Helping Bosnia And Herzegovina On Its Way To EU Earns Croatia Knife In Back

Croatia's President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic at Halal Day 2016 ceremony in Croatia Photo:Goran Kovacic/Pixsell

Croatia’s President
Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic
at Halal Day 2016 ceremony in Croatia
Photo:Goran Kovacic/Pixsell

 

Very recently Russia mended its broken relations with Turkey. Turkey considers Bosnian Muslims/Bosniaks as its brothers. Russia is desirous of wielding influence in order to stop EU expanding to Eastern Europe where Russia keeps building its influence. In efforts to strengthen its hold on southeastern Europe the EU would like Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) to become a member of the EU and has in past few months depended upon Croatia quite a bit to assist BiH on its path to EU membership. Comes 31 October 2016 and Croatia’s ability to influence BiH’s path to the EU suddenly seems drastically affected by the arrest in Orasje, a northeastern BiH town bordering with Croatia, of 10 Croats of Croatia/BiH dual citizenship for alleged war crimes that allegedly happened almost 25 years ago. Croatian politicians and public media have been preoccupied with protesting against and commenting these arrests during the past week. It appears the arrests have a greater political significance as implicating Croatia in the chain of command in these alleged crimes than in actually naming or listing individualised and specified crimes alleged in the indictment issued by BiH state prosecution.

 

In about April 1992 when Serb led forces and rebels started bombing and attacking the town of Orasje and its surrounding clusters of villages – an area with majority Croat population situated at the northeastern border of Bosnia and Herzegovina with Croatia, the time ahead demanded that the town and its people be defended. Orasje managed to defend itself from the Serb onslaught only to wake up on 31 October 2016, two days after Prime Minister Andrej Plenovic’s visit to BiH, and see 10 Croats (members of the wartime Croatian Defense Council in Bosnia and Herzegovina [BiH] also known as Bosnian Croatian Army) arrested for alleged war crimes in 1992 and 1993 against prisoner of war Serbian nationals; the other 18 reportedly charged with these crimes of varying ethnicity have disappeared off the face of the earth – cannot be found.

Croatia's Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic upon his visit to BiH on 28 October 2016 spoke up for Croatia's support for all Croats living in BiH Photo: Hanza Media

Croatia’s Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic
upon his visit to BiH on 28 October 2016 spoke up
for Croatia’s support for all Croats
living in BiH
Photo: Hanza Media

1992 was the time when Serb advances into Bosnian Posavina in the north and into central Bosnia in the early weeks of Serb onslaught against Bosnia and Herzegovina were reversed by joint Muslim and Croat forces. Croat population of Orasje remained loyal to the cause of the Bosnian government (defend the country against Serbs) and put up a stiff resistance to the Serbs.

 

Croatian government and the rest of the political apparatus say they were totally surprised by these arrests in Orasje; that they never suspected anything like that could happen in the neighbouring, friendly BiH. But in reality, Bosnia and Herzegovina has for some time now been a melting pot of troubles to come as the 1995 ineffective Dayton peace agreement draws nearer the edge. And indeed the Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic has said that “the arrests have been in preparation for some time, but that their timing is indicative…Croatia has informed its partners in NATO and the EU about these arrests…” he said.

 

Frankly, who cares what NATO and the EU, or anyone else, think today when the very credibility and the just cause the defense of Orasje from Serbian onslaught in 1992/1993 is at stake here.

 

Attending a ceremony dedicated to Halal Day in Croatia on Wednesday 2 November 2016 Croatia’s president Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic also expressed utter surprise at the arrests of the ten Croats in Orasje, saying that “Orasje is an area where Bosniaks and Croats fought together for their bare existence, for their self-preservation (being), for their lives, and their fight is a symbol of resistance against Milosevic (Slobodan) and Karadzic (Radovan) regimes.” She said that we need to wait and see all the facts or until all the facts of those alleged crimes are confirmed.

 

Well then, president Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic – why have you not withdrawn your Ambassador from Bosnia and Herzegovina as an interim measure of protest against this atrocious political hunt against Croatian nationals who only defended their and their children’s and families’ lives? Why has the BiH Ambassador to Croatia not been sent packing on a temporary basis until controversial issues to do with these arrests are ironed out with pure facts?

Tomo Medved Croatian veterans' affairs minister Photo: Denis Ceric

Tomo Medved
Croatian veterans’ affairs minister
Photo: Denis Ceric

This would particularly be an appropriate measure given that there are reported serious difficulties with the indictments or charges, suggesting political bias. Croatian minister for veterans’ affairs Tomo Medved said Saturday 5 November that the Veterans are bitter about these arrests “because of the selective application of the command responsibility in these cases. If they (Bosnia and Herzegovina state prosecution) perform certain investigations and if certain criminal acts are found to exist then certain or concrete individual perpetrators should answer for those criminal acts, but this type of approach of widely applying command responsibility is unacceptable.” Source HRT News 5 November 2016.

