Croatian President Zoran Milanovic plans to instruct Ambassador Mario Nobilo, the country’s permanent representative in NATO, to block Finland’s and Sweden’s accession to the US-led organization, he said on Wednesday.
Denying consent would draw the attention of the international community to the problems facing ethnic Croats in neighboring Bosnia and Herzegovina, Milanovic told reporters. Under current electoral laws, Croatian representatives tend to be elected with the votes of Bosnian Muslims, also known as Bosniaks. Zagreb is pushing to revise this.
“I have said before, Croats in Bosnia are more important to me than the entire Russian-Finnish border,” Milanovic said.
Stockholm and Helsinki formally broke with their history of neutrality on 15 May and applied for membership in NATO. Acceptance of new countries to the bloc, however, requires the unanimous consent of all members.
Turkey “showed how to fight for national interests,” Milanovic said, pointing to Ankara’s opposition to any agreement that lets Sweden and Finland into NATO until they condemn “terrorists and their accomplices” associated with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and the Revolutionary People’s Liberation Front (DHKP / C), among other concessions.
“Turkey will certainly not give in until it gets what it wants,” the Croatian president said.
Milanovic’s recent comments have put more strain on his already packed relationship with Prime Minister Andrei Plenkovic’s government, which he has accused of not standing up for Croatian interests, the local news media N1 reported.
Croatian Foreign Minister Gordan Grlic-Radman told state radio on Wednesday that Nobilo has already been told to “approve Finland and Sweden’s membership application” and “will be authorized to sign a protocol that will follow in the coming days.”
The Croatian parliament is “absolutely certain” of ratifying the agreement, Grlic-Radman added.