President Milanović: Until election law in BiH is changed and Croats are given their fundamental rights, Croatia must not ratify anyone’s NATO accession

26. April 2022.

“Until the issue of the election law in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) is solved, until the Americans, the English, the Germans force (Bosniak officials) – whose policies are not created in Brussels but elsewhere – to change the election law right now or in the next six months and give Croats their fundamental rights, the Croatian Parliament must not ratify anyone’s accession to NATO. Without the Croatian Parliament and the ratification of an accession agreement, there are no new NATO members,” said the President of the Republic Zoran Milanović on Tuesday, responding to a reporter’s question about Finland’s and Sweden’s plans to join NATO.

President Milanović said that Finland has every right to seek NATO accession, but that Croatia also has the right to ask for the protection of its own national interests. “I would like the Finns to support us in our problems, which deal with security and are important for Croats and Croatia, because Croatia is a border state of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Do you want to join NATO? No problem. That is a vital issue for Finland, and for us the vital issue is whether in Canton 10 or in Fojnica Croat representatives will be elected by Bosniaks or by Croats,” said President Milanović.

According to the President, “there is a lot of rude ignorance and neglect for the needs of an ally and EU and NATO member,” as well as “pushing Croatia out of all processes” while labelling it as an aggressor, and there are “various civic BiH projects” too. President Milanović also commented on the unequal European integration criteria. “We have a situation in which Bulgaria and Romania cannot join Schengen, while Finland can join NATO overnight. North Macedonia and Albania cannot begin EU accession negotiations and Kosovo has not even been recognised,” said the President, adding that he had raised the issue of the Croats’ position in BiH with French President Macron, German President Steinmeier and other leaders.

Responding to a reporter’s question, President Milanović commented further on the results of parliamentary elections in Slovenia and the purportedly announced reversal of Slovenia’s policy towards Croatia. “Croatia-Slovenia relations have been really good in the past two years. (Former Slovenian PM) Janša also deserves credit for that, but he lost the elections,” the President of the Republic said.

Will the new government complicate open issues, such as arbitration, or block Croatia’s Schengen entry, reporters asked the President, who said he thinks that “it will not complicate things.” Regarding Schengen entry, he said that in the case of a Slovenian blockade, “it will not be good.” “I hope they will not block us, because it is in their interest that we do their job. If they want to prevent Croatia’s Schengen entry, okay. Croatia won’t go down because of that. They will cause damage to themselves,” said President Milanović, clarifying in principle that Croatia could in that case stop controlling the border and let Slovenia control the entry of illegal migrants. “Croatia was ready for Schengen in 2015. We could have entered, but it is a political decision. Slovenia will, if it looks after its interests, ask that Croatia join Schengen – yesterday,” he added.

President Milanović said that he will meet later today with the President of Slovenia Borut Pahor, who is paying a working visit to Croatia. “We will discuss relations between the two countries. These contacts are very important, they are constant and that testifies to some personal affinities, which is not unimportant in politics,” concluded President Milanović.