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News 01 Feb 18

Bosniak War Victims Condemn Croat Entity Call

Bosniak war victims groups have criticised a Bosnian Croat declaration which, among other things, lends support to the Croat campaign to have an entity of their own in Bosnia.

Mladen Lakic
A prayer meeting was held in last November in Mostar ahead of the Bosnian Croats verdict in the Hague. Photo: Facebook.

The Mostar Association of War Victims, an NGO gathering Bosniak [Muslim] victims of the 1992-5 war in Bosnia, has condemned the initiative of group of Bosnian Croats, calling for the formation of a third entity in Bosnia besides the existing two.

Edin Batlak, from the Association of War Victims, told Bosnian news website Klix.ba on Wednesday that the initiative was far from the European values that main Croat parties - whose members launched the initiative - claim to advocate.

Bosnian Croat representatives in the western town of Tomislavgrad, at a meeting of the local cantonal assembly on Monday, adopted a declaration that criticised the Hague tribunal convictions of Bosnian Croat leaders and called for third, Croat entity in the country.

Following the 1995 Dayton Ohio Peace Agreement that ended the war in Bosnia, the country was divided into two entities - the Serb-dominated Republika Srpska and the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, which is home mainly to Bosniaks and Croats but in which Croats are a minority.

The Hague Tribunal, the ICTY, last November angered many Croats and Bosnian Croats when it found six former Bosnian Croat political or military officials guilty of crimes against humanity and other crimes against Bosniaks in so-called Herceg-Bosna, a statelet created by Bosnian Croats during the war.

One of those convicted, Slobodan Prljak, committed suicide in court as his verdict was being read out.

"All statements made by the Croatian leaders since the Hague conviction are in complete contradiction with [their] declarative European orientation," Edin Batlak, from the Mostar Association of War Victims, told Klix.ba.

All 20 Croat representatives of Bosnia's Canton 10 supported the declaration, however. Two Bosnian Serbs abstained from voting and two Bosniak representatives voted against it, and sent it to the Federation entity's Constitutional Court to deem whether it is against the laws.

"This is something that cannot be an official document and I hope the Constitutional Court will rule on it as soon as possible," Jasenko Tufekcic, from the Party of Democratic Action, SDA, from Livno, the main Bosniak party, told BIRN.

The declaration insists that Herceg-Bosna was not a separatist body. It "was not established with the intent of separation, but with the intention of defending Croatian territories [in Bosnia]", the declaration said.

It further calls on Bosnian Croats to organise following this declaration in order "to fulfil rights of Croats in Bosnia".

The term "Herzeg Bosnian Canton" has been deemed unconstitutional by the Federation's Constitutional Court but it is still used locally.

“The resolution ... not to recognise the verdict for a joint criminal enterprise is in no way surprising," Bosniak political activist Nerin Dizdar said.

"We should not forget that the institutions of this canton continue to use the name and characteristics [Herceg-Bosna] which the Constitutional Court of the Federation has declared unconstitutional," Dizdar added.

Many officials in Croatia, and many Bosnian Croats, advocate the formation of a new entity in Bosnia, which would be Croat-dominated, similar to the Serb-led Republika Srpska.

As the smallest of the three main nations in Bosnia, they say they are marginalised and outvoted in the Federation entity.

Croatian President Kolinda Grabar Kitarovic has said she would support the legitimate decisions of the representatives of Croats in Bosnia, and would back a "third" entity if it could be agreed.

The ruling party in Croatia, the Croatian Democratic Union, HDZ, strongly supports reform of the election law in Bosnia.



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