 

Ilija Vucemilovic, president of veterans’ Tigers association, said “our brothers in Bosnian Posavina are bearing a heavy cross, going through injustice just because they defended their homes in impossible circumstances…”

Ilija Vucemilovic president of Tigers Croatian Veterans Association

Ilija Vucemilovic
president of Tigers Croatian Veterans Association

And so, while Croatian president, prime minister or everyone else cannot meddle in the indictment for crimes issued in Bosnia and Herzegovina or in the Bosnia’s criminal justice system they can certainly bring in measures of disapproval as to the contents or ways of those indictments until pure facts are revealed. These measures to my view would be to send the Bosnian Ambassador packing from Croatia until matter resolved and withdraw the Croatian Ambassador from Bosnia until matter of facts and specific individual responsibility for each crime is clear.

Considering some reports appearing in the media, the arrests are no surprise as the truth may well point to the fact that the Croatian intelligence services and secret police have under the Social Democrat, anti-Croatia communist government led by Zoran Milanovic and under president Ivo Josipovic, whose advisors appeared equally anti-Croat, in Croatia, purposefully engaged in hiding information as far back as 2014 that Bosnian state prosecution was investigating some 28 individuals in relation to wartime Orasje (and other places). Since President Grabar-Kitarovic expressed total surprise last week regarding the arrests one can assume that her predecessor Josipovic and his advisers passed on zilch information on the matter. One truly cannot but ascribe malice against Croatia in this. It is, furthermore, of no surprise that Bosnian Muslims have continued and will continue digging for possible indictments against everyone else for war crimes in order not to face their own horrendous, murderous actions during the war in BiH or to minimize the gravity of crimes committed by Bosniaks, which crimes still seem to evade full justice. They will forever protect the Mujahedeen and BiH Army forces that slaughtered thousands. Unless of course a significant number of war crimes indictments are thrown in their direction.

Croatian OM Andrej Plenkovic (L) Bakir Izetbegovic, president of BiH presidency (C) Dragan Covic, Croat representative on BiH presidency (R) 28 October 2016 Photo: Klix.ba

Croatian OM Andrej Plenkovic (L)
Bakir Izetbegovic, president of BiH presidency (C)
Dragan Covic, Croat representative on BiH presidency (R)
28 October 2016
Photo: Klix.ba

 

Many believe there will be many more indictments against Croatian nationals as Bosnia and Herzegovina ponders on its future as a country where all three nationalities (Bosniak/Muslims, Croats and Serbs) have equal rights and representation in parliament regardless of their numbers. Bosniaks do not want to give up their self-imposed superiority over Croats in the Federation part of BiH; Serbs don’t want to give up their autonomy from others in their ethnically cleansed Serbian Republic entity.

Whether these arrests will prove to be more a political message calling for Croats to desist from seeking equality in Bosnia and Herzegovina than a justified prosecution against individuals committing specific crimes, is yet to be seen. Certainly, the level these indictments seem to be directed at – general chain of command allegedly present at the time of the alleged crimes – does not appear to serve justice as well as prosecuting individuals who actually may have committed specific crimes would. The West and the EU will not accept they made a horrendous mistake with their 1995 Dayton Agreement plan and the calamitous distribution of power in Bosnia and Herzegovina, which in effect stripped the Croats of equal rights as one of three constitutional peoples of BiH. It is certainly suspicious that at this stage when Croats in BiH are talking up their equal rights to Serbs and Muslims/Bosniaks in BiH they are suddenly facing group indictments for war crimes. Regardless of the fact that war crimes may have occurred, and that individuals from all three constitutional peoples of BiH may have committed war crimes and need to face the courts, the move to catch only Croat suspects en masse at this time undoubtedly has the function of destabilizing Croatia’s efforts in assisting BiH in its path to EU membership and also in destabilising Croats’ rights as equals in BiH. Unacceptable! Croatia’s leadership must show more strength in defending the self-preservation people of Orasje were forced into during the Serb aggression. Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A., M.A.Ps. (Syd)

No Dogs, Catholics Or Muslims Allowed

Civilians of Sarajevo in Bosnia and Herzegovina 1993 running for cover to avoid Serb snipers during the city's siege Photo: Chris Helgren/Corbis

Civilians of Sarajevo in
Bosnia and Herzegovina 1993
running for cover to
avoid Serb snipers during the city’s siege
Photo: Chris Helgren/Corbis

