Existential Threats For Croats Of Bosnia and Herzegovina


Signing of Dayton Accords, 1995

The outdated 1995 Dayton Accords for Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), devised to stop the 1990’s war only stopped the war but did not bring true peace or stability to the country. Bosnia and Herzegovina has for the last two decades remained frozen in time of the days of the war, only instead of gunshots being heard on the ground it is the political turmoil and its dark demeanour that increasingly amplifies the Bosniak agenda to overpower Croats in the Federation of BiH part of the country while they look away from the Serbian push to achieve independence from BiH of the Serbian Republic/Republika Srpska entity, founded on crimes, genocide and ethnic cleansing against Bosniaks and Croats.

Past two decades of perpetual political and economic dysfunction, security threats amplified by radical Islam (that has found a friend and a fighter/feeder in Bosniaks), palpably fading European and American interest, and the divisive foreign influence of Russia and Turkey, the Croats of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s emerge as a threatened nation even if on paper they are one of the three constitutional people (Bosniaks/Muslims, Croats and Serbs) that make up BiH. Croats in BiH have been marginalised during the last two decades. Bosniaks have elected a Croat member of the Presidency and formed a federal government twice without legitimate Croat support, completely ignoring Croat electoral will.

The proximate catalyst for the country’s current crisis centres on this year’s national elections. In December 2016, BiH’s Constitutional Court declared unconstitutional a controversial law governing elections in the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina (the bigger of BiH’s two autonomous entities, the other being Serbian Republic/Republika Srpska, dominated by Orthodox Serbs). In a legal quirk, the Federation’s numerically larger Bosniaks (Bosnian Muslims) can elect designated Catholic Croat representatives to seats on the legislative House of Peoples, effectively disenfranchising them. In a February 2017 resolution on Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Brussels-based European Parliament cited “the importance of the recent decision of the Constitutional Court on the principle of constituent status and equality of its three constitutive peoples to elect their own legitimate political representatives…in the House of Peoples.” The Bosniak-dominated government in Sarajevo, however, steadfastly refuses to implement the Court’s decision thus threatening the integrity of the election process. Unless the law is amended (attempts to do so have so far failed scandalously) there will be no constitutional basis to hold elections and form the next Federation government. Worse, the central government would then be unable to form as its legislators are, in part, selected from each Entity’s parliaments.

It’s becoming evident that the International Criminal Tribunal’s verdicts against Serbs and Croats in The Hague have injected into Bosniaks, particularly their leader Bakir Izetbegovic, a new vigour to pursue Bosniak plans for control of BiH and if not the whole of BiH, then definitely the Federation BiH (Bosniaks and Croats) entity. It was this week that Izetbegovic claimed that both Croatia and Serbia were aggressors against BiH. Izetbegovic’s political motives are clear in this even if they are devious and rotten to the core. Given the appalling lack of responsibility for war crimes pinned against the Bosniaks, who committed heinous crimes of mass murder and ethnic cleansing against the Croats in BiH, one finds it difficult to circumvent the likelihood of political engineering that favours the Bosnikas, with blatant bias and injustice towards the Croats in particular. The Bosniak plans to suppress and exterminate Croats as equals by any means possible have been there from the start and continue. This is evident today as it was during the war.

Unchecked migration in BiH, particularly from Islamic countries and increasing adoption of radical Salafi Islam from foreign fighters (Mujahideen) who came to the country during its 1992-95 war to fight alongside Muslims against Orthodox Serbs and Catholic Croats as well as from ever tightening camaraderie in the relationship between Bosniaks and Middle-Eastern Islamic leaders are a cause for real concerns, especially to BiH Croats.

Any solution that gives Bosniaks majoritarian control would result in the annihilation of Croats as a constituent people in BiH.

The threat of future terrorist attacks linked to ISIS camps in Bosniak controlled territories in BiH, widening communal violence that keeps escalating in the lead up to this year’s elections geared to the scenario that each constitutional people should vote for their own representatives so that eventually deciding power in the country is equally shared, unchecked migration, Russian military adventurism in Republika Srpska entity on a pretext of “peacekeeping,” merit renewed high level attention and resolution with international involvement, specifically the US and the EU, including Croatia. Russia’s and Turkey’s fingers need to be removed and influence sidelined.

