By Eldin Hadzovic
The Croatian Democratic Union, HDZ, and its sister party the HDZ 1990, along with several minor Croat political organisations, launched the initiative in response to the formation of the government of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the country’s mainly Bosniak-Croat entity.
The coalition led by the mainly Bosniak Social Democratic Party, SDP, including two minor Croat parties, formed the government in March, leaving the HDZ and HDZ 1990 out of the new cabinet.
The HDZ and HDZ 1990 negotiated with the SDP bloc over joining the new government for more than five months but were unable to agree on the distribution of government positions.
The president of HDZ 1990, Bozo Ljubic, said on Monday that the decision to form the Croatian National Assembly comes after legitimate Croat representatives were prevented from participating in the Federation government.
The HDZ parties say their new all-Croat structure will lead to the establishment of an inter-municipal governing body in areas in the Federation which have a Croat majority.
“Our political response will be the formation of the Croat National Assembly on April 19, and one of its first decisions will be the convening of inter-municipal and inter-cantonal council,” Miso Relota, HDZ vice-president, told Balkan Insight.
The inter-cantonal council, Relota explained, will allow predominantly Croat areas to coordinate their activities, to define their interests, and to engage in development projects that appear common to the higher institutions of government.
The leaders of the Croatian National Assembly say their new institutions do not violate the Federation’s constitution, unlike a move by Ante Jelavic in 2001 to form a Croatian National Assembly that hoped to establish a third, Croat entity in Bosnia.
Jelavic, who was the Croat member of Bosnia’s tripartite presidency at the time, was removed from his post by the country’s High Representative for anti-constitutional activities.
Some Bosniak politicians have criticised the recent HDZ move, comparing it to Jelavic’s attempts to form a “Croatian self-government” in 2001.
“This is not even similar,” the HDZ’s Relota said. “Although many people in Bosnia would like that, the legitimate representatives of the Croats will not fall into the trap of non-institutional actions.”
“The decision to organise the council will be adopted on Monday, which should be the supreme political, coordinating and executive body of the HNS, which will assist in coordinating all inter-cantonal and intermunicipal activities, in accordance with the Federation and State Constitution and laws,” HDZ president Dragan Covic said before the assembly was launched.