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Croatian President Denies 'Militant Islam' Insult Of Bosnia


Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic in Israel on July 29.

Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic has dismissed an Israeli newspaper's account of her remarks during an official visit that quoted her accusing neighboring Bosnia-Herzegovina of being "controlled by militant Islam."

The Jerusalem Post has since deleted its initial description of her comments on Bosnia and the article's author was said to have backed away from that part of the July 31 report.

The quotes -- particularly alleging that EU aspirant Bosnia contributed to instability or was in the hold of militant Islam -- sparked widespread anger in Bosnia.

Asked by local Balkan media if she had said Bosnia was controlled by militant Islam, Grabar-Kitarovic replied, "Absolutely not."

She described them as "comments on the comments of one journalist. I repeat: I did not say that."

The Jerusalem Post left in a passage quoting Grabar-Kitarovic as saying Croatia's border with Bosnia-Herzegovina "was very unstable" and "had in some respects been taken over by people who have connections with Iran and terrorist organizations."

'Brutal Falsehoods'

The statements attributed to the Croatian president were roundly rejected by two members of Bosnia's joint presidency.

"I'm sorry that the Croatian president continues to pursue propaganda activities at the expense of Bosnia by presenting brutal falsehoods. But it seems that when it comes to these antics, this is not the exception but a rule in Grabar-Kitarovic's treatment of Bosnia," Zeljko Komsic, the Croat member of Bosnia's tripartite presidency, said.

"She's unstable, not Bosnia," he added.

Sefik Dzaferovic, the Bosnian Muslim member of the presidency, said they were "heinous allegations that were not substantiated by any evidence."

He accused her of "repeating the lies that spread xenophobia."

Grabar-Kitarovic has in the past alleged that Islamic extremists were making Bosnia a regional security threat, including in 2016 when she said thousands of Islamic State fighters were returning from Middle East conflicts to Bosnia.

Grabar-Kitarovic, a former foreign minister and envoy to the United States and NATO, has been president since edging out incumbent Ivo Josipovic in 2015.

Croatia's ambassador to Sarajevo was reportedly summoned by Komsic to explain the July 31 reports quoting Grabar-Kitarovic as slamming Bosnia.

The envoy, Ivan Sabolic, reportedly dismissed the Israeli newspaper account.

Croatia takes over the EU's six-month rotating presidency in January.

Incoming European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen this week called Croatia a "tremendous success story" and encouraged its entry to the eurozone and the Schengen Area, which is free of border controls.

With reporting by RFE/RL's Balkan Service, N1 TV, Balkan Insight, The Jerusalem Post, and Kamenjar.com
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