President Mesić attends the round-table on reconciliation, return and integration (HINA)
President Stjepan Mesic, Deputy Prime Minister Slobodan Uzelac and representatives of Sisak-Moslavina and Karlovac counties and refugee associations took part in a round-table debate on reconciliation, refugee returns and integration at Petrova Gora on Tuesday . After hearing about participants' attempts to socially and economically revive areas of special government concern, President Mesic said it would be good if some Bosnian Croat refugees attempted to return to the Bosnian Serb entity, from which they had been expelled.
"Forty-eight per cent of Bosniaks and Croats lived on the territory of present-day Republika Srpska before the war and now there are barely eight per cent. Without all three constituent peoples, Bosnia-Herzegovina can hardly start functioning as a democratic, European and law-based country," said President Mesic. Speaking of European integration, he said it was important that this generation wrapped up the European Union accession of all Southeast European countries. "If Croatia alone joins the Union, we will have made a small step," President Mesic said, adding that the utmost should be done to ensure that the other countries in the region draw closer and speed up their progress towards the same goal, because only in a united Europe can "both a tolerant and a decent coexistence" be achieved, said President Mesic.
President Mesic also said that the EU accession of all countries in the region would forever rule out war as a political means. Deputy PM Uzelac said the refugee families they visited earlier today pointed to both the difficulties and the successes of the reintegration process, but added that areas of special state concern were on the whole "an unused potential". He said regional development had not taken hold, yet it could benefit both the region and Croatia.
"Development is possible, provided that young people return, but they must be given jobs, so there is still a lot of work ahead," said Uzelac. The UNHCR representative in Croatia, Wilfried Buchhorn, said the objective of today's visit to refugee families was to gain first-hand insight into the progress of return and reintegration of the displaced in Croatia. He said those families were also a symbol of what the UNHCR was doing and a signal to those who had not come back yet to decide more easily if they wanted to return. He added that the UNHCR would certainly remain in Croatia for another two years and help in wrapping up the reintegration process in a dignified manner.