The referendum held on 25 September 2016 in the entity of Serbian Republic (Republika Srpska/RS) within Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) regarding confirmation that 9 January should be set as public holiday for the celebration of the Day of Republika Srpska/Serbian Republic Statehood Day may to many in the outside world seem benign but given BiH’s geographic position coupled with the 1990’s history puts it all in a different light. But, in reality and in truth this frighteningly defiant move led by Milorad Dodik, RS president – and nourished and supported via Russia’s Vladimir Putin’s promises of financial supports – has all the hallmarks of officially legitimising war crimes, especially ethnic cleansing and genocide (including Srebrenica) committed during 1990’s against Croatians and Bosniaks/Muslims of Bosnia and Herzegovina/BiH in that self-proclaimed Serbian territory situated within sovereign borders of BiH.

 

It once again brings to a chilling reminder the chilling “banner”, the “warning sign” under which Serb aggression operated there in that BiH sovereign territory in the 1990’s: No Dogs, Catholics or Muslims Allowed.

 OHIO, Nov. 21, 1995 from Centre left: President Slobodan Milosevic of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, President Alija Izetbegovic of the Republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina, and President Franjo Tudjman of the Republic of Croatia sign the Dayton Peace Accords. Photo: U.S. Air Force/Staff Sgt. Brian Schlumbohm

OHIO, Nov. 21, 1995
from Centre left:
President Slobodan Milosevic
of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia,
President Alija Izetbegovic
of the Republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina,
and President Franjo Tudjman of the Republic of Croatia
sign the Dayton Peace Accords.
Photo: U.S. Air Force/Staff Sgt. Brian Schlumbohm

 

In November 1995 the primarily US-driven international Dayton Accords peace agreement ended the war in BiH and it preserved BiH as a single sovereign state, divided into two largely autonomous parts/entities: the Bosniak-Croatian Federation and the Serbian Republic. Dayton Accords, although made having peace in mind, in essence meant that peace had no chance as no conductive environment was created for proper reconciliation, in many ways the Serb aggressor was rewarded with its own region to govern autonomously. Dayton Accords agreement had sealed the fate of BiH as a sovereign state made up of three constitutional peoples (Bosniaks, Croats and Serbs) into a perpetual state of ethnic rivalry, recriminations, dysfunction and fear that Serbs were only “an inch” away from achieving their initial goal of creating their own sovereign state from parts of BiH’s sovereign territory they’d cleansed of all non-Serbs.

 

Milorad Dodik had officially, with apparent newfound determination, begun threatening to hold a referendum on secession of Serbian Republic from BiH in 2014 if Bosnia does not become a confederation of three states (Serb, Croat and Bosniak). At that time he sought to seize on the Crimean referendum and subsequent Russian annexation as a political and moral guide and an example of self-determination in action, however wrong, tragic and misguided these actions may have been held by the leaders of the Western democratic world. Dodik had planned for the referendum regarding 9 January as the Day of Serb Republic/ Statehood Day (which date by the way coincides with the Serb Orthodox religious holiday) to be held on 15 November 2015 but this and any such referendum was thwarted via BiH Constitutional Court’s ruling, making such referendums illegal.

Milorad Dodik September 2016 Photo: Reuters/ Dado Ruvic

Milorad Dodik
September 2016
Photo: Reuters/ Dado Ruvic

Defying BiH Constitutional Court and BiH Parliament, to which Serbian Republic answers, the referendum held Sunday 25 September saw the Serbs living in that entity in overwhelming numbers voting Yes to declaring 9 January as the Day of Serbian Republic. The relatively very few Croats and Bosniaks now living in the Serb Republic (having returned there post 1995 Dayton Accords agreement) had refused to vote in the referendum because, in essence, the referendum represents Dodik’s rehearsal for an eventual secession of Serb Republic from BiH and, therefore, the destruction of BiH as the world knows it now.

A further element of defiance and repulsive attempt to legitimise genocide and ethnic cleansing committed by Serbs in this referendum can be seen through Biljana Plavsic’s comments as she voted in the RS representative office in Belgrade, Serbia. Biljana Plavsic, whose actions in 1992 as a member of collective presidencies of both Bosnia and the breakaway Serbian Republic of Bosnia constituted crimes against humanity and who actively supported the ethnic cleansing of Bosniaks and Bosnian Croats in Serb-held lands, who is an ICTY convicted war criminal said last week that the referendum represents a defense of Serbian Republic – of that in which she herself had participated in the 1990’s.

