Croatian Parliament Declaration On Position of Croats In Bosnia and Herzegovina

From Left:Zvonko Milas, State Secretary, Central Office for Croats living outside Croatia,
Zeljko Glasnovic, Member of Croatian Parliament for the diaspora,
Gordan Jandrokovic, Speaker of Croatian Parliament,
Marija Pejcinovic Buric, Minister for Foreign and European Affairs
Photo: Pixsell

The Croatian Parliament has Friday 14 December 2018 adopted the proposed Declaration on the Position of Croats in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) (PDF Declaration). Votes for were 81, against 11 and abstaining 4. Hence, the desired consensus was not reached, which leaves space for ongoing political manipulation and set backs in the lobbying for strengthening of the power in decision making as far as Croat role is concerned there. Issues that stand out particularly relate to the need to change BiH Electoral Act so that Croats are given the prerogative to vote for their own representatives in Presidency and parliament and those relating to the full and deserved status and recognition of the 1990’s war forces Croatian Defence Council (HVO).

Advocating strongly for equality of Croatian people in that country the Declaration (Link for PDF version of the Declaration and Amendments)calls for changes to the Constitution of Bosnia and Herzegovina and its Electoral Act. It states that “The Croatian people in Bosnia and Herzegovina are a part of one and indivisible Croatian nation, regardless in which country and in which part of the world members of that nation live.”

In its ascent to parliamentary vote the proposed Declaration had given rise to numerous criticisms from the opposition, particularly Social Democrats, who held that it represented meddling in another country’s internal affairs. Accordingly, the original text discussed in parliament on 12 December has partly been changed.

Croatian people of Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) are standing on the fence of their survival. Their status as equal people to Bosniaks and Serbs in BiH is continually eroded to the point that, despite protests and attempts to change the Electoral law, their representative in the Presidency of BiH is elected by the Bosniaks. Without a doubt, and based on jurisdiction installed within the 1995 Dayton Agreement and subsequently in the Constitution of BiH, Croatia has an obligation in protecting the constituency, equality and interests of the Croatian people in BiH. Hence, given the developments since 1995 that saw increasing deterioration in the status of Croats in BiH that places their very existence there in jeopardy, the time has arrived when Croatia has no alternative but to formulate its clear political framework that would help achieve and sustain such paramount rights of Croatian people in BiH.

To say that the debate in the Croatian parliament on Wednesday 12 December 2018 on the proposed Croatian Parliament Declaration on the Position of Croats in Bosnia and Herzegovina was heated would be a monumental understatement. Not only was the debate that lasted some ten hours into the night heated but it clearly demonstrated the fact that a Croatian parliamentary consensus on the Declaration was almost impossible to achieve. The bottom line to the disparity on whether the Croatian parliament should pass such a declaration lies in the evidently irreconcilable views between the governing majority and parts of the opposition on the role Croatia should play when it comes to its direct stand ad activities regarding Croats in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The “liberal” opposition headed by Social Democrats (former communist league of Yugoslavia) considers the declaration to be damaging and an encroachment into internal political affairs of a neighbouring country while another portion of the opposition, e.g. Hrvoje Zekanovic/HRAST who vied for a third entity (Croatian) in BiH, Zeljko Glasnovic/the MP for the Croatian diaspora who especially emphasised the need to cement the recognition of the Croatian Defence Council (HVO) which was instrumental in protecting the borders of Croatia during the 1990’s war, considers that the proposed text is lukewarm and demands more concrete solutions favouring the protection of Croats within BiH. Proposed by the Parliamentary Committee for Croats Living Outside Croatia and the ruling Croatian Democratic Union the Declaration seeks to strengthen the position on Croats in Bosnia and Herzegovina; to preserve the political subjectivity of the Croatian people in Bosnia and Herzegovina particularly because of geostrategic influences being a first class strategic Croatian state and national interest.

The Declaration warns of marginalisation of the Croatian people in BiH and calls for changes to the Constitution and Electoral Act of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The Declaration, of course, would have no direct power to make constitutional reforms in Bosnia and Herzegovina but a consensus on such a political framework would have been likely to strengthen advocacy for major positive changes that would enable the equality of the Croatian people in BiH.

