President Milanović after NATO Summit: We managed to include the Dayton Agreement and the need for electoral reform in Bosnia and Herzegovina in the final document

14. June 2021.

The President of the Republic of Croatia Zoran Milanović participated in the NATO Summit, at which the Heads of State and Government of NATO Member States discussed topics related to the Alliance’s reforms until 2030, including adapting to challenges such as destabilizing activities on the part of Russia, the rise of China, terrorist threats, cyber-attacks and climate change.

After the NATO Summit, President Milanović gave press statements, saying that he was satisfied with the meeting, but also worried because of what took place with the closing statement and the paragraph on Bosnia and Herzegovina where – until the intervention by Croatia – the General Framework Agreement for Peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina, better known as the Dayton Agreement, was not mentioned. “We will have to check what is behind that, and how come that some members undermine and overtly obstruct efforts to make mention of the Dayton Accords in the paragraph on Bosnia and Herzegovina, an integral part of the final document, as if that were something toxic,” said President Milanović, adding that he managed to ensure the insertion of this reference at the last moment. “That is a warning sign. Had I failed to do that, we would have had a statement which would look like as if it had been written by an advocate of the so-called civic Bosnia and Herzegovina, and that cause is ostensibly noble but is actually a hoax,” he said.

Asked by reporters whether the Republic of Croatia can be satisfied with the changes in the document, President Milanović reiterated: “We managed to incorporate the need for electoral reform in Bosnia and Herzegovina into the communiqué. It wasn’t there. To exclude this rather manipulative reference to all the citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina, which in any other context would sound very noble and well-intentioned, but not in this context, and yes, to finally force them to insert in the text the General Framework Agreement for Peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina. And none of that was there until yesterday afternoon,” he said.

“Why is it important that the Dayton Agreement is at least mentioned in the statement? Because otherwise there are no Croats in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Now we come to the question of whether that is important. It is to me,” said President Milanović.

Reporters asked the President if there was a logical reason why the foundation of the state of Bosnia and Herzegovina was not mentioned, to which President Milanović replied: “That is a job for Croatian diplomacy in the capitals of our allies, where it was insisted until the last moment that mentioning Dayton was unacceptable to them.”

Moreover, reporters asked whether there was coordination and communication in Croatian foreign policy. “There is coordination. In my every move and of my associates. The Ministry is kept informed. The opposite is not true, but there was no more action by the Ministry and there couldn’t be because I, as the head of the delegation, took the task upon myself and my associates from the Office of the President, with the cooperation of the head of mission Ambassador Nobilo and other Croatian diplomats. I use the occasion to thank them because they did everything they could until I had to get directly involved. And it’s all documented as in the most accurate protocol,” replied President Milanović.

“Our diplomacy and a civil service will have to find out why there are so many obstructions to the mention of Dayton. This makes me conclude that there are some who have creative plans for Bosnia and Herzegovina. Croatia, as well as the Bosnian Serbs, who were not our allies in the war but adversaries, will have something to say on this topic. On the other hand, the Bosniaks were our allies for the most part of the war. What interests me in Bosnia and Herzegovina as a whole and a country with its territorial integrity, which I never bring into question, is the destiny and the fundamental voting rights and citizens’ rights of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s Croats, of whom the lion’s share are citizens of Croatia. This is a fact that was politically and legally known to both NATO and the EU at the time of our accession to these associations. It’s not a hoax. It’s simply a burden or pearls with which we entered these organizations, it depends how one looks at it. That is a political, legal, historical fact – 500,000 citizens of one NATO member, the Republic of Croatia, live in Bosnia and Herzegovina. As far as we are concerned, they should stay there, but they are Croats and there is dialogue here and compromise,” said the Croatian President.

Seven documents were adopted at the NATO Summit: a joint statement, NATO 2030 reform  agenda, action plan on the impact of climate change on security, documents on cyber defense, prevention of sexual violence and strengthening resilience, and a report on the burden-sharing of defense spending.

PHOTO: Office of the President of the Republic of Croatia / Marko Beljan, NATO