Professor Dejan Jović held a lecture to Burch University students on „Croatia’s 2020 EU Presidency: What can Bosnia and Herzegovina expect?ˮ
Prof. Jović opened his lecture with the Croatian presidency of European Union in the first half of 2020, and highlighted the 4 pivotal areas set by the premier of Republic of Croatia, Mr Andrej Plenković. Professor Jović delivered the speech to International Burch University students and students from Richmond Park Collage Sarajevo.
First priority is the notion of Developing EU, which includes the continuity of economic growth. Economic growth is supposed to continue evenly, or even with privilege to economically weaker states, to reduce economic differences between the centre and periphery of EU.
Next priority is the Connecting EU. This notion is a part of Connectivity agenda, which not only includes building infrastructures, roads and rails, but highlight connection between people. Connectivity agenda is implemented via Eramus+ programmes, student exchange programmes, etc. and possible creation of European society.
Protective Europe is the third priority of Croatian presidency of EU, which includes security of EU. Security from all threats in the countries of EU, like terrorism, is one of the key aspects, but it also includes the protection of borders of EU. Croatia is located on the outer border of EU, so it is in Croatian interest for a border protection to be a priority.
Fourth priority is EU which influences, focus is set on USA and Russia, with idea to spread the influence and to focus policies in collaboration with world powers or not. This also includes the goal of involvement in further policies outside EU. The goal is also to connect ideas worldwide and form a united Europe.
“Strong Europe in the world full of challenges” is the Croatian motto of building EU. Professor Jović comments on the slogan as even though it is pro-EU, developed from opinions of government and individuals, such as Mr Plenković, it is not accepted neither by the people nor the structure.
Foreign policy of Croatia tends to focus on the integration to the Europe, which includes Euro currency and being a members of Schengen zone countries. Goal is to also have greater influence on Europe and in EU structures, especially with growing number of Croatian representatives on highly-positioned functions in the EU.
However, attitude from the president, Mrs Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović is all about transatlantic influence and influence in the EU. Though she prefers focus on the “Three Seas Initiative” and this creation of new Europe. Therefore, the main challenge Croatia faces, is how to find a balance between USA and EU, as each leads different policies.
Professor Jović spoke about EU enlargement and Croatian point of view towards the topic. Croatia is divided between the opinion about being the part of Western Balkans or not. President Grabar-Kitarović shifts emphasis on the west, rather than on the Balkans, so it is only logical to focus on further Croatian progress, rather than on what hinders their development.
Regarding the constitution, Croatian citizens outside the Croatia are important for the state, and constitutions specifically focuses on the Croatians in BiH, so the question rising is how Croatia can neglect Balkan, when Croatian citizens in BiH have voting right and directly influence Croatian politics. Croatia also borders with three Balkan states, which only emphasise the importance of their relations.
The topic of relations between Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina was not left out by professor Jović. He highlights the importance of Croatian view towards BiH, as not a part of concept of Western Balkans. It is in Croatian focus and interest for BiH to join EU, as soon as possible.
On another hand, Croatian statements about Europeanization were considered fascistic and patriotic, which only recap the crash of civilizations and the politics from the 1990s. Europe is also loaded with stereotypes and judgements about the Balkans, and disputes about whether BiH is European enough. The two factors interconnect.
Professor Jović concluded with the questions from the students regarding the relations between Croatia and BiH, with opinions about politics of President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović and how her decisions influence BiH. But he mentioned that EU and Croatia expect BiH to enter EU, as it is in their interest, and BiH’s too.