Bosnian officials and religious leaders denounced on Wednesday suggestions expressed by Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban and his spokesman that the integration of Bosnia and Herzegovina into the European Union will be difficult due to its large Muslim population.
Orban spokesman Zoltan Kovacs tweeted that “the challenge with Bosnia is how to integrate a country with 2 million Muslims”.
During his lengthy speech in Budapest on Tuesday, right-wing populist Orban said Hungary supported Bosnia and Herzegovina’s candidacy for the EU, adding that as an EU member Hungary needed to mobilize a lot of ‘energy to overcome’ the enlargement fatigue which has gripped the European Union. Union.”
“I’m doing my best to convince the top European leaders that the Balkans may be further from them than from Hungary, but the way we handle the security of a state in which 2 million Muslims live is also a key issue for their safety, ”he said. noted.
The reaction in Bosnia and Herzegovina has been sharp, with some Bosnian parties calling for a ban on Orban’s planned official visit to Sarajevo and the leader of the Muslim community, Grand Mufti Husein Kavazovic, calling his statement “xenophobic and racist” .
“If such ideologies become the basis on which the policies of a united Europe are built, it harkens back to the days when European unity was to be built on similar fascist, Nazi, violent and genocidal ideologies that led to the ‘Holocaust and other horrific crimes,’ he said in a statement.
Bosnian member of the country’s tripartite presidency, Sefik Dzaferovic, called Orban’s statement “shameful and crass”.
“It is not a challenge for the EU to integrate 2 million Muslims (Bosnians), because we are an indigenous European people who have always lived here and we are European,” he said.
Bosnia and Herzegovina, made up of Bosniaks, Serbs and Croats, is going through its most serious political crisis since the end of the civil war in the 1990s. With the tacit support of Russia and Serbia, the Bosnian Serbs are threatening to form their own army, justice and fiscal authority, rekindling fears of another bloody breakdown of the Balkan country.
During his speech on Tuesday, Orban also said Hungary would not support EU sanctions against Bosnian Serb leader Milorad Dodik, threatened by Germany and some other member states because of his separatist positions.
“Sarajevo has lost its temper, it’s attacking everyone – Serbia, Croatia, Slovenia, now Hungary. Not to mention Russia,” Dodik said on Wednesday, referring to the support he allegedly received from those countries.
Orban is known for his anti-migration policies, claiming that Muslim migrants are the greatest threat to Europe’s Christian values. He also supported Serbia’s early accession to the EU despite the increasingly autocratic policies of his ally, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic.
Over 100,000 people were killed and millions were left homeless during the 1992-95 war in Bosnia and Herzegovina when the Bosnian Serbs attempted to create ethnically pure territories in order to join them with neighboring Serbia.