As much as the European Union/Commission was deeply involved with its often more detrimental than useful role in the 1990’s war in former Yugoslavia, particularly in the framework of aggression against Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina who had chosen to secede from Yugoslavia, it has become blatantly apparent that the EU on its own is unable to assume the responsibility of sorting out the political mess and crisis in BiH, which is emerging as a real threat of a new war. But – no more Dayton-like accords or agreements. The European Union’s ability to play a critical diplomatic role in crafting global policy towards global challenges has been demonstrated through its response towards Russian aggression against Ukraine. But the EU is a conglomerate of sovereign states and success in crafting global or regional policies was dependent on US engagement and commitment. The historical, ethnic and cultural inseparability of Croats in Croatia and BiH dictates and empowers Croatia’s involvement in ensuring that Croats of BiH enjoy equal rights within the conglomerate of three constitutional peoples. During the war that raged from Serb aggression in Bosnia and Herzegovina in early 1990’s, the leaders of Bosnia and Herzegovina, in particular president Alija Izetbegovic, pleaded with Croatia to come and help defend Bosnia and Herzegovina, which Croatia took on as well as providing for some 500,000 refugees from BiH. Having this fact in mind it is natural and just that Croatia needs to protect the interests of BiH Croats – with a stronger and more assertive voice than what has been heard so far.

On Wednesday 2 May, High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini and European Commissioner for Enlargement Negotiations Johannes Hahn urged the Bosnian political leaders to reach an agreement on electoral reform, ahead of a new negotiations meeting. Without amendments to the Bosnia-Herzegovina Electoral Law there would be difficulties in implementing the results of the election to be held in October, said Mogherini and Hahn.

The ongoing local facilitation efforts by EU and US ambassadors to Bosnia and Herzegovina have provided a framework conducive to a solution being found, it is noted. It is also stated in Mogherini and Hahn statement that the EU expects the leaders of Bosnia and Herzegovina to reach a compromise without further delay in the best interest of their country.

“If the results of the general election cannot be implemented, the formation of a new government could be at risk,” they emphasised.

“The holding of elections and the implementation of their results, including proper functioning of the institutions, is a fundamental democratic requirement for any country aspiring to join the European Union. Holding the future election results hostage to party interests is not an option,” reads the statement.

Leaders of Federation BiH’s (FBiH) parliamentary parties gathered on Thursday 3 May in Sarajevo in yet another attempt to reach an agreement on changes in the BiH Election Law. After five hours of debate, they came out having reached one conclusion – it is necessary to engage the Venice Commission (Council of Europe) so that it can decide whether the suggested changes are in accordance with EU standards.

As in all earlier cases, negotiations around the changes of the Electoral role are currently hosted by the U.S. Ambassador to BiH, Maureen Cormack, with the participation of the EU Special Representative, Lars Gunnar Wigemark. It means that the international community wants to see this problem solved as soon as possible and -at best- before the Central Election Commission BiH officially announces the general elections’ date. This is expected on May 8 and parties have just a few days to agree and adopt changes in Parliament. Given the track record on this matter with the Bosniak thirst for control (led by Bakir Izetbegovic) and alarming (perhaps purposeful) absence of due self-determination in the official Croat leadership in BiH (led by Dragan Covic), that have so far worked to the detriment of asserting equality for Croats in BiH, one somehow doubts any agreements will be reached by coming the Tuesday or by October. One does not doubt, however, that a stronger political force in BiH is desperately needed to ensure the survival of Croats there, as an equal constitutional ethnic make-up of the country. Ina Vukic

Croatia: Callous Deceit Behind Serbia’s Initiative For Common Victims Remembrance Day

Serb aggression devastated Croatian towns and people in 1990's

Serb aggression devastated
Croatian towns and people
in 1990’s

Distressing attempts to equate the aggressor with the victims of 1990’s war of Serb aggression against Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina coming out of Serbia never seem to relent. In July we witnessed Serbia’s Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic having stones, shoes and items of rubbish thrown at him at the 20th anniversary of Srebrenica genocide, when he had to flee the gathering. The reason for this was mainly in his and Serbia’s twisted political course in denying the fact that Serbs committed genocide in Srebrenica 1995.

