Croatian Parliament delegation visit to RS marked by incident

Croatian Parliament delegation visit to RS marked by incident

Banja Luka, May 17, 2016/Independent Balkan News Agency

By Mladen Dragojlovic

The official visit of Croatian Parliament, Sabor, to RS National Assembly, in Banja Luka, was marked by an incident when Sabor speaker, Zeljko Reiner, refused to address the media after meeting with RS NA vice president, Zeljka Stojicic.

Reiner arrived in Banja Luka a day after his visit to Sarajevo and Mostar. As it was scheduled, he and his delegation had a meeting with RS NA delegation about various issues since a big part of BiH border with Croatia is on the RS part of the state. Journalists were patient and, after one hour, delegations came on the stage to address the media. At the moment Stojicic begun the speech, one member of the Croatian delegation informed Reiner to step down from the stage since there was no Croatian flag. Behind the places for speakers were two flags of the RS, and Reiner agreed with his delegation and refused to talk.

“According to protocol, there must be a visitor’s flag, next to the host’s flag. I cannot accept a situation like this”, Reiner said on his way out of the building.

He went on the meeting with Banja Luka Bishop, Franjo Komarica, leaving Stojcic to try to get out of an awkward situation. Stojicic addressed the media and said that she is not an expert in protocol.

“I am really sorry for this situation. I am sure our protocol did everything by the rules”, Stojicic explained.

Two hours after the incident the RS NA press office issued an announcement saying that in the hall of this institution never stands the flag of the country of the guest who comes for an official visit, and that meeting with the delegation of the Croatian Parliament was no exception.

“It is common practice in RS NA that, during the press conference in the Assembly hall, to not have the flag the country from which guests come for an official visit, emphasized the office.

RS NA press office also said that this institution doesn’t want this circumstance, which caused the reaction of some of the members of the Croatian parliament delegation, impair the very cordial and constructive atmosphere in which meeting of Reiner and Stojicic was held.

Stojicic said that delegations discussed various issues, such as the construction of the bridge on Sava River, the Croatian intention to dispose of radioactive waste at the border with BiH, issues concerning pollution in the refinery Brod affecting residents in Croatia, and about the situation of Croats in Banja Luka and the RS.

Photo: Mladen Dragojlovic – Moment of uncomfortable silence when Reiner realises that there is no Croatian flag on the stage