Finland, Sweden’s NATO membership process sparks dispute in Croatia

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  • May 16, 2022
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The NATO membership process of Finland and Sweden has caused a dispute in Croatia between President Zoran Milanovic and the government.

Milanovic said Croatia's only condition for not vetoing Finland and Sweden's NATO membership is the resolution of the election reform that has not been concluded in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Croatian Parliament Speaker Gordan Jandrokovic said vetoing would harm the country's international position and reputation.

The Croats in Bosnia and Herzegovina fear that Bosniaks, who are the majority in the federation they share, will choose their representatives in the presidency and the parliament’s House of People.

So, they have proposed changes that would enable the formation of new ethnic-based electoral districts where people would vote only for their own community’s representatives at all levels of governance, including the presidency.

But talks on reforming the election law, held last year under the auspices of the EU and US, failed as Bosniaks rejected the proposals in fear they could be a maneuver to forge a separatist Croat entity reminiscent of the 90s Bosnian War.

Meanwhile, Croatia's Foreign Minister Gordan Grlic Radman expressed his country's support for NATO membership of Finland and Sweden.

"These two countries are partner countries that share the same values with us," said Radman.

Foreign policy analyst Denis Avdagic, on Croatian Radio and Television, said the government may call for the dismissal of Milanovic.

"Prime Minister (Andrej) Plenkovic and the majority power may call for the dismissal of Milanovic.

"The reason is Milanovic's veto statement. I hope the government and the president can gather around a common consensus, taking into account the national interests of the country," Avdagic said.

For decades, Sweden and Finland took a neutral foreign policy posture in the region, but the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war that started on Feb. 24 triggered a shift in their approach, with both the public and most politicians favoring joining the NATO alliance.

However, Sweden and Finland, which have stated their intention to seek NATO membership, have not responded positively to requests from Turkiye – a NATO member for over 70 years – for the extradition of a total of 33 terrorists.

Source: Anadolu Agency