željko reiner.jpg
Photograph: HINA/ Lana SLIVAR DOMINIĆ/ lsd

Croatian Parliament Speaker Zeljko Reiner said on Monday that the establishment of a third entity in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) was a "tricky question" and that the establishment of closed national communities would become irrelevant once BiH met the EU membership requirements, which he said was not possible without the equality of Bosnian Croats.

"The issue of entities, national units, closure in circles, national or religious ones, will become irrelevant when the demands for joining the European Union are met and when a quality standard is achieved for all inhabitants of Bosnia and Herzegovina," Reiner told students at Mostar University in southern BiH who asked for his position on the establishment of a third, Croat entity in BiH.

He said this was a "tricky question" and that Croatia pushed for a BiH state that was functioning, with equal rules for all nations, including Croats. "Then the entity question will stop being the number one question."

Talking about the role of parliaments in multi-ethnic states, Reiner said BiH would not become an EU member until Croats had the same rights as Bosniaks and Serbs. "Without the acceptance of diversity, no country will become a member of the European Union. For equality to be achieved, Croats, like the two other nations, must be equal not only on paper but must be able to fully exercise their language, culture, education, and have equal prospects in everyday life."

Reiner said Switzerland was a good model for dealing with the differences in BiH, citing decentralisation as a good model for avoiding the dominance of larger nations over others.

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