The Croatian Consulate was opened in the Sava river town of Orasje in northern Bosnia and Herzegovina on Thursday, with Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic attending.
Plenkovic said that in this way Zagreb was signalling its desire to further advance political and economic relations with Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Croatia wants Bosnia and Herzegovina to achieve as quickly as possible the key goals of reform efforts being undertaken by the Council of Ministers led by Borjana Kristo and to use its status as EU membership candidate to open accession talks with the European Union, the Croatian prime minister said.
Plenkovic pointed out that Croatia remains the strongest advocate of Bosnia and Herzegovina's EU path, adding that this commitment is part of the strong, continued and responsible policy of Croatia and the government he has been leading for seven years.
Kristo thanked the Croatian government for opening the consulate, the sixth in Bosnia and Herzegovina, expressing confidence that the consulate would strengthen the good ties between the two countries.
“This is more than just issuing documents. This is a contribution to even better relations between Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia,” Kristo said, expressing hope that “a road of confidence” would be built in Bosnia and Herzegovina so that it could make the necessary progress in the EU integration process.
Speaking of economic relations, Plenkovic said that trade between the two countries had reached €4 billion last year, and that €1.3 billion of investment in Bosnia and Herzegovina from Croatia confirmed “how important we are to each other as trading partners.” He added that Croatia would be the partner country at the Mostar Trade Fair next year.
Croatian Minister of Foreign and European Affairs Gordan Grlic-Radman said that the opening of the consulate in Orasje sent a strong message that Croatia wanted to strengthen its relations with Bosnia and Herzegovina and that Zagreb was a true advocate of the EU integration of Bosnia and Herzegovina as an integral and sovereign country.
He said that Croatia had funded and co-funded a number of projects in Orasje and Posavina Canton.
“In 2022, Bosnia and Herzegovina was the biggest recipient of Croatian bilateral aid, with more than 40 programmes and projects implemented, worth €16.7 million. In addition, the Croatian government funded and co-funded a number of projects in Orašje and Posavina Canton through programmes of the Central State Office for Croats Abroad,” the Croatian foreign minister said.
Bosnia and Herzegovina's Foreign Minister Elmedin Konakovic thanked the Croatian government for the assistance, announcing that the Consulate of Bosnia and Herzegovina in the northern Adriatic city of Rijeka would be fully operational soon.
“Croatia is Bosnia and Herzegovina's second largest trading partner and trade is growing steadily,” Konakovic said.
Among those attending the opening ceremony were Croatian deputy prime ministers Tomo Medved, Davor Bozinovic and Oleg Butkovic and the chairman of the Croatian National Assembly of Bosnia and Herzegovina and leader of the Croatian Democratic Union of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Dragan Covic.
After the opening ceremony, representatives of the Croatian National Assembly of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the umbrella organisation of leading Croatian political parties in the country, and the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ), the ruling party in Croatia, will hold a meeting.