NATO member promises to block Sweden’s and Finland’s candidacy

NATO member promises to block Sweden's and Finland's candidacy

Zagreb plans to put its foot down, said the Croatian president

Finland and Sweden join NATO “very dangerous charlatanry” and that is equivalent to provoking Russia, Croatian President Zoran Milanovic said on Tuesday. Zagreb will refuse to ratify its membership until the United States and the European Union press neighboring Bosnia and Herzegovina to guarantee ethnic Croats their basic voting rights, Milanovic added.

“For me, they can get into NATO, they can poke the rabid bear in the eye with a pencil.” Milanovic told reporters in Zagreb on Tuesday.

“Until the electoral law issue in Bosnia and Herzegovina is resolved, until the Americans, the British, the Germans – if they can and will – force Sarajevo and Bakir Izetbegovic to update the electoral law over the next six months and grant Croats their basic rights, Sabor must not ratify anyone’s accession to NATO. “ he added, referring to the Croatian Parliament.

NATO can not accept new members without the approval of the current ones, Milanovic pointed out, adding that he sees Croatia’s role at the moment as “a historic silver bullet.”

“Let the President of the United States 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 putting Croatia aside.” Milanovic said, adding that if the United States and its Western European allies want the two Scandinavian countries in NATO, “they will have to listen to Croatia.”

Croatia’s biggest complaint is the current electoral system in neighboring Bosnia and Herzegovina, which has an ethnic Croatian population recognized as equal under the 1995 constitution that ended the civil war. Zagreb insists on updates to the electoral law so that Croats in Bosnia could elect their own representatives, contrary to current practice of having them elected by the much larger group of Bosnian Muslims, also known as Bosniaks.

In addition to Bosnia, Milanovic listed some of Zagreb’s other complaints: the EU refused to include Bulgaria and Romania in the Schengen agreement on border crossings, lack of recognition of the breakaway Serbian province of Kosovo and no progress in EU talks with Albania and the Nordic countries. Macedonia – which even changed its name recently to overcome objections from Greece, to no avail.

“We are not asking Finland or Sweden to change its name to Ikea, just to tell the Americans that these things need to be resolved.” in Milanovic.

Historically neutral Sweden and Finland have both taken steps to join NATO in recent weeks, citing the conflict between Russia and Ukraine.

Croatia became a NATO member in 2009 and joined the EU in 2013, when Milanovic was Prime Minister. The Social Democrat politician has been president since October 2020. However, it is not clear whether his threat to veto NATO expansion will work in practice, as the nationalist party HDZ has a parliamentary majority.


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