Whether the leaders of Croatians and Bosniaks living in BiH consider Dodik’s defiant move with the referendum as some kind of an internationally acceptable foundation for a movement that would split BiH into three different ethnically defined sovereign states (Bosniak, Croat, Serb) is at this stage a disquieting point occupying a great deal of political analyses space throughout the world. As desirable as contemplation of such a division of BiH into three sovereign states may appear to each of the three ethnic groups at this moment may be, this articulated in the media desirability or political assessment in essence masks the real and dangerous prospect of the possibility of repeated Serb violence and aggression against Croatians and Bosniaks in BiH.

 

Croatian refugee families from Serb Republic still today in their thousands seek return to their rightful homes in Banja Luka. Photo: HINA

Croatian refugee families from Serb Republic
still today in their thousands seek return to their rightful homes in Banja Luka.
Photo: HINA

Dodik’s defiance with holding the referendum and his subsequent defiance of the BiH State Prosecutor by refusing to answer a summons to appear before the prosecutor regarding his breach of the Constitutional Court order that declared the referendum illegal, are acts that are very likely to motorise the Serb population’s energy for renewed attacks against non-Serbs in BiH. Dodik has found it handy to interpret everything commented against his referendum as threatening to his personal safety and so:
I will not go to the prosecutor’s office in Sarajevo but I am ready to give a statement in any other judiciary office in the Serb Republic,” Dodik told a news conference 27 September 2016. He therefore rejects the jurisdiction of the government of Bosnia Herzegovina to which Serbian Republic entity must answer. He has therefore, in his mind and in his deeds already cut Serbian Republic’s ties with BiH.
If Dodik fails to comply with a summons, and fails to justify it, the prosecution will then issue an arrest warrant,” said Bosnia’s Security Minister Dragan Mektic, a Bosnian Serb.

Map of Bosnia and Herzegovina with entities of Serb Republic/ Republika Srpska and Croat Bosniak Federation

Map of Bosnia and Herzegovina
with entities of
Serb Republic/ Republika Srpska
and Croat Bosniak Federation

 

All this says that Bosnia and Herzegovina is in a more dangerous state than at any other time since Dayton Accords in 1995, with looming possibility of renewed violence and crimes against humanity. It confirms that, despite atrocities committed in early 1990’s and guilt confirmed via international criminal tribunal and domestic criminal courts, Serbs have not learned to keep their fingers off sovereign territories and state borders that have been established/recognised on an international level for many decades. Collective catharsis associated with the atrocities and war crimes as some guarantee of lasting peace in BiH has made no progress despite Dayton Accords and the UN’s International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY). This latest behavior of Bosnian Serbs evidences the fact that reconciliation in BiH (in former Yugoslavia, really) has been a pipe dream, and a utopian dream concocted by the West and the European Commission who thought that equating the aggressor with the victim would reap positive results of reconciliation and peace. Permitting Serbian Republic to exist within BiH in the first place was the beginning of that pipe dream, which was above all cruel to the victims of war crimes and, as such, it was never going to work. Daytom Accord should have either split BiH into three distinctive sovereign states (Bosniak, Croat and Serb) or insisted on retaining BiH as a single sovereign state without entities or divisions of autonomous territory between its constituent ethnic/national groups.

But as things have panned out, the world must cringe with disgust watching the referendum signatures of the majority of the genocidal Bosnian Serb “nation” celebrating without an inkling of shame or remorse their “state” founded on war crimes, forced deportations, ethnic cleansing, concentration camps, genocide, torture…and all that permitted by way of world leaders’ benign political statements that offer only political analyses of the past and no visible intention for decisive involvement to stop such lunacy that is creating new victims of the imposed ethnic Serb superiority in that region. This is a true perversion of justice for the victims of crimes against humanity and freedom to live peacefully anywhere within one’s country’s sovereign borders.

By way of referendum for Serb Republic Statehood Day Bosnian Serbs are erecting a monument to those who committed genocide. This comes without real sanctions and practical intervention against this shame for humanity as all of the political analyses and statements by world leaders about this appear more benevolent toward this Serb cause of celebrating genocide than toward anything else. Turbulent times are on the cards once again for Bosnia and Herzegovina; for Bosniaks and Croatians. Together with political instability in Macedonia, violent protests in Kosovo, the destabilisation of Bosnia and Herzegovina will have a destructive influence on the entire Balkan region. The referendum in Republika Srpska also perfectly shows how history can be used to drum up hostility between nations. Desirous of peace and life without fear, a life that moves away from daily infliction of pain contained in politically live reminders of the 1990’s war, Bosnian Croats may do well by utilising this latest practically unchecked Bosnian Serb defiance and seek their own independence or autonomy within or without BiH. Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A., M.A.Ps. (Syd)

US Congresswoman Calls For Equality For Croats In Bosnia And Herzegovina

 

 

US. Representative Janice Hahn

US. Representative Janice Hahn

US Congresswoman Janice Hahn submitted July 31 to the House of Representatives a resolution demanding that President Barack Obama appoint a special representative for the Balkans and Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) because of the country’s delays in its Euro-Atlantic path and drew attention to the consistent reduction and erosion of rights of Croats in BiH because of which there’s blockades and a political deadlock.

