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Croatian Rain Falls on Bosnian Parade

Bosniaks and Croatian war veterans irate over Croatian ambassador’s visit to the Bosnian Serb capital.

11 January 2019

Croatian ambassador to Bosnia Ivan Del Vechio (pictured) was summoned for consultations after reports emerged that he attended celebrations of a controversial holiday Wednesday in Bosnia’s Serb entity.

 

Republika Srpska refuses to accept a 2015 decision by Bosnia’s Constitutional Court that it cannot celebrate its statehood day on 9 January. The court said observing the holiday on that date constituted discrimination against non-Serbs because the day is also a Serbian Orthodox holiday.

 

Croatian Foreign Minister Marija Pejcinovic Buric said today the ministry had not been informed of Del Vechio’s intention to attend the celebration. Del Vechio "had made a wrong call," she remarked, adding that Croatia had never taken part in the celebration of the Republika Srpska holiday Total Croatia News reports.

 

Del Vechio admitted he was in Republika Srpska’s administrative capital, Banja Luka, but denied taking part in a holiday parade, Balkan Insight reports.

 

The incident brought condemnation both from Croatian war veterans and the Bosniak community in Bosnia, underlining the tangled nature of Croatia’s relations with Serbia – its main enemy in the Yugoslav wars – and Bosnia, where Croats share power with the larger Serb and Bosniak communities.

 

The head of the Bosnian government, Denis Zvizdic, said Del Vechio’s visit to Banja Luka “will disable any form of personal contact and further cooperation.”

 

Croatia’s veterans affairs and defense ministers strongly criticized Del Vechio’s visit.

 

Attending such a ceremony "is inappropriate conduct, particularly considering the fact that a war criminal, convicted in Croatia of grave war crimes, was decorated on that occasion," Total Croatia News quoted War Veterans Minister Tomo Medved as saying, in a reference to the posthumous honor given convicted war criminal Slavko Lisica, a Yugoslav Army officer who ordered the shelling of Croatia’s coastal city of Sibenik in 1992.

 

 

  • Russia’s envoy was the only other ambassador to attend the Banja Luka celebrations. Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic and Defense Minister Aleksandar Vulin headed the Serbian delegation.

 

  • Croatian-Bosnian relations have also been muddled by the attitudes of some Bosnian Croats who call for a separate, autonomous Croat entity. When the hardliner Dragan Covic lost his seat on the three-member Bosnian presidency last autumn to moderate candidate Zeljko Komsic, he warned that crisis would descend upon Bosnia. Covic’s conservative party – the Bosnian analog of Croatia’s ruling party – considers Komsic’s election to be unlawful and illegitimate, Total Croatia News reported in December.

Compiled by Ky Krauthamer

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