- Published: 05.12.2017.
PM Plenkovic in Mostar: Croatia is a partner and friend of Bosnia and Herzegovina
Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic said on Tuesday it was not possible for former Bosniak prisoners of war to sue Croatia and be compensated for being held in Bosnian Croat-run detention centres, expressing regret for all victims of the 1992-1995 war in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
"This verdict is not about the responsibilities of states but of individuals. I don't see how someone could find a legal basis for such lawsuits in this verdict," Plenkovic said during his visit to Mostar, southern Bosnia and Herzegovina, referring to a guilty verdict handed down by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in The Hague last week against six Bosnian Croat wartime political and military leaders. He was asked by the press to comment on announcements in the media that former Bosniak POWs would sue Croatia for its alleged involvement in the war.
On the second day of his visit, Plenkovic met with leaders of the Croatian National Assembly, the umbrella organisation of Bosnian Croat political parties.
Addressing a joint press conference, the Chairman of the Bosnia and Herzegovina Presidency, Dragan Covic, called on all former prisoners of war to seek satisfaction by suing Bosnia and Herzegovina.
"This concerns all Bosniak POWs who suffered, and all Croat POWs too who suffered in 331 Bosniak camps, and all Serb POWs. Bosnia and Herzegovina needs to find a way how to help these people, how to compensate for their sacrifice and suffering," Covic said.
Plenkovic expressed his sympathy with the victims named in the latest ICTY verdict and with all war victims in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
"Here I want to clearly express sympathy with all the victims and regret for the crimes mentioned in that verdict, and for all war crimes committed in Bosnia and Herzegovina, including those against Croats," Plenkovic said.
He rejected claims that he had made a reversal since the government session last week when he said that Croatian wartime president Franjo Tudjman's policies were not criminal. He said that Croatia was a UN member and one of the founders of the Hague tribunal, and that it had tried three times to present its views on the disputed allegations as an amicus curiae.
"There are no doubts about whether we accept or do not accept the verdict. There has been no change in our position, which is very clear. We respect the verdict. Are we satisfied with some of its parts? Quite clearly, we are not," the Croatian prime minister said.
Plenkovic said that Croatia would continue to strongly support Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Croats there. "Croatia wants the Croats in Bosnia and Herzegovina to be fully equal with the other two constituent nations. We will do all we can to ensure this through dialogue," he said, adding that it was particularly important for Bosnia and Herzegovina to change its electoral law so that Croats could choose their own representatives in government.
"In the year ahead, which is an election year in Bosnia and Herzegovina, we want the Croat political parties to show unity and to prepare themselves for election challenges and for representative institutions. Croatia wants the Croats in Bosnia and Herzegovina to be on an equal footing with the other two constituent nations," Plenkovic said.
Covic called for defusing tensions in Bosnia and Herzegovina and thanked Plenkovic for the support. "I am confident that these talks are a great encouragement to all of us in Bosnia and Herzegovina not to lose faith, to find a way how to survive in Bosnia and Herzegovina, how to build Bosnia and Herzegovina as our homeland while at the same time strengthening the position of Croats as an equal and sovereign nation in the entire territory of Bosnia and Herzegovina," he said.
"We need a true peace here. We need to prevent an escalation, a negative atmosphere and a return to the past, which was such that it should indeed never happen again anywhere," Covic said.