Croatian Parliament Speaker Zeljko Reiner confirmed in Sarajevo on Monday that Croatia would continue fully supporting Bosnia and Herzegovina and helping it in its efforts to join the European Union as soon as possible.
"Croatia sincerely supports an integral, stable and functioning Bosnia and Herzegovina," Reiner told reporters after talks between a large Croatian parliamentary delegation he was heading and leaders of the Bosnian parliament's lower and upper houses.
Bosnia and Herzegovina is the first country Reiner is visiting in his capacity as Parliament Speaker. Recalling that fact, Reiner said that that was proof of how important Bosnia and Herzegovina was to Croatia, as a partner and neighbour.
He said that the talks with Bosnian parliamentary officials focused on a number of topics, describing the overall cooperation between the two countries as very good.
"There are, of course, outstanding issues but we agreed that with good will, the two sides can arrive at mutually satisfactory solutions," he said.
Commenting on the economic cooperation between the two countries, Reiner said that in 2015 it stagnated slightly, adding that there was no real reason for that.
The Croatian parliament speaker called for stepping up bilateral economic cooperation and mutual investments, noting that more than 200 Croatian companies had representations in Bosnia and Herzegovina and that at least 85 companies from Bosnia and Herzegovina had offices in Croatia.
Reiner said that the two countries should also step up cooperation in major infrastructure and energy projects.
He said that Croatia was very much interested in Bosnia and Herzegovina's stability and the equality of its constituent peoples because it was a guarantee of the rights of the Croat people living in that country.
Strengthening Bosnia and Herzegovina as a functioning and stable country is in line with the fulfillment of European standards, he said.
"Croatia has absolutely supported and will continue supporting Bosnia and Herzegovina's European path, especially now that it has been affirmed with the submission of the application for candidate status," Reiner said, offering Bosnia and Herzegovina assistance based on the experience Croatia gained during its EU membership talks.
The Speaker of Bosnia and Herzegovina's House of Representatives, Mladen Bosic, said the Bosnian authorities, too, wanted closer relations between the two countries and the settlement of outstanding issues in the spirit of good neighbourly relations.
He also called for a closer economic cooperation, more investments and cooperation in infrastructure projects.
Croatia's assistance can be of crucial importance for Bosnia and Herzegovina's obtaining the status of an EU candidate, Bosic said.
"I believe that in six months or a year there will be much more understanding for cooperation on a number of issues. It is in the interest of all that all Western Balkan countries join the EU," said Bosic.
The Croatian parliamentary delegation was expected to continue its visit by meeting the most senior Bosnian officials in Sarajevo as well as representatives of local authorities in Mostar and Banja Luka.