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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Croats Abandon Mostar Council

MOSTAR, Bosnia -- With Bosnian Croats refusing to sit on a recently elected city council, European officials administering Mostar on Wednesday faced failure of their two-year quest to bring peace to Bosnia's most divided town.


"We are in a vacuum," said Dragan Gasic, European Union spokesman in Mostar.


The EU's mandate to run the city expired Monday at midnight, he noted.


On Tuesday, Croats boycotted a meeting of the city council elected in a city ballot June 30 that was narrowly won by Moslem parties and which the Croats insist was flawed. Talks to resolve the crisis got nowhere.


That left the new EU administrator for the city, Britain's Sir Martin Garrod, no choice but to inform political bosses in Brussels that there was no basis for cooperating with a non-existent city government, Gasic said.


"The new local government has not been formed, and a solution for that has not been found," he said.


Ireland, which holds the EU presidency, was in contact with Croatian President Franjo Tudjman on the issue, said EU foreign affairs spokesman Nico Wegter in Brussels.


Croatia wields the most influence over Mostar's hardline Croat leaders.


"Winding up the operation is being considered," said an EU official in Brussels, insisting on anonymity. "But that, of course, is what the Croats want. And that is the dilemma."


In Croatia, Deputy Foreign Minister Ivan Simonovic insisted that Zagreb wants no such thing.


"We are trying to find a temporary solution acceptable to both sides," he said.