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Croatia Ex-President Warns of Plan to Break Up Bosnia

Former Croatian President Stjepan Mesic warned that Bosnian Serb and Bosnian Croat leaders are cooperating over a shared aim of breaking up Bosnia and Herzegovina, which could lead to war

Former Croatian President Stjepan Mesic claimed on Monday that the leaders of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s Serbs and Croats want to break up the country – a goal that could eventually lead to war.

Mesic alleged that Milorad Dodik, the president of Bosnia’s Serb-dominated entity Republika Srpska, and the Croat representative in the Bosnian tripartite presidency, Dragan Covic, secretly support each other over their mutual aim of “breaking up Bosnia and Herzegovina”.

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“It’s more the goal of Milorad Dodik. Covic sometimes gives decent political statements, but then he has a meeting with Dodik like this and I go back to the thought that he [Covic] is only interested in power,” Mesic told N1 TV.

At a meeting between the Dodik and Covic in Banja Luka on Friday, they announced they were working together to draft a law on the state-level Constitutional Court, which some Bosnian Serbs and Croats have accused of being pro-Bosniak.

Covic repeated that he wanted his centre-right Croatian Democratic Union, HDZ party to fight for “the absolute equality of the Croatian people in relation to other peoples in Bosnia and Herzegovina” – a reference to the desire to create a third, Croat entity in Bosnia.

In his interview for N1, Mesic said that those that who advocate the creation of a Croat entity – an idea supported by some members of the HDZ in Croatia itself – are not taking into account all the Croats who live in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

“Those who offer the third entity don’t say what will happen with Posavina [a northern Bosnian region where the Croat population has been dwindling],” he said.

“They are all striving for the Federation [entity which contains most of the country’s Croats] to crumble. Establishing a new frontier means war,” he warned.

He argued that there could be no further federalisation of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

“This would be in line with those who carried out ethnic cleansing and genocide. I have always argued that we should reconstruct Bosnia and Herzegovina, but I’m not for federalisation. All those who wish Bosnia and Herzegovina well aren’t for that,” he said.

Mesic said that there were probably Bosniaks who sympathise with the idea of the third; those would then advocate a “small [Bosniak-led] Bosnia” as a resolution to internal disputes between the three ethnic groups.

“This would be a concession to those who caused the war in Bosnia. We must not give up on the unified Bosnia and Herzegovina. It would be very difficult for this ‘small Bosnia’ to survive because it would be surrounded by enemies,” he insisted.

Besides being the Croatian President between 2000 and 2010, Mesic has a long and rich political career.

Back in the former Yugoslavia, as a communist politician, he supported the “Croatian Spring”, a liberal-nationalist reform movement with the then ruling League of Communists of Croatia. For this, he was sentenced to a short prison sentence.

He joined the HDZ – led by later the first Croatian President Franjo Tudjman – in the first democratic multi-party elections in May 1990 and became prime minister, but left only three months later to become President of Yugoslavia.

Mesic became the President of the Presidency in June 1991 at the last months of the collapsing Yugoslav state. After leaving the Presidency in December 1991, he became chair of the Croatian Parliament in September 1992, a post he held until May 1994.

The same year, he left the HDZ due to disagreements with Tudjman over his policies towards Bosnia and Herzegovina.

He got involved in politics again at the general elections in September, but did not succeed in getting in to parliament.

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