Aleksandar Vucic Photo: Beta

Aleksandar Vucic
Photo: Beta

During the past week Vucic has come up with another distressing proposal or initiative: he proposes Common Day of Remembrance for all the Victims of the Conflicts on the Territory of former Yugoslavia towards achieving lasting peace in the region! That means Serb victims, Croat victims, Bosniak victims, Kosovar victims…

Superficially, all that might seem fine were it not for the fact that the Serbs and the Serbs only, were the aggressors everywhere who do not want to accept it nor take responsibility for their aggression on other nations’ territories and people.
Vucic announced that at the meeting on the 27th of August in Vienna, and even before that, he will propose to all leaders whose countries were involved in the conflicts on the territory of the former Yugoslavia, to find a common day of remembrance on all victims from the Western Balkans, that would not be differed by their ethnicity.
According to his words, “everyone could show the same respect for all of the victims and we would all know that there were victims on all sides.”
From hatred and digging the old wounds from the past we cannot and we will not be able to live,” said Vucic.

Vucic needs to reaslise that “digging the old wounds” is essential to human dignity and justice if those wounds have not healed and the only way such wound can properly heal is through justice for the victim – through prosecutions and punishment of the perpetrator and through the perpetrator’s repentance.
The leaders in the region and some politicians in BiH have already said that this proposal will not be accepted.

Bakir Izetbegovic

Bakir Izetbegovic

Bakir Izetbegovic, member of tripartite Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina Federation said that “Prime Minister Vucic’s initiative can only gain momentum if it implies genuine confrontation with the truth on all crimes, acceptance of verdicts handed down by international courts and historical facts established in the verdicts, as well as unequivocal condemnation of activities leading to new conflicts in this region – such as the initiative on holding a referendum on secession coming from the leadership of Republika Srpska.” Otherwise, he added, Vucic’s initiative might lead to relativising the character of the war and the scope of the crimes committed against the Bosniaks. “Such an initiative would not contribute to the process of reconciliation, but would rather set it back and endanger it,” Izetbegovic stressed.

Zoran Milanovic

Zoran Milanovic

Croatian Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic rejected the idea.
“With due respect and condolence, we do not prescribe to others which holidays they will mark, and we will not allow them to do that to us,” Milanovic said.



Hashim Thaci

Hashim Thaci

Kosovo foreign minister Hashim Thaci said Vucic’s proposal is unacceptable, and it represents an attempt to rewrite the history.
We cannot equate those who instigated, organized and conducted genocide with those who defended their homes,” Thaci said.
Indeed the only thing I see in Vucic’s initiative for a common commemoration day for all victims of the 1990’s war in former Yugoslavia is yet another rude and callous attempt to equate the aggressor with the victims, to bury the blood from Serbia’s hands without any responsibility taken for the spilling of that blood.



It’s good to remind ourselves at this point that Williams and Scharf, suggest that a fixation on peace, especially when accompanied by practices of appeasement, does not simply result in a glossing over of questions of justice and victimisation, but actually leads to a discourse of moral equivalence and moral duplicity between victim and aggressor: “ Moral duplicity… entails declarations and actions designed to create the perception of moral equivalence among the parties, thereby eroding the distinction between aggressor and victim and spreading culpability among all parties” (Paul R. Williams and Michael P. Scharf, Peace With Justice: War Crimes and Accountability in the Former Yugoslavia, 2002, p. 26).

From this perspective, it is not just that “getting to peace” fails to directly engage victim identification and aggressor identification, but in fact it can falsely lead to equating the two groups as combatants on the same moral platform.

This simply cannot be permitted! For humanity’s sake if for nothing else!

There was no common moral platform between the Serb aggressor and those that needed to defend themselves from this aggression.

Aleksandar Vucic must fail in his bid for a common day of remembrance for all victims! All victims were not equal and had no common purpose. Serbs’ purpose was to attack, kill, ethnically cleanse and take the territory belonging to other people while the purpose of Croats, Bosniaks, Kosovars… was to defend themselves and their self-preservation. That of course does not mean that individuals of the latter did not commit crimes but this is not about individuals this is about the “blanket” purpose and policy that existed on “national” levels at the time.


Andrej Plenkovic

Andrej Plenkovic

But: “Of course, all victims deserve to be honored and respected. But twenty years later, we should be vigilant and discourage Belgrade from attempts to whitewash its failed Greater Serbia policy by revising this watershed event of the 1991-1995 period. To conclude, if the membership in the EU, thorough reforms and development of good neighborly relations are indeed key priorities of Serbia, it is vital that they are underpinned by the courage of their leaders who accept the truth and are ready for clear expression of regret and excuse as a precondition for forgiveness and lasting reconciliation with their neighbours,” commented so aptly Andrej Plenkovic, Croatian EU Parliament representative. Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A., M.A.Ps. (Syd)

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