Interview for Jutarnji list: Stalling of the process of adoption of the new Electoral Law weakens the position of BiH Croats
MEP Željana Zovko – First Croatian MEP to head an EU election observation mission
Author: Ivanka Toma
What was the concrete reason for the meeting of HDZ BiH and HDZ Croatia held on Sunday in Zagreb?
- We discussed the open issued faced by Croats in BiH, then the issues of the Pelješac Bridge, BiH Electoral Law, security, borders etc. The Chairman of the BiH Presidency Mr. Dragan Čović reported to the Croatian HDZ about the status of negotiations on the Electoral Law, pointing out to the lack of good will on the other side to satisfactorily create the law until the next elections. This might endanger the entire country and launch a crisis. Mostar has had no elections for years already. The European Council adopted the conclusion on obligatory alignment of the Electoral Laws last week. However, in last 20 years, the other parties came to realize that stalling of the process of adoption of the new Electoral Law was weakening the position of BiH Croats. Croats are leaving BiH and the two entities are reaching the state of civil entities, where the Federation would have the same status as Republika Srpska, resp., the majority nation would be electing all the representatives. The international community does not see a problem with BiH composed of the two civil entities, but in reality, that leads to further disintegration of the country.
Why is the exchange of views of the members of the EP Committee on Foreign Affairs with Mr. Čović important?
- President Čović is very active in the campaign, the main goal of which is to show the necessity of BiH’s joining the EU, because any stalling of the accession process leads to disintegration of the country. The exchange of views with the AFET members is actually a platform for presenting what needs to be done to enable BiH to become a stable European country. Attempts have been made, especially in last months, to make the European Parliament aware of the fact that the Western Balkans is entering a deep crisis and that it needs European care and attention very much. The EU must be more visible in that area in order to prevent non-EU countries from spreading their influence. Those countries have already been achieving their own interests in the area, what might be very dangerous not only for BiH, but also for entire Europe, mostly for Croatia.
President of the European People’s Party, Joseph Daul, fiercely criticized the political elite in BiH.
- I was surprised by fervency of his words and assessments. I believe that was an emotional reaction as a response to the current situation in the country. BiH is facing a crisis, but that certainly does not mean that everyone is the same and that the process was shaped as such only because of corruption we all have been fighting. Truly, BiH has a huge problem with corruption, the country’s educational system is not satisfactory and some educational institutions are highly questionable. However, the core of the problem is in unresolved political situation, unresolved constitutional position and constitutional architecture resulting in many frustrations.
You are the first Croatian MEP to head an EU election observation mission, concretely to Nepal. How are you preparing?
- The mission is a challenge! I am honoured that I was proposed by the EPP and appointed by the EU HR for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Federica Mogherini, to lead the EU election observation mission to Nepal. The main task of the mission is to ensure credible and transparent elections and to help the country with our recommendations to improve the electorate process in the future.
You were the BiH Ambassador to Spain. Did the crisis in Catalonia surprised you?
- I can’t say it came as a surprise. There are groups of extreme-left MEPs lobbying in the EP. What shocked me was irresponsibility with which they started the whole thing and the uncertainty they caused for the Kingdom of Spain, which is a highly decentralised country, with the guaranteed rights to language, education and all other things we in the Western Balkans would be happy to have.
The reaction of Madrid shocked everyone, especially violence of the police during the referendum.
- People who are acquainted with the mentality of Spain were not as surprised. The photos are really worrying and no one expected to see such photos coming from Catalonia.