Croatian Ambassador to Bosnia to be dismissed over attending RS Day celebration

Davor Puklavec/PIXSELL (ilustracija)

Procedure is under way to dismiss the Croatian Ambassador to Bosnia and Herzegovina, Ivan Del Vechio, the Croatian government confirmed for N1 on Friday.

Del Vechio will be dismissed because he attended the controversial celebration of the Republika Srpska Day in Banja Luka earlier this week. The holiday is celebrated in the Bosnian Serb entity Republika Srpska (RS), but has been declared unconstitutional by Bosnia’s Constitutional Court.

As part of the ceremony this week, a former RS army general Slavko Lisica was posthumously decorated. Lisica had been tried in absentia in Croatia and sentenced to 15 years in prison for war crimes in the Croatian Adriatic city of Sibenik in 1991, but has never served his sentence. He died in Belgrade in 2013.

Del Vechio's presence in Banja Luka drew criticism from Croatian political leadership, with Veteran's Affairs Minister Tomo Medved and Defence Minister Damir Krsticevic calling it inappropriate and a “disgrace.” He was recalled to Croatia for consultations on Thursday after the Croatian Foreign Ministry confirmed they had no prior knowledge of his decision to attend the event.

Del Vechio told N1 earlier today that he had not really attended the ceremony itself, but was there to meet with Milorad Dodik, current chairman and Serb representative of Bosnia’s tripartite Presidency.

He has, however, acknowledged that the date chosen for the meeting was awkward.

“I did not attend the ceremonial inspection of the honour guards, nor the awarding of decorations. I would never think of going to that,” Del Vechio told N1 on Friday.

Another reason for the decision to recall Del Vechio is that his four-year term as ambassador had expired last year, the government said, adding they had not recalled him then because 2018 was election year in Bosnia.

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