Željko Reiner u posjetu BiH, Mladen Bosić.jpg
Photograph: HINA/ FENA/ Emir Burlović/ ds

Croatian Parliament Speaker Zeljko Reiner said on Tuesday that Croatia has to help so that Croats in Bosnia and Herzegovina become equal in relation to Bosniaks and Serbs, underscoring that currently that is a dead letter and not reality.

"The fact is that we all absolutely have to make a joint effort, above all in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and on the other hand in Croatia, which has a constitutional obligation to care for Croats outside Croatia, so that what is written on paper and that is constituency and equality, become a reality and that every citizen can feel that," Reiner said after meeting in Mostar with the heads of the Croatian National Council (HNS) of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The HNS is an umbrella organisation of the most significant Croatian political parties in the country. He added that even though Bosnia's constitution says that Croats are a constituent people, equal to the other two constituent peoples in the country, in reality that is not so.

He said that the situation had improved in the current government's term but that previously the other two peoples elected who would represent the Croatian people. He underscored that Croats in Bosnia and Herzegovina have to exercise equal rights in reality and not just on the political front and that official Zagreb should influence this too.

Chairman of the main committee of the HNS Bozo Ljubic, who is also an MP in the Croatian parliament, told the media that Croatia's role in accelerating Bosnia and Herzegovina's accession to the European Union was overly important and that it was necessary to help Bosnia and Herzegovina so that the process of its accession took less time than it took for Croatia to join the bloc.

He explained that as a signatory to the Washington and Dayton accords, Croatia has to help so that Croats in Bosnia and Herzegovina become equal in the process of EU accession. According to Ljubic, interventions to date to the Washington and Dayton accords, for which Croatia was a guarantor, have led to decisions that have been detrimental to Bosnian Croats.

President of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina entity, Marinko Cavar said that Croatia's care for Croats in Bosnia and Herzegovina has to be "transparent and at the institutional level" in order to prevent Croats from being outvoted, which was made possible through amendments to the peace accords.

"That situation is absolutely impermissible because it facilitates, through a twisted application of the Election Law and the Constitution, to negate the Croats' right to elect their own representatives, which clearly leads to a problem in the functioning and the relations in Bosnia and Herzegovina," Cavar said.

Reiner will conclude his two-day visit to Bosnia and Herzegovina in Banja Luka where he will meet separately with the Speaker of the Republika Srspka entity parliament Nedeljko Cubrilovic, Bishop of Banja Luka Franjo Komarica and political representatives for Croats in that Serb entity. He will also visit the recently opened reconstructed Ferhat Pasha mosque, where he will meet with Banja Luka Mufti Osman Kozlic.

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