Rise of Croat Nationalism Calls for Another War

Category: World Affairs Topics: Bosnia And Herzegovina Views: 1193

KISELJAK, Bosnia-Hercegovina, March 17 (AFP) - Boris, a 28-year-old Bosnian Croat from the central town of Kiseljak, sees the rise of Croat nationalism as a call for a new war.

Asked whether he supported the idea of Bosnian Croat nationalist parties to establish Croat self-rule in Bosnia, Boris replied: "I am not going to fight again.

"This is an idea that is impossible to implement," Boris, who fought in the Bosnian Croat army during the 1992-95 war, said adding: "I am still young and I can flee fast."

Dubravko Lovrenovic, a Bosnian Croat historian who lives in the central town of Zenica, also thinks that the idea of Croat autonomy is impossible to implement.

"However," he said, "we have seen many impossible ideas becoming possible in the past 10 years here".

On March 3, Croat nationalist parties led by the Croat Democratic Union (HDZ) voted in favour of establishing a Croat autonomous entity in Bosnia with its own institutions.

The move was condemned by all, including the Croatian government and the international community.

The international community's top mediator Wolfgang Petritsch sacked Croat member of Bosnia's joint presidency Ante Jelavic who also headed the HDZ, as well as three of his associates.

But the HDZ did not recognize such decisions and continued to work on the temporary Croat autonomy in Bosnia that is due to begin Saturday.

For Lovrenovic the idea of Croat autonomy is just a way for the HDZ to remain in control of power.

Following last November's elections, moderates took over all executive structures on the state level and on the Muslim-Croat federation level, leaving both HDZ and the Muslim nationalist Party of Democratic Action (SDA) out of those structures.

Lovrenovic himself was worried that the HDZ's move could cause instability in the region, but was also convinced that if "Petritsch used all powers at his disposal" the security situation would not worsen.

"The idea of Croat autonomy is not nationalism. It's a will of the majority of the Croat population," Marko Tokic, one of the sacked HDZ officials, told AFP over the phone.

The Dayton peace Accords that ended Bosnia's 1992-95 war left the country divided between two entities -- the Serbs' Republika Srpska and the Muslim-Croat Federation.

Dragan, 30, a taxi driver from Kiseljak, said he was ready to fight for the Croat autonomy.

"The HDZ is right and we are the only one of the three peoples living in Bosnia who do not have its own entity," Dragan said.

"I would join the Croat army to fight for autonomy," he said.

Mirko Duno, a 60-year-old Bosnian Croat pensioner from Kiseljak, supported the idea of Croat autonomy, but was worried that it could provoke unrest.

"We as a people feel rejected by both, Croatia and the West," he said.

The interior minister of the Muslim-Croat federation, Mehmed Zilic, on Thursday ordered all police stations in the federation to take special measures of protection against the possible handing out of weapons kept there.

He said there were indications that Croat policemen in the southwestern part of the country would leave the joint forces in support of the Croat autonomy.

But Bruno Zuljevic, a police chief in Kiseljak, said that he was not aware of such indications among his policemen.

"It is easy to be a Croat nationalist in western Hercegovina (southwestern part of the country with the majority of Croat-held towns), but it's difficult to be one in central Bosnia where the population is mixed," he said.

Zuljevic said that there were about 50 percent Croats and 40 percent Muslims among his forces.

"The Croat self rule would mean a separate police force," Zuljevic said, adding that it could cause instability in all of central Bosnia where the towns with a Croat majority were scattered, unlike western Hercegovina.

  Category: World Affairs
  Topics: Bosnia And Herzegovina
Views: 1193

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