The Croatian Minister for Foreign and European Affairs Marija Pejcinovic Buric rejected criticism by the opposition that the declaration encroaches on internal political affairs in the neighbouring country. “The Republic of Croatia is only asking for the Dayton Agreement to be respected along with constitutional decisions by the Constitutional Court in Bosnia and Herzegovina,” said Pejcinovic Buric.

While the Declaration would not be binding for Croatia or Bosnia and Herzegovina, the BiH presidency in Sarajevo (for which the Croat representive Zeljko Komsic was recently voted in by majority Bosniak/Muslim vote) already views it as another attack on Bosnia’s sovereignty after the two countries became involved in a previous dispute about the Bosnian general elections in October.

In its current form the Declaration does claim that the election of Zeljko Komsic as the Croat member of Bosnia’s tripartite presidency at October’s polls was not in line with the Dayton peace agreement that ended the 1992-95 Bosnian war because Komsic was elected mostly by Bosniak votes, not by those of Bosnian Croats.

For the successful functioning of Bosnia at all its levels it is essential that all its constituent peoples [Bosniaks, Croats and Serbs] and citizens be equal, to trust and believe in Bosnia’s future,” the declaration says.

With this declaration the Croatian Parliament seeks, among other things, from the appropriate institutions in the Republic of Croatia the following:

In order to realise the constitutional, legal and strategic documents and the international obligations of the Republic of Croatia in relation to Croats in BiH and towards BiH:

– that the Republic of Croatia, as a signatory and guarantor of the Washington and Dayton Agreements, and a member of the Peace Implementation Council in BiH, report to the UN Security Council and the PIC Steering Board members that the imposed amendments to the Entity Laws and the imposed changes to the Election the Dayton Peace Agreement was severely violated. Since the balance between the constitutional position and the rights of the constituent peoples in BiH at the expense of the Croatian people, but also to the detriment of the stability and functionality of BiH, the Croatian Parliament charges the representatives of the Republic of Croatia to seek before the international organisations responsible for implementing the Dayton Peace Agreement respect for the Dayton Peace Accords and that the imposed changes be removed via changes to the Constitution and the Election Law of BiH;

– that the Republic of Croatia, as a member of the Peace Implementation Council and as a member of NATO and EU in multilateral and bilateral capacities, advocates and supports the urgent changes of the Constitution and the Election Law of BiH, which would lead to the harmonisation and standardisation of the equal constitutional position of the three constituent peoples in BiH, in an institutional and administrative territorial view;

– the appropriate institutions of the Republic of Croatia are invited to increase their assistance to institutions of education, health, culture, media and Catholic Church institutions in BiH;

– to include institutions of strategic importance for Croats in BiH in the form of financial assistance from the Republic of Croatia, with full respect for their program and personnel independence and the principles of project business aimed at realising real needs and solving specific problems;

– to establish financial instruments for investment in development and employment in the majority Croatian areas, in areas where Croats lived in significant numbers before the war and from which they were forcefully deported or displaced and thus prevent departure and support the return of deported Croats to BiH;

– to stimulate new investments of Croatian companies operating and investing in BiH, especially in places with the Croat majority, where the number of Croats has been drastically reduced due to the war, due to the discriminatory policy of national majority in the Entities and counties on whose territory they are, their access to employment is disabled;

– to encourage cooperation with all local, county and state entities and representatives of the Republic of Croatia who have experience in using funds from European and other programs in the design of future projects and cross-border cooperation that would respond to the real needs of all media in BiH, especially in the areas of to which economic, scientific, academic, cultural and other subjects fulfilling the needs of Croats have capacities for the purposeful and efficient use of available resources, but also in areas where parts of the Croatian people are in a state of inadequate meeting of the needs in these areas;

– to fully valorise the role of the Croatian Defence Council (HVO) in the defense of the Republic of Croatia and the Croatian territories in BiH, but also in the preservation of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the whole of BiH, and to support the resolution of the status and the existential questions relating to the defence population, especially the disabled and the victims of the Homeland War;

– to give equality to Croatians outside Croatia in exercising their right to vote with other citizens of the Republic of Croatia in accordance with the Constitution of the Republic of Croatia, by introducing postal, preferably electronic voting, and by considering harmonisation of the number of representatives representing Croats outside the Republic of Croatia with the proportion of that population in the total number of voters.
Ina Vukic

