Addressing the national parliament of Bosnia and Herzegovina during an official visit to Sarajevo on Wednesday (15 April), the Croatian president extended condolences and sympathy to every victim of the 1992-1995 war in Bosnia-Herzegovina (BiH), emphasising that every life lost was a loss for everybody.
He said he would travel to Ahmici and Krizancevo Selo in the Lasva Valley on Thursday to pay his respects to victims "whose only sin was that they belonged to the other side and were different".
Bosnian Croat Defence Council (HVO) forces killed over 100 Bosnian Muslim (Bosniak) villagers in April 1993, and the predominately Bosniak Army of BiH killed local Croats in the village of Krizancevo Selo in December that year.
"Only the law and justice can help purge our peoples of the evil and recriminations about crimes and ensure that the evil will not happen ever again," Josipovic said in parliament. Top Bosnian officials and the country's diplomatic corps were also in attendance alongside Bosnian lawmakers.
Josipovic said that "due to their ignorance, malignancy and insanity" policymakers in the 1990s believed that the solution for Bosnia and Herzegovina was its division. However, such policies sowed the seeds of evil not only in BiH but also in the countries from which those polices originated, he said.
The consequence for BiH was that "the tissue of this specific social and cultural entity based on multi-ethnicity" was torn up, the Croatian president said in his speech.
"I deeply regret that the Republic of Croatia contributed to it with its policy in the 1990s. I am deeply sorry that this policy contributed to the suffering of people and to the divisions which still affect us," the Croatian head of state said.
He added that a new era had come in which the mistakes from the past times should be recognised and a new course should be set bringing lasting peace, stability and prosperity to the region.
Josipovic said a common European future is the best solution, adding that he was confident his country would soon become a European Union member. He underlined Croatia's support for its neighbours' EU membership bid.
"The European Bosnia-Herzegovina is a vital national interest of Croatia," Josipovic said.
He said the three constituent peoples of Bosnia must find a formula for their common livelihoods on their own, and that others could merely help them in those efforts, not decide for them.
Croatia is particularly interested in the success of negotiations on Bosnia's constitutional changes, he said. Zagreb, he explained, is bound by the constitution to provide for Croats living in Bosnia, whose number was cut by half in the last war, he added.
History looms large
The previous day, Josipovic met with journalists who asked him questions about the country's controversial past.
Asked if he would visit Bleiburg, a site in Austria where a large number of retreating Croatian pro-Nazi Ustashe troops and civilians were executed by Tito's Partisans at the end of World War II, Josipovic said he would not go there as long as the place was politicised and visited by "people in black who want to change history".
Josipovic was referring to Croats still nostalgic about the Ustashe past, who turned Bleiburg into a nationalist and anti-Serbian symbol.
During the war, the German and Italian invasion of Yugoslavia in 1941 installed a puppet state on the territory of Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, in which the returned Ustashe were in charge and carried out massacres on Serbs and other non-Croats.
Secret list on memory stick
Josipovic said that he supported the adoption of legislation that would allow the publication of the Homeland War Veterans Register, after a leaked list published anonymously on the Internet last week sparked a huge outcry in Croatia.
The list contains the names of some 501,000 people registered as war veterans from the 1991-1995 'Croatian War of Independence'. But this figure is much higher than previously thought. As registered war veterans are entitled to generous pensions and fringe benefits, public opinion saw it as a successful attempt by some Croats to bribe officials into putting their names on the list.
While an investigation is ongoing into how the list was leaked, Croatian Defence Minister Branko Vukelic said the information was probably stolen from the state using a memory stick.
In the meantime, the press reported that four people had been arrested over the leaked secret list.