“We’re not asking Finland or Sweden to change their name to Ikea,” the Croatian president said
NATO membership is now open to Finland and Sweden “very dangerous charlatanry”According to Zoran Milanovic, Croatia’s President Zoran Milosevic on Tuesday, this amounts to Russia provoking. Milanovic stated that Zagreb won’t ratify their joining until US and EU pressure neighboring Bosnia-Herzegovina, in order to guarantee the basic voting rights of ethnic Croats.
“As far as I’m concerned, they can get into NATO, they can poke the rabid bear in the eye with a pen,”Milanovic spoke to reporters in Zagreb Tuesday.
“However, until the electoral law issue in Bosnia-Herzegovina is resolved, until the Americans, the English, the Germans – if they can and want to – compel Sarajevo and Bakir Izetbegovic to update the electoral law in the next six months and grant Croats their elementary rights, the Sabor must not ratify anyone’s admission to NATO,”He also mentioned the Croatian Parliament.
NATO cannot admit new members without the approval of current ones, Milanovic pointed out, adding that he sees Croatia’s role at this moment as “a historic silver bullet.”
“Let the US president or secretary of state hear this now. Let’s see what they can do for Croatia. I’ve had enough of them ignoring and neglecting a NATO and EU member, and sidelining Croatia,”Milanovic stated that the US, along with its Western European allies, would want to include the Scandinavian nations in NATO. “they will have to listen to Croatia.”
Croatia’s biggest grievance is the current electoral system in the neighboring Bosnia-Herzegovina, which has an ethnic Croat community recognized as equal under the 1995 constitution that ended the civil war. Zagreb demands that the electoral law be updated so Croats can elect their representatives in Bosnia. This is contrary to current practice, which has them being elected by the larger group of Bosnian Muslims known as Bosniaks.
In addition to Bosnia, Milanovic listed some of Zagreb’s other grievances: refusal by the EU to admit Bulgaria and Romania into the Schengen border crossing agreement, lack of recognition for the breakaway Serbian province of Kosovo, and no progress in EU talks with Albania and North Macedonia – which even changed its name recently to overcome objections from Greece, to no avail.
“We’re not asking Finland or Sweden to change their name to Ikea, only to tell the Americans that these things need to be resolved,”Milanovic.
Both historically neutral Sweden, Finland and Estonia have made recent moves to join NATO.
Croatia was a NATO member since 2009, and it joined the EU when Milanovic became prime minister. Since October 2020, the Social Democrat politician is president. The nationalist HDZ party, which holds the majority of the parliament, makes it unclear whether his threat to veto NATO’s expansion in practice.