of its election law, said Grlic-Radman.
He said that last year BiH received the largest amount of Croatia’s development aid of HRK 85.6 million for 106 projects.
Grlic-Radman boasted that in 2019 trade with BiH amounted to €2.2 billion, which was 5.9% more than in 2018, noting that Croatia achieved a surplus of €823.7 million in commodity trade.
That fact often goes unnoticed in the Croatian public and it is without a doubt that Croats in BiH make a big contribution to that. It is clear that the survival of Croats in BiH and their good economic prospects make a strong contribution to Croatia’s economy too, underscored Grlic-Radman.
He said that the Central State Office for Croats Abroad, as the main state body that operationally implements the Declaration advertised a tender to finance cultural, education, and science projects, allocating HRK 25.8 billion for these projects, the highest amount so far.
Grlic-Radman listed activities according to ministries noting that the Ministry of Labor in cooperation with the Veterans Ministry regulated pension rights for HVO personnel and their families.
I consider those legislative amendments to be of exceptional significance facilitating the regulation of the status of HVO defenders which corrected an injustice said the minister.
He noted that based on bilateral cooperation the Defense Ministry provided military training for Bosnian Defense Ministry personnel and that as many as 22 out of a total of 37 bilateral military activities with Southeast European countries conducted in 2019 related to cooperation with BiH.