HB

Hido Biscevic, well recognized and esteemed Croatian diplomat, author and former journalist, was born in Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina, in 1951. into a Croatian family that two years later moved to Zagreb, where he completed his education, from elementary school to graduation at the Faculty of Political Science of the Zagreb University.

As early as during the grammar school days he developed a strong inclination for journalism and started to work in a number of student newspapers, from Omladinski Tjednik to Polet, quite often confronting the narratives and rules of the political system of the time, to the extent of being prohibited to write or loosing jobs.

In 1974. he joined the leading weekly, Vjesnik u srijedu, and started to actively follow international affairs, particularly focusing on the Middle East affairs, as a correspondent and commentator on Israeli-Palestinian relations, Lebanon, Iran, Afghanistan, Central Asia… Wide experience and insight enabled him to write several books: „Time of Decision“ on Palestinian intifada in early Eighties, „In the name of Allah” on the rise of Ayatolah Homeini and Islamic revolution in Iran. (Widely unknown, HB was the very first international journalist that entered besieged American Embassy in Teheran in 1978, and talked to the American diplomats held hostages there). Some of this material was used in the „Blood on the Water“, a book on the Iran – Iraqi war of 1981. From 1980. he was a Foreign Affairs Editor of the influential daily Vjesnik, and on the eve of the Croatian independence took over the post Editor-in-Chief. Tense and confrontational period leading to dissolution of the former Yugoslavia, leading to a sequence of wars against independence seeking former republics, foremostly Croatia, led him to write another book, „Strategy of Chaos“, exposing goals and methods behind the ultra-nationalistic and aggressive agenda of the ruling regime in Serbia at the time.

Following the establishment of the new Croatian independent diplomatic service, HB joined the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as Head of Middle East and Central Asia Department. And soon he advanced to the position of Adviser to the Minister and during those challenging and trying times from this high post he was assisting the most inner circle of the Croatian leadership and President Tudjman.

In 1993 HB was appointed the first Croatian Ambassador to Turkey, and over these turbulent years of wars in the Balkans – in particular, during the complex and volatile Bosnia-Herzegovina crisis – he managed to engage Turkey as the most active partner and understanding supporter of Croatia. Turkey joined Croatia in efforts to engage international community, and motivate the U.S. in particular, to steer through dramatic events that led to the end of war and a framework of political solutions that eventually resulted in the Dayton Peace Agreements. In fact, HB was behind the first drafts of documents that led to the U.S. engagement in what ended with the Washington Agreements, a crucial political foundation for the Dayton Framework Peace Agreements for Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Working behind the scene, HB made a significant contribution and mark during those years – he was the author of the Split Declaration, the political document that provided for a political framework for lifting of the Bihac siege, and further joint Croatia-BH military actions in the aftermath of the Croatian Operation Storm. Widely unknown, he was behind the resolution of potential huge humanitarian crisis in the wake of intra-Bosniacs fighting in North-Western Bosnia, when tens of thousands refugees were fleeing to Croatia fearful of revenge. He was also among the select Croatian diplomats behind the first steps and attempts to begin post-war normalization process with Serbia in the wake of peaceful reintegration of the Eastern Slavonia region.

At that time HB was already Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs, and from that post he was appointed the Croatian Ambassador to Moscow – a truly challenging post bearing in mind the predominant Russian political inclination to Serbia. The process of post-war normalization of relations between Croatia and Serbia had just barely started whilst in the background the upcoming broader geopolitical competition over the Balkans was already looming, so tah it took a great deal of diplomatic skill to have a good relations with Russia at the time when Croatia had the EU and NATO membership as its strategic goals. Indeed, during HB tenure in Moscow, Russia has followed a rather balanced policy towards Serbia and Croatia, and President Tudjman was invited to Moscow just four weeks after HB presented his credintials to President Jeltsin.

Following elections in 2002. and the beginning of a new period in Croatian political life – after the two landmark events: demise of President Tudjman and formal application for the EU membership – HB has been invited by the new Government to take up position of State Secretary for Political Affairs. This high post enabled him to participate in and influence important activities and negotations leading to the NATO and EU membership which meant that key Croatia’s historical goals were being attained and realized.

As developments in Croatia’s south-eastern neighbourhood were still complex and main challenges remind unresolved, and as they could have still cast shadow over the Croatia’s EU accession negotiation, HB opted for new challenge: in 2007. he has been appointed to the post of Secretary General of the newly established Regional Cooperation Council for South Eastern Europe, with the strong EU, US, NATO, and broad international community support in general. HB had been formally appointed to the RCC post in the presence of German Chancelor Angela Merkel, US Deputy Secretary of State Nicholas Burns, EU High Representative for Foreign and Security policy Javier Solana, and a number of other high ranking international politicians. Not overly distracted by a series od endless crises in its immediate neighbourhood (e.g. Montenegro independence, unresolved Bosnia crisis, looming Kosovo independance and its fallout, FYROM issue, etc.) Croatia started negotiating the EU accession while a