Vareš - Croatian Parliament Speaker Josip Leko said during his visit to the central Bosnian town of Vareš on Wednesday that Croatia would continue providing support not just to Bosnia and Herzegovina as a state, but also to local communities to encourage and sustain the return of Croats to their pre-war homes.
Leko said that despite "the exodus of Croats" from the area during the 1992-1995 war, more had been done to facilitate their return there than in many other parts of the country. He said that inter-ethnic relations in the Vares area were very good and the local authorities had great ambitions for development of the area. "Croatia has recognised this as a good stake in the European and democratic Bosnia and Herzegovina, and we will continue working on it," said Leko, who was leading a Croatian Parliament delegation on a two-day official visit to the country.
The head of Vareš municipality, Avdija Kovačević, thanked Croatia for its assistance. "I wish to thank Croatia for the assistance it has so far extended to Vares municipality, which has been impressive in material terms and unselfish in political terms," he told the press. Parish priest Mirko Majdandžić told Hina that the entire municipality was facing problems shared by other communities in Bosnia and Herzegovina. "This reminds me of Srebrenica a little," he said, alluding to a halved population and a failed local economy that had once relied on an iron-ore mine and an ironworks.
According to the priest, about 2,100 Catholic Croats now live in the Vareš parish, compared to over 5,000 before the war. In about 1,000 households most members are pensioners; about 160 Croat children attend the local primary school and 70 attend the secondary school, while about 70 study at universities. The priest has no doubts that once they complete their studies they will seek a livelihood elsewhere because the town they were born in offers no future. (Hina)