Croatian president says Finland, Sweden cannot join NATO before election law change in BiH

Croatia’s parliament “must not ratify anyone’s accession to NATO” until this law has changed, Milanović told the press. Finland and Sweden’s NATO accession can be discussed, but it is “a very dangerous adventure,” the president also said, according to the N1 television. [EPA-EFE/MARTIAL TREZZINI]

Finland and Sweden cannot join the NATO alliance as long as Bosnia and Herzegovina does not change its electoral law, President Zoran Milanović said on Tuesday. The statement triggered strong reactions from Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković, while the foreign ministry in Zagreb confirmed its support for Finland’s NATO aspirations.

Croatia’s parliament “must not ratify anyone’s accession to NATO” until this law has changed, Milanović told the press. Finland and Sweden’s NATO accession can be discussed, but it is “a very dangerous adventure,” the president also said, according to the N1 television.

It’s “dangerous charlatanry”, he added.

“As far as I’m concerned, let them join NATO… but until the issue of the election law in BiH is solved, until the Americans, the English, the Germans, if they can and want to, force (Bosniak officials) to change the election law in the next six months and give Croats their fundamental rights, the Sabor must not ratify anyone’s accession to NATO,” said Milanović.

“For me, that’s a vital national interest of the Croatian state, nation and people, that BiH be a functioning state,” he added.

Prime Minister Andrej Plenković was quick to react and said Milanović could block Sweden and Finland’s accession at the NATO meeting but if he is a “tough guy”, he should do it in front of US President Joe Biden.

“Let him immediately block, as someone who sits at NATO summits, why he is transferring it to Parliament”, Plenković said.

Meanwhile, Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto has contacted the foreign and European affairs ministry, anxiously asking what the Croatian President’s statement means, EURACTIV’s media partner Jutarnji list reported.

Late last night, the Finnish foreign ministry tweeted that Haavisto discussed with his Croatian counterpart Gordan Grlić-Radman and the latter confirmed that Zagreb supports NATO’s open-door policy, and if Finland decides to apply for the NATO membership, the Croatian government and parliament will be in favour of Finland joining.

Meanwhile, Tuomas Forsberg, the Director of Helsinki Collegium of Advanced Studies in political science said in the YLE current affairs programme on Tuesday that attempts – such as the one coming from Croatian President – to milk the political situation, meaning the NATO applications of Finland and Sweden, came as no surprise and were even expected.

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