Croatian Foreign Minister Miro Kovac said in Banja Luka, in the Bosnian Serb entity of Republika Srpska, on Thursday that Croatia would continue to support the return of Croats to that entity, saying at talks with Banja Luka Bishop Franjo Komarica that the expulsion of 190,000 local Croats in the 1992-95 war was a tragedy that must never be forgotten.
"We support the return of Croats to this part of Bosnia and Herzegovina. It is a duty of the Croatian government to help Croats in Bosnia and Herzegovina, particularly in this part of the country where Croats have almost disappeared," Kovac told a news conference after meeting with the Roman Catholic dignitary.
He called on members of the Croat community from the Serb entity to return to their prewar homes and to stay there.
Kovac said that before the war, the Croat community in what is now the Bosnian Serb entity had around 200,000 members while today it had around 10,000. "It is a tragedy that must never be forgotten," he said, commending the work of the Catholic Education Centre in Banja Luka which he visited today and which is supported also by Croatia.
"Eighty percent of students are of Serb Orthodox background, which bears evidence of the centre's inclusiveness. The public in Croatia and in the international community is not aware of the great role the centre has in healing war wounds and promoting tolerance in this part of Bosnia and Herzegovina," Kovac said among other things.
Earlier in the day, Kovac attended a ministerial meeting of the Central European Initiative, held in Banja Luka.
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