It is unfair to set the conditions for Finland’s NATO membership

Image: @AndrejPlenkovic/Twitter

ZAGREB, June 21, 2022 – It is unfair and incorrect to set conditions for Sweden and Finland to join NATO, Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said on Tuesday after meeting with his counterpart Finnish Sanna Marin, expressing the government’s support for Finland’s and Sweden’s application for NATO membership.

“The position of the Croatian government and the parliamentary majority has always been clear and firm – we support Finland’s ambition and believe that, if this is what our European partner wants, his choice must be respected and supported”, Plenković said at a press conference. organized with the visiting Prime Minister of Finland.

“We believe that right now NATO membership is the security umbrella that Finland and Sweden want,” he added.

The Prime Minister underlined that his government would advocate for the protection of the rights of Croats in Bosnia and Herzegovina and for Bosnia and Herzegovina’s European path, but without unfairly conditioning Sweden’s and Finland’s NATO membership on these efforts.

Our task is to explain the status of Croats in Bosnia and Herzegovina to the Prime Ministers of Finland and Sweden and win their support to correct injustices, not to question their choice, Plenković added.

Without naming President Zoran Milanović, the Prime Minister thus criticized his insistence on making the accession of Finland and Sweden to NATO conditional on the reform of the electoral law of Bosnia-Herzegovina. Finland and Sweden applied for NATO membership in response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which began on February 24.

Earlier on Tuesday, Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin met with President Milanović, who told her that in principle he was not against Finland’s entry into NATO, but at the same time stressed the status difficult situation of Croats in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the security problems that Croatia is facing due to the lack of stability in BiH.

Marin said that she had a good meeting with Milanović, that his position was very clear and that he had no problem with Finland and Sweden joining NATO, adding that she appreciated Croatia’s support for Finland’s NATO membership.

There is no closer relationship than belonging to the same defense alliance and the will to defend oneself unconditionally, Marin said.

Finland and Sweden’s NATO membership bid has been met with opposition from Turkey, which says Helsinki and Stockholm support Kurdish militants and have imposed an arms embargo on Turkey .

Marin expressed his optimism during the press conference in Zagreb.

She said she believed NATO would send a strong message of unity at a summit in Madrid next week, stressing that Finland and Sweden would strengthen NATO.

The Finnish Prime Minister also said that Helsinki supports Croatia’s accession to the Schengen area and the euro zone.

Finland’s PM won’t comment on BiH candidate status

Croatia is not alone in warning against the unjust neglect of the accession of Western Balkan countries to the EU, Slovenia and Austria in particular.

Slovenian Foreign Minister Tanja Fajon said Slovenia would ask at the next EU summit for Bosnia and Herzegovina to be given candidate status, after the Commission last week proposed that Ukraine and Moldova obtain EU candidate status.

Plenković said that regardless of the latest moves by Austria and Slovenia, if there was one country that supported Bosnia and Herzegovina’s candidate status and European path, it was Croatia.

He recalled that Bosnia and Herzegovina applied for EU membership when HDZ BiH leader Dragan Čović was President of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Plenković stressed the importance of amending the country’s electoral law for democracy and for the equality of its constituent peoples.

Asked about Finland’s attitude towards granting Bosnia and Herzegovina candidate status, Marin said Finland had not yet adopted a position but had long supported enlargement. of the EU.

It is important to seriously consider all issues important to member states, she said.

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