News 07 Sep 17

Bosnia War Victims Slam Croatia President’s Terror Claims

Bosniak war victims have accused Croatia’s President Kolinda Grabar Kitarovic of damaging Bosnia and Herzegovina with baseless claims that the country is turning into a hub for Islamic terrorists.

Igor Spaic
BIRN
Sarajevo
Kolinda Grabar Kitarovic. Photo: BETAPHOTO/HINA/Lana SLIVAR DOMINIC/DS.

Several Bosniak war victims’ associations sent an open letter to Croatia’s President Kolinda Grabar Kitarovic on Wednesday condemning her suggestion that Bosnia and Herzegovina is a threat to regional stability because of Islamic radicalism.

The victims’ associations, headed by the Mothers of Srebrenica, a group of women who lost their children to the 1995 Srebrenica genocide, accused Grabar Kitarovic of “causing damage to Bosnia and Herzegovina”.

In December, Grabar Kitarovic said thousands of ISIS fighters had returned from the Middle East to Bosnia, quoting a report by the Bosnian State Investigation and Protection Agency.

Bosnia’s security minister disputed this, saying he did not know where Kitarovic got those numbers.

Alleged terrorists in Bosnia has since then become an ongoing theme in Croatian media.

On Tuesday, Croatian newspaper Globus published an article saying that the Croatian secret service had informed Grabar Kitarovic that there has been an increase in Islamic radical groups setting up base near the Croatian border, and that there are between 5,000 and 10,000 Islamic radicals living in Bosnia.

The war victims’ associations told Grabar Kitarovic that the claim could negatively affect Bosnia’s bid for EU membership.

“We don’t know if you are aware of the scope of damage you are producing for Bosnia and Herzegovina and the country’s path towards Europe with your false statements, because why would Europe want a ‘country with 10,000 potential terrorists’?!” they said.

They also argued that such statements discourage investments in Bosnia and repel tourists, but above all, damage relations between Croats in Bosniaks in Bosnia.

They told Grabar Kitarovic that they were disappointed in her.

“In you, we saw hope for some better times and relations in this region. Unfortunately, we grossly miscalculated,” they said.

Other foreign statesmen have also accused Bosnia of becoming increasingly Islamised.

Czech President Milos Zeman told Czech news site Blesk last week that Bosnia is more or less a Muslim country, and could become a base for returning ISIS fighters.

The week before, Austrian Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz alleged that women in Sarajevo and Pristina, Kosovo’s capital, are being paid to wear full veils.

Both statements were immediately denied by Bosnian officials and local Islamic religious authorities.

Bosnia’s Security Minister Dragan Mektic even told local news site Klix on Tuesday that there was a possibility that a terrorist act might be staged by “para-secret service agencies” close to certain politicians in order to legitimise false claims of increased Islamic radicalism in Bosnia.

Mektic would not name which agencies he was referring to, or give any further information.

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