FM: Croatia will boost cooperation with Bosnia, support Croats' survival

Croatia's Foreign Minister Miro Kovac, who on Saturday visited Vitez, central Bosnia and Herzegovina, said that the incumbent government in Zagreb would work on boosting the overall relations with Bosnia and Herzegovina which he described as Croatia's most important neighbour.

"Croatia wants to build strong friendly relations with Bosnia and Herzegovina," Kovac said pointing out the ethnic, traffic, economic and cultural bonds between the two neighbours, and emphasising that it is in Croatia's interest to see the stabilisation of Bosnia and Croatia and the survival of local Croats.

"We (in Zagreb) have opportunities to restructure the relations between Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina. Now we have opportunities to regulate and restructure those relations," said Kovac who attended ceremonies marking the 20th anniversary of the establishment of a business zone in Vitez. 

He said that it was "unbelievable" that for years the governments of the two neighbours had not held a joint meeting.

"We should have joint meeting of the governments of Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina on a regular basis so as to address our outstanding issues."

The Croatian minister praised Sarajevo for having submitted a request for a status of European Union member candidate.

He reiterated support to Croat communities in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

"In a way we guarantee for Bosnia and Herzegovina," Kovac said recalling Croatia's support to Bosnia and Herzegovina's 1991 independence referendum and to efforts to survive during the war.

He went on to say that Croatia's role is not to act as a proxy for Croats in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and called on local Croats to decide themselves on the functioning of their country.

Kovac also spoke about importance of economic conditions and in that context he praised the Vitez business zone, established in 1996 immediately after the war by local Croat entrepreneurs.

The zone grew into one of major Bosnian business hubs, encouraged the return of both Croat and Bosnian Muslim (Bosniak) refugees to their pre-war homes and helped them to mend their relations seriously harmed by the Bosniak-Croat conflict in the war.

Currently, 56 companies in the zone employ over 5,800 people. The turnover in the zone amounted to over 400 million euros in 2015.

Bosnia and Herzegovina presidency member and Croat leader Dragan Covic praised the establishment of the business zone in the aftermath of the war as a wonder. 

"This can also serve as a clear answer to challenges we are facing today," said Covic in Vitez.

Last update: Sat, 23/04/2016 - 12:02

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