Zeljko Glasnovic Lays Wreath In Honour Of Australian and Croatian War Fallen

Centre L – Zeljko Glasnovic, MP
Centre R – Darren Chester, MP
Australian War Memorial 20 September 2018

Croatian Army and Croatian Defence Council General Zeljko Glasnovic, Member of Croatian Parliament for the diaspora was the first Croatian official guest to lead a Last Post Ceremony at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra. On Thursday, September 20, 2018, the Parliamentary Representative Glasnovic solemnly laid the wreath during this ceremony in Canberra, in honor of and in memory of all fallen members of Croatian and Australian military forces who participated in past wars and today’s conflicts around the world. On that occasion, Glasnovic also gifted the Australian War Memorial the commemorative plaque of Croatian Defence Council (HVO) First Guard Brigade Ante Bruno Busic, which attracted moving attention and respect from the leaders of the Australian War Memorial. The wreath laid at the Australian War Memorial contained as its centrepiece the flags of the Republic of Croatia and Australia, and the wreath laying ceremony was attended by numerous Australians, including several classes of school children from various cities of Australia, Darren Chester, a member of Australia’s Parliament for the National Party of Australia and Major General Brian Dawson of the Australian War Memorial, Croats of Australia, members of the patriotic tour of Croats in Australia – Dr. Josip Jurcevic, Dr. Tomislav Sunic and Mr. Igor Vukic – and Mrs. Sandra Tvrtkovic, Croatian Embassy’s Charge d’Affaires in Canberra.

Zeljko Gasnovic, MP
Laying wreath at Australian War Memorial
20 September 2018

Nothing in Australia evokes more emotion and respect than the Last Post to military war victims. In Australia’s Military Tradition The Last Post is an event that marks the end of daily activity and on commemorative occasions it also marks a moment of reflection and remembering.

Wreath in honour of Croatian and Australian war fallen
Australian WAr Memorial, 20 September 2018

At the end of each day, starting at 4.55 p.m., so too on September 20th, the Australian War Memorial in Canberra farewells its visitors with the Last Post Ceremony. The celebration began with the singing of the Australian national anthem, followed by touching lamentation of war victims accompanied by the sounding of the Last Post.

Individual stories, lamentations, are extracted from the Roll of Honour, which contains 102,000 Australians who have given their lives in wars and other military conflicts over the past century.

Zeljko Glasnovic, MP
Australian War Memorial
20 September 2018

Asked for a comment after this magnificent ceremony and remembrance of the victims of wars in the Australian War Memorial in Canberra, Zeljko Glasnovic told the media:

The tragedy of the Croatian state is that it still, to this day, does not have a central monument for all war victims. There is no monument to the fallen Croatian soldiers who left their bones from the Carpathians to the Austrian border and the mountains and valleys of northern Italy, there is also not even the slightest of interest to open a museum that will celebrate our long and famous war history. This is why the average Croats know who Bosko Buha and the chimney-sweep from Kapelski kresovi but have never heard of Cvitan Galic, the Lepant battle and the siege of Odzak in June 1945. It looks like an old communist mantra (we have to worry about the future, not the past) – idiotism continues and while Croatians are not capable of linking the consequences and causes we will not have Croatia but Croslavia. Without cleansing the past and applying the lessons learned in all areas, we cannot create a functional future or be able to distinguish and recognise the truth from lies.

Australian Major General Brian Dawson (L)
Croatian General Zeljko Glasnovic (R)
Australian War Memorial 20 September 2018

The moral and historical disgrace is that no government has ever attempted to compile an official list of killed Croatian soldiers from the First and Second World Wars, while other countries respect their dead and try to bury their remains with the highest military honours. We forget to remember that the communist government had ploughed over the graves of Croatian soldiers after 1945. If nothing else we owe the truth to all the dead, and to their offspring – respect. Today in Croatia they have neither. ” Ina Vukic

