Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) president Andrej Plenkovic has said that improving the position of Croats in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) and a stable BiH making headway towards the European Union are in Croatia's strategic interest, and called on the international community to stop a referendum that has been announced by the Bosnian Serb entity.
Speaking to the Bosnian Vecernji List daily of Saturday, Plenkovic said that Social Democratic Party president Zoran Milanovic's statement about BiH "is harmful to the relations between the two states, notably the interests of Croats in BiH."
Milanovic said earlier this week that BiH was not really a state, that no one there could be trusted and that if the Serb entity held an independence referendum, Croatia would not leave Croats in BiH to live alone with Bosniaks.
Plenkovic labelled such statements as Milanovic's "dilettante foreign policy."
He said Croatia supports a reform of the BiH constitution based on values contained in the European Parliament's 2014 Resolution, which calls for protecting the rights and equality of the three constituent peoples in BiH. He said the rights of Croats in BiH and BiH's integrity were "the number one strategic foreign policy issue for Croatia."
"BiH must become a functioning state, ensuring the full equality of all three constituent peoples and citizens. That requires a constitutional reform based on the principles of federalism, decentralisation, subsidiarity and legitimate representation, as underlined by European Parliament resolutions," Plenkovic was quoted as saying.
He condemned the announcement of a referendum in Republika Srpska, BiH's Serb entity, saying this was a threat to BiH's sovereignty and integrity as well as to peace and stability in the region "because we can't rule out that the referendum in September will serve as an overture to a referendum on Republika Srpska's secession." He called on the international community to oppose the referendum.
Plenkovic said the September referendum on the official observation of Republika Srpska Day was taking place as the EU planned to send BiH a membership candidate questionnaire and that it would undermine BiH's aspirations.
He said Croatia would continue to closely watch the referendum developments and do its utmost to "protect the rights of the Croat people."
He also condemned politically motivated indictments against Croatian war veterans coming from Sarajevo, which allege that Croatia committed military aggression on BiH, saying such arguments falsified history and announcing countermeasures.
"The systematic raising of indictments against Croatian veterans which, in describing the crime, suggest the existence of a joint criminal enterprise and Croatia's aggression against BiH, is completely unacceptable," Plenkovic said, adding that the political qualifications in the indictments constituted the intimidation of Croatian veterans.
Plenkovic is visiting Mostar, southern BiH today to attend the presentation of the HDZ's candidates for the 11th constituency in Croatia's upcoming parliamentary election. Candidates in that constituency are elected by Croats living abroad.