President Zoran Milanovic on Friday accused Finland of "ignoring Croatia's interests for years" and reiterated that he would continue fighting for the rights of Croats in Bosnia and Herzegovina because he considers that an exceptionally good security reason for Croatia.
Milanovic was responding to a question from a Nova TV reporter to comment on the statement by Finnish foreign minister Pekka Haavisto, who had allegedly said that Finland was shocked by the president’s statements.
“Welcome to the club, mister foreign minister. We have been shocked for several years already by your ignorance and rudeness,” said Milanovic in response, noting: “If he really said that.”
Milanovic added that two days ago, the state secretary of the Finnish ministry of foreign affairs spoke with the associates in his office and that he “didn’t say that” then.
In his yesterday’s statement to Nova TV, Haavisto didn’t mention being “shocked” but he said that he hoped for Croatian solidarity and assistance in their bid to join NATO.
We find it a bit strange that our NATO membership is being connected to something we cannot influence, he said.
Milanovic’s support for Finland and Sweden’s aspirations is conditional on a reform of the election law in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
“We are shocked that they haven’t given a damn about us for years. We are shocked that they are treating us as if we were a member of the Arab League, with all due respect, and not a NATO and EU member. We are shocked that we are obstructed every time we put this topic on the agenda and try to turn attention to it. I am shocked by the behaviour of the Croatian government and Plenkovic’s part of the HDZ,” the Croatian president said.
Milanovic stressed that he wouldn’t give up fighting for the rights of Croats in the neighbouring country. “I have no choice. I must fight for the basic rights of Croats in BiH peacefully. There is no other option,” he said.
Croatian Parliament Speaker Gordan Jandrokovic said on Friday that it wouldn’t be wise to block Finland and Sweden on their NATO path and that that would mean working to the benefit of Russia, and Milanovic told him “it isn’t a matter of wisdom but a matter of national interest.”
Finland’s state leadership said on Thursday that Finland had to submit a membership application to NATO “without delay,” which is a big turnabout in its policy, prompted by the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
“What joining NATO means to Finland at this moment, is what Bosnia and Herzegovina means to us. The difference is in the fact that we have been saying this for several years,” said Milanovic, dismissing claims that he was catering to Russia.