We will block Sweden and Finland from joining NATO, says Croatia

We will block Sweden and Finland from joining NATO, says Croatia Source: Damir Sencar/HINA/POOL/PIXSELL/Social Democratic Party of Croatia

The announcement of Croatian President Zoran Milanovic on Tuesday, April 26and may surprise some, but he says “we will block Sweden and Finland from joining” because their candidacies will provoke Russia.

Croatia, which has yet to ratify its NATO membership, believes that any application for membership from Scandinavian states will do little more than provoke Russian President Vladimir Putin. Croatia has its own problems as it tries to get Bosnia and Herzegovina to update its electoral law.

Milanovic told reporters in Zagreb that: “As far as I’m concerned, they can get into NATO, they can poke the rabid bear in the eye with a pen.

“However, until the question of the electoral law in Bosnia and Herzegovina is resolved, until the Americans, the English, the Germans, if they can and want to, force Sarajevo and Bakir Izetbegovic to update the electoral law within the next six months and grant Croats their basic rights, the Sabor must not ratify anyone’s admission to NATO”.

NATO cannot admit new members without the approval of current members.

“Let the President or the Secretary of State hear this now. Let’s see what they can do for Croatia. I’m tired of ignoring and neglecting a member of NATO and the EU, and sidelining Croatia,” adding that if the United States and its Western European allies want both Scandinavian countries in NATO, “they will have to listen to Croatia”.

Croatia’s grievance is that under the 1995 constitution that ended the civil war, ethnic Croats in neighboring Bosnia and Herzegovina are recognized as equals. But the country wants this group to be able to elect its own representatives and not as is the case now, where representatives are elected by the wider community, the majority of which are Bosnian Muslims, also known as Bosniaks.

Milanovic has many other gripes, including the EU’s refusal to admit Romania and Bulgaria to the Schengen border crossing arrangement, the lack of recognition of Kosovo which broke away from Serbia and the lack progress in talks with Albania and North Macedonia. The latter having changed their name to overcome the Greek objections.

He said, “We’re not asking Finland or Sweden to change their name to Ikea, just telling the Americans that these issues need to be addressed.”

Both countries remained neutral for many years but the invasion of Ukraine and threats from Russia made them think again.

Croatia was accepted as a NATO member in 2009 and the country joined the EU in 2013 when Milanovic was prime minister. What is unclear, however, is whether he will be able to see his threat to block Sweden’s and Finland’s NATO membership, as the nationalist opposition HDZ party has a parliamentary majority.

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