Croatian Minister of Foreign Affairs Gordan Grlić Radman said on Sunday that Croatia is not running away from outstanding issues in its relations with Bosnia and Herzegovina, while it opposes the redrawing of the Balkan borders.
“Croatia wants to address them [the issues] just as it sincerely wants to help preserve that country’s stability and its Euro-Atlantic path,” said Grlić Radman in an interview for the Sarajevo media. He added that his visit to Bosnia and Herzegovina last week and talks with the country’s highest officials took place positively and in an encouraging atmosphere.
Grlić Radman said he had clarified in direct communication during his visit to Sarajevo the purpose and content of the non-paper on Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Western Balkans which Croatia had sent to the EU Foreign Affairs Council on behalf of a group of six EU member states, as a template for the debate announced for May. He stressed that with the document, Croatia had demonstrated its respect and appreciation toward Bosnia and Herzegovina, and had opened up space for a deeper discussion on critical topics to increase the European Union’s attention to Bosnia and Herzegovina and its path toward the EU candidate status.
In that context, he explained that the need to reform Bosnia and Herzegovina’s electoral law in order to eliminate all existing inequalities and ameliorate the political climate and cooperation within the country was also brought up.
Commenting on the alleged document advocating the dissolution of Bosnia and Herzegovina and changes to other borders in the Western Balkans, published by a Slovenian web portal without identifying the author or the intended audience, Grlić Radman said he did not wish to speculate regarding the alleged non-paper. Still, he underscored that border redrawing was out of the question for Croatia.
“There is no doubt that Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia are economically, culturally, and geographically oriented towards each other. They are and should be friends and thus have to resolve outstanding issues through dialogue. So, more talks, fewer misunderstandings,” said the Croatian minister.
He stressed that dialogue on all outstanding issues was important but should not be carried out through the issuance of statements to the media, but through joint working groups and interdepartmental formats whose members are relevant experts.
“That is, I think, especially important in order for those outstanding issues to not be exploited for daily political purposes, which could lead to further escalation of mutual misunderstandings,” Grlić Radman said. /ibna