According to General Slobodan Praljak, in September 1993 there was a rumor that BH ‘will cease to exist’, and it was therefore quite logical for Franjo Tudjman and Fikret Abdic to discuss the possible annexation of Western Bosnia to neighboring Croatia

Slobodan Praljak svjedoči u svoju odbranuSlobodan Praljak svjedoči u svoju odbranu

Continuing his examination of the accused, presiding judge Jean-Claude Antonetti brought to General Praljak’s attention parts of the presidential transcripts used by the prosecution to corroborate its argument on Croatia’s aspirations towards BH territory. Former Bosnian Croat leaders are charged with taking part in a joint criminal enterprise headed by Franjo Tudjman and aimed at annexing parts of BH to the neighboring Croatia to reach the Banovina borders of 1939.

In the transcript of a conversation from September 1993, Fikret Abdic, leader of the self-proclaimed Autonomous Province of Western Bosnia, proposes to Tudjman that Herceg Bosna and Western Bosnia should recognize each other. A peace agreement should be signed making Herceg Bosna an autonomous province too. In that case, Western Bosnia and the other province, Herceg Bosna, would join Croatia. This, as the judge noted, would imply the dissolution of BH.

Praljak claims that the conversation was hypothetical: ‘what would happen if BH broke apart’. The fate of BH, Praljak noted, was uncertain at that time and there was a rumor that it would cease to exist after the war. After all, Praljak added, ‘the war was about the territory’ and it was perfectly normal to talk about what would happen to parts of a disintegrated country.

When Judge Antonetti asked Praljak why that plan had not been implemented in the end, Praljak replied that the Americans had interfered at that point and ‘started persuading’ the Croats and Muslims to set up a confederation with close ties to Croatia. After the signing of the Washington peace agreements, based on the idea of confederal ties between BH and Croatia, Americans gave up on the plan since ‘they didn’t need it any more’.

According to Praljak, all of Tudjman's statements implying Croatia had aspirations towards BH territory can be seen as an all too logical interest for the fate of Croats in BH. In Praljak’s worlds, it was only a strong feeling of duty to help the Croatian people everywhere.