Friend or foe? - Stipe Mesic
by Ron Synovitz
Speaking at RFE/RL headquarters in Prague on 6 March, Croatian President Stipe Mesic said the cooperation treaty signed in Banja Luka the previous day by Yugoslav President Vojislav Kostunica and Republika Srpska President Mirko Sarovic shows that the post-Milosevic Yugoslav leadership has not abandoned the former president's dream of creating a Greater Serbia. Mesic said that the cooperation treaty would contribute to the further destabilization of Bosnia.
'Both Croatia and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia should have their relations with Bosnia-Herzegovina as a whole', Mesic said. 'We should not encourage the entities within Bosnia to get the impression that they are states. To be fair, it should be mentioned that Croatia also has an agreement on special relations with the Federation of Bosnia-Herzegovina. But it's just a framework [accord]. Without any amendments and annexes to this framework, the agreement cannot be implemented. That's why I insist that our relations with Bosnia should be like our relations with any other country: relations with the country as a whole, not with particular parts of that country. The idea behind these agreements [for special relations] is to connect Croat areas of Bosnia with Croatia and Serb areas of Bosnia with Serbia in order to encourage the continued division of Bosnia.'
Mesic also criticized radical Herzegovinian Croats in the Croatian Democratic Community (HDZ) who have threatened to create their own mini-state out of the parts of Bosnia-Herzegovina where Croats are in a majority. The Croatian president said similar moves by Bosnian Muslims and Bosnian Serbs would mean the end of the Bosnian state.
'It is our duty to support the role of those individuals among the Croats in Bosnia who are not for division of the country; to support their political stance and to strengthen them. The HDZ has no legal right to pretend to be the only and exclusive representative of political interests of Bosnian Croats, especially when this policy is disastrous', Mesic said
Ron Synovitz, RFE/RL Balkan Report, Vol. 5, No. 18, 9 March 2001