Just a day after the celebration of Republika Srpska Day, January 9, in Banja Luka the political storm is still ongoing and has caused a diplomatic incident on the relations of Bosnia & Herzegovina with Croatia.
Bosniak politicians condemned the celebration as the manifestation which celebrate the “unconstitutional holiday” of one of the two BiH entities. What’s more, some Croat politicians, like BiH Presidency member Željko Komšić, repeated the same accusations about Serb disrespect of BiH Constitution and BiH Constitutional court decisions. But, this is nothing new and nobody was surprised and did not expect a different reaction. The office of the RS President, Željka Cvijanović, tried to explain that RS changed the Law on holidays and RS Day in now celebrated in accordance with all laws, including the Constitution.
More political discussion was triggered about the presence on some ceremonies of Croatian politicians, Dragan Čović and Vjekoslav Bevanda, as the representatives of the Croatian People Assembly. The biggest problem for Bosniak politicians is the presence of the Croatian Ambassador to BiH, Ivan Del Vechio, on the solemn reception in the RS Government building.
Dragan Čović is a political ally of Serb member of the BiH Presidency, Milorad Dodik and his presence was not unusual. He and Dodik already announced the close future cooperation of the parties they lead, Dodik’s Alliance of the Independent Social Democrats (SNSD) and Čović’s Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ), but it is well known that this cooperation lasts for several years.
Bosniaks were not insulted by the presence of Bevanda, who is HDZ vice president, or Republika Srpska vice president, Josip Jerković. As a reaction on Del Vechio’s presence however, the Chairman of the BiH Council of Ministers, Denis Zvizdić, said in the post on Twitter that he would break all ties with Del Vechio. Šefik Džaferović, the Bosniak member of the BiH Presidency, at the press conference in Sarajevo, also condemned the Del Vechio presence on the reception, adding that he will avoid all personal contacts with the Croatian Ambassador.
The presence of the Croat representatives was condemned even in Croatia where politicians mostly said that it was something they should not do. The pressure was high and on Twitter Čović said that “it is time to forget the past and to turn the faces toward the joint future”.
On his part, Del Vechio said to BiH media that he was in Banja Luka to meet Dodik on the margins of the ceremony, as they had agreed earlier. That was not enough to convince his bosses that it is OK and that he does not support RS Day, especially because the Yugoslav People’s Army general, Slavko Lisica, was posthumously awarded with a medal on this occasion. Lisica was sentenced in Croatia for war crimes and that was the main reason of the dissatisfaction of politicians in Croatia regardless of the party. Unofficially, Del Vechio was was called to Zagreb for consultations but the situation is very uncertain – some predict that he will not return to Sarajevo as an ambassador.
All this disputes, as usual, will last for the next few days and then the country will get back to the ordinary activities.
On a possitive note, because of this situation the citizens found out that Zvizdić and Čović have Twitter accounts./IBNA
Photo: Del Vechio on the left with Dodik