Croatian Defence Council HVO Celebrates 25th Anniversary

25 Anniversary of HVO
Celebration in Mostar
8 April 2017

While the 25th Anniversary of the founding of the Croatian Defence Council (HVO) in Bosnia and Herzegovina is to celebrated under the auspices of the Croatian National Assembly in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the HVO and Homeland War unit for the veterans across more than 42 municipalities during this weekend and after, it was the celebrations held in Mostar on Saturday 8th April that appeared to fill the air with a rush of jubilant pride that the success of defending the Croatian people and their lands as well as the state of Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) from brutal aggression in early 1990’s generates. Celebrations in Mostar commenced Saturday with a Mass for those who lost their lives defending their homeland, followed by a solemn procession, the lighting of candles and laying down of wreaths of remembrance; a celebratory Academy was held afterwards.

Croatian Defence Council (HVO) was founded on 8th April 1992 as a response to the open aggression against Croats in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

25th Anniversary of HVO

Attending the celebratory Academy in Mostar were officials representing the Croatian people in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatian government and parliamentary delegation, members of BiH armed forces and veterans’ associations, war commanders, church dignitaries, Croatian Generals’ Assembly representatives and many others. Main speakers at the Academy were Dragan Covic, Croatian member of BiH Presidency, general Stanko Sopta and Croatia’s veterans’ affairs minister Tomo Medved.

 

When others weren’t capable to undertake defending the country from aggression Croatian Defence Council (HVO) was the first to stand up in defending Bosnia and Herzegovina. HVO, together with the Croatian Army and Army of BiH liberated BiH and thus made peace possible, said Bozo Ljubic, president of Central Council of Croatian National Council in BiH.

25th Anniversary of HVO
Mostar 8 April 2017

25th Anniversary HVO
Mostar 8 April 2017

The central message sent to the world from the celebration was that of unity and togetherness with a determined stand to ensure the survival of the Croatian people as equals in the multi-ethnic country consisting of Croats, Bosniaks (Muslims) and Serbs.

Attending the celebrations in Mostar Croatia’s veterans affairs minister Tomo Medved said at the Academy that without the establishment of HVO the survival of the Croatian people in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the survival of Bosnia and Herzegovina state would have been questionable and in dire jeopardy. He pledged support for the persecuted Croatian veterans from Bosnia and Herzegovina war (through which there is an attempt to change recent Croatian history and Croatian heroes persecuted) and to defending the truth about the Homeland War, further adding that the Ministry and the Government of Croatia shall not forget the Croatian victims and the suffering and announced the passing in Croatia’s parliament of a unique law on the rights of veterans that would also include the rights of members of HVO.

Tomo Medved
Croatian Minister for veterans’ affairs

This is an occasion in which we need to remember the path through which HVO formations went, the immeasurable contribution to the preservation of home and homeland and Croats in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Medved said.

25 Anniversary of HVO
Mostar 8 April 2017

It is to be remembered that HVO was the main armed force and the highest executive and administrative body for the Croatian Republic of Herceg-Bosna created during the times of Homeland War in Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1990’s and the main armed force for Croats in Bosnia and Herzegovina serving the goal of defending Croats at times of aggression.

 

On 18 November 1991 the Croatian political leadership in Bosnia and Herzegovina founded the Croatian Community of Herceg-Bosna. Due to the need to defend itself Herceg-Bosna organised the formation of the Croatian Defence Council (HVO). Only a couple of days after its formation HVO entered into large and intense battles with the much more powerful Serbian army and the Yugoslav Peoples’ Army around Kupres, where it sustained large losses, and from 13 – 23 April 1992 destroyed the large Serbian offensive around Livno and its charge towards Herzegovina and Neretva region. On 23rd June 1992 HVO seized in Capljina the first army barracks belonging to the aggressor.

 

After the signing of the Dayton Peace Accords in 1995 and at the international community’s insistence HVO is defined as the Croatian component of the Army of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and after the 2005 reforms it was transformed into the First Infantry Regiment, one of the three regiments of the Armed Forces of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

25 Anniversary HVO
Mostar 8 April 2017

From 1992 to 1995 of the terrible war, not counting the civilians 6337 Croatian men were killed as members of HVO. HVO had a key role in liberating significant parts of Bosnia and Herzegovina and as such it remains a force deserving the accolades of the highest of courage and heroism. Ina Vukic

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