Bosnian Croat Leader Calls for Changes to State Structure and for a Croatian Entity

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Niccolo and Donkey
Bosnian Croat Leader Calls for Changes to State Structure


December 9, 2010

The leader of the largest Croat party in Bosnia has told reporters that the country should be organised into four federal units.

Dragan Covic, the head of the Croatian Democratic Union of Bosnia-Herzegovina, speaking in Banja Luka, suggested that the seats of the four units could be located in Sarajevo, Banja Luka, Mostar and Tuzla.

Bosnia is currently divided into two highly independent entities, the predominantly Serb Republika Srpska and the Bosniak-Croat federation, a setup that emerged from the 1995 Dayton peace agreement which ended the 1992-95 war.

The two entities are linked by weak central institutions, while each retains its own government, parliament and presidency.

Covic told journalists that his idea was an agreed stance among Croat political parties in Bosnia, but that only the Serb people and their politicians could decide on changing the borders of Republika Srpska.

"How we can manage to do this successfully depends not only on the Croatian Democratic Union or [top Bosnian Serb party] the Alliance of Independent Social Democrats, rather it depends on all of us together. However, the absolute, constitutional equality of all three peoples is necessary, because only that kind of Bosnia can survive," he said.

According to Covic, agreement also needs to be found with the Bosniak (Muslim) political parties, because without their support, Bosnia's territory cannot be reorganised.

During and after the war in the country, Bosnian Croat hardliners tried to establish a separate Croat entity, but any such attempts were rebuffed by Bosniaks and squashed by the international community.

The last time Croat radical politicians tried to establish a separate entity was in 2001, when they established an inter-cantonal cooperation council. The attempt failed and Croats suffered strong international sanctions.

In subsequent years, especially since 2006, Bosnian Croats – who are the smallest of the three constitutive peoples in Bosnia – were often outvoted by Bosniaks and Serbs.

As a result, many Bosnian Croats argue that establishment of their separate entity is simply the only way for their survival, rather than an expression of nationalist sentiment.