National Federation of Croatian Americans - Letter to US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton
National Federation of Croatian Americans Cultural Foundation Issues Text of Letter to US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton Concerning Croats in Bosnia and Herzegovina
(Washington, D.C.) The National Federation of Croatian Americans Cultural Foundation (NFCA CF) released today the text of a letter from its President, John P. Kraljic, addressed to US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. In the letter, Mr. Kraljic expressed the NFCA CF’s growing concern with the status of Croats and the Roman Catholic Church in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH).
The NFCA CF had been motivated in part by a recent letter from Bishop Franjo Komarica of Banja Luka to officials of the Republika Srpska (RS) complaining about the apparent connivance of RS police forces with attacks on personal and real property of Croats in Bishop Komarica’s Diocese. In his letter to Secretary Clinton, Mr. Kraljic further expressed the NFCA CF’s belief that the subordination of the constitutional, political and economic rights of Croats in BiH has led both to the trampling of Croat rights in RS as well as elsewhere in the country. Mr. Kraljic specifically called on Secretary Clinton not to sanction any settlements concerning the future of BiH that may be reached between Serb and Bosniak leaders at the expense of the Croats and Catholics of the country.
The full text of Mr. Kraljic’s letter is attached.
The NFCA CF is the national umbrella organization of Croatian American groups that collectively represents approximately 130,000 members. For additional public affairs information, please contact Mr. Joe Foley, Public Affairs Director, at (301) 294-0937, or NFCA CF Headquarters at (301) 208-6650. The email address isNFCAhdq@verizon.net. For recent newsletters, important NFCA CF membership application and chapter information, and other Croatian American news please visit the Web Site atwww.nfcaonline.com.
National Federation of Croatian Americans Cultural Foundation (NFCA CF)2401 Research Blvd, Suite 115
Rockville, MD 20850
PHONE: (301) 208-6650
FAX: (301) 208-6659
WEB SITE: www.nfcaonline.com
NATIONAL FEDERATION OF CROATIAN AMERICANS
The Honorable Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
US Department of State
2201 C Street, NW
Washington, DC 20520
Dear Madame Secretary:
The National Federation of Croatian Americans Cultural Foundation wishes to express its continued concern with the status of Croats and the Roman Catholic Church in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH).
Since the signing of the Dayton Peace Accords (DPA) in November 1995, the situation of the Croats and the Catholic Church in BiH has steadily deteriorated. On one hand, the hundreds of thousands of ethnically cleansed Croats in the Republika Srpska (RS), along with the predominately Muslim Bosniaks, remain subject to continued pressure forestalling their return to their homes. On the other hand, Croats in the Bosniak-Croat Federation have found that the Federation’s peculiar constitutional provisions have effectively left them without a voice in the three-man presidency of BiH.
The ongoing problems confronting Catholics and Croats in BiH have been recently highlighted again by Bishop Franjo Komarica of Banja Luka, whose diocese is based in the RS. A January 12, 2011, report by the Catholic Press Agency of Bosnia’s Bishops’ Conference notes that Bishop Komarica had sent a letter the previous day to the head of the Center for Public Security (CPS) in Banja Luka. The letter detailed numerous cases of the destruction of personal and real property of Croat returnees from the area, including in Šimići, Ivanjska, and Raljaš. In each of these cases, the complaints of the local Croats have been ignored by local RS police forces that are, apparently, working in concert with the perpetrators.
At first glance these incidents may appear to be nothing more than acts of petty crime. However, we believe that - given the history of the RS and the continued threats made by RS leaders to secede from BiH - they are part of an organized attempt to pressure the Croats of the RS to either leave the territory of the RS or to cow them into remaining silent in opposing the position taken by RS authorities concerning the future of BiH.
The fact that the Croats of Banja Luka feel compelled to turn to their Bishop for assistance with respect to these crimes further shows the legal and constitutional inadequacies of the DPA as it relates to the protection of the political rights for all Croats in BiH. This most recently became evident yet again after the re-election of Željko Komšić of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) to the seat reserved for Croats in the three-man Presidency
While we certainly do not deny the legitimacy of President Komšić’s election, we must note that his election to this position had been, as practically all observers recognize, achieved almost exclusively through the votes of Bosniak supporters of the SDP in the Federation. The SDP has taken the position that BiH must be January 24, 2011 restructured as a unitary state. This is contrary to the position taken by the large majority of Croat political
parties in BiH. The latter fear that such a restructuring of the country, where the government will be elected based on a rule of one man-one vote, would cause the interests of Croats (the smallest of BiH’s three constituent peoples) to be subordinated to the domination of the numerically superior Serbs and Bosniaks. Such a political regimen would eliminate the already weak institutional safeguards that protect the Croats of BiH.
These weak safeguards have had real economic consequences as the state-dominated economy steers its largesse toward Bosniak and Serb dominated areas at the expense of the Croats. This has in turn caused the declining and alarming demographic position of Croats in BiH to deteriorate further.
Madame Secretary, we ask that the U.S. State Department take the foregoing into account and make known its displeasure with the attacks being undertaken against Croats in the RS. We respectfully request that your Department forcefully make known that it will not sanction any political, economic, legal, or constitutional settlements that may be reached between Serb and Bosniak leaders at the expense of the Croats and Catholics of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
If the National Federation of Croatian Americans may provide additional information regarding our concerns as stated above, we would be pleased to do so. Your staff may contact the NFCA’s Public Affairs Director, Mr. Joe Foley, in Washington on telephone 301-294-0937.
John P. Kraljic
US Senator John Kerry, Chair, Senate Foreign Relations Committee
US Senator Richard Lugar, Ranking Member, Senate Foreign Relations Committee
US Senator Mark Begich
US Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Chair, House Foreign Affairs Committee
US Representative Howard Berman, Ranking Member, House Foreign Affairs Committee
US Representatives Peter Visclosky and Elton Gallegly, Congressional Croatian Caucus
Msgr. David Malloy, General Secretary, US Conference of Catholic Bishops
Bishop Howard Hubbard, Chair, Committee on International Justice and Peace, USCCB
National Federation of Croatian Americans
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