Janice Hahn’s Resolution 705 Recommends “the designation of a Presidential Special Envoy to the Balkans to evaluate the successes and shortcomings of the implementation of the Dayton Peace Accords in Bosnia and Herzegovina, to provide policy recommendations, and to report back to Congress within one year”. (Resolution 705 PDF)

Whereas only the full protection of equal political, economic, legal and religious rights of all the constituent peoples (Bosniak, Croat, Serb) and others throughout the territory of BiH, including the inalienable right to return, will guarantee the future stability, functionality, and effectiveness of the country…”

In the Resolution Congresswoman Hahn has noted that the number of Croats in Bosnia has halved from 820,000 to about 460,000. “It is unacceptable that this negative demographic trend is reflected in the reduction of constitutional rights of Croats in BiH, as that reduction directly causes political and administrative dysfunctionality of the country,” Hahn stated in the resolution.

Hahn recognises the poor functionality of the Federation of BiH entity in which Bosniaks (Muslims) are seen as oppressors of Croats and their constitutional rights and that this dis-functionality only fuels the separatist tendency of Serbs within the Srbian Republic entity, which of course threatens, as she says, the very integrity of the country (BiH) as a whole.

“Now, therefore, be it
Resolved, That the House of Representatives –
1. reiterates its support for the sovereignty,territorial integrity, and legal continuity of BiH within its internationally recognized borders, as well as the equality of its three constituent peoples and others within an integrated multiethnic country;

10. reiterates that a fully functional Federation of BiH entity is essential for the future of BiH as a functional and stable state and therefore any envisaged reform should take into account protection of the constitutional rights of all, including Bosnian Croats—demographically smallest of the three Dayton Peace Accords recognized constituent peoples in BiH—and prevent further weakening of their position.”

Press Release dated 12 August and released through The National Federation of Croatian Americans (NFCA) Public Affairs Director Joe Foley in Washington states that NFCA highly commends US Representative Janice Hahn of California for her introduction in the US House of Representatives of legislation to appoint a Special Envoy for the Balkans, in particular Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Indeed, I would think that there is no Croat nor a fair-minded person of any ethnicity anywhere in the world that would not support and agree with what Congresswoman Hahn has set her mind on achieving in BiH: equality for all ethnic groups in a country where constituency is constitutionally defined by specific ethnic groups, taking an initiative to bring to a stop the deplorable treatment of Croats in BiH while Bosniaks (Muslims) and Serbs compete vigorously for separatist superiority based on their own ethnicity.

Keeping BiH as a sovereign country but organised into three ethnic entities (Bosniak, Croat, Serb) each of which would have certain powers that ensure equality is not only a necessary “re-shuffle” of administration and political clouts that would catalyse greater stability and economic progress in BiH but such power-bases would, I believe, be conducive to ensuring that victims of all war crimes finally receive their deserved justice. One cannot avoid the unsettling reality in which war crimes committed by Bosnian Muslims (Bosniaks) during the 1990’s war, in comparison to those committed by Serbs and Croats, seem to have mysteriously fallen by the wayside of justice. Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A., M.A.Ps. (Syd)

Report of interest:
“During the 1992-1995 war, a large number of Islamic fighters traveled to BIH to aid the Bosnian Muslim war effort. Several hundred of those fighters remained, a significant number of whom are active in Islamic fundamentalist congregations and organizations. These foreign elements have contributed to the gradual radicalization of certain segments of the Bosnian Muslim community. In October 2005, a small group of individuals with extremist affiliations was arrested on suspicion of planning terrorist acts. In April 2010, members of a radical Wahhabist movement detonated a bomb, killing one police officer and injuring six, at a police station in Bugojno, located 70 kilometers southwest of Sarajevo. The most recent terrorist attack took place in October 2011, when a gunman affiliated with a local Wahhabist movement shot over 100 high-velocity rounds at the U.S. Embassy, damaging the building and injuring one police officer, says in the US Department of State, Bureau of Diplomatic Security, 2013 Report on Crime and Safety in BiH.

Related Post:

http://inavukic.com/2014/07/13/towards-a-croatian-entity-in-bosnia-and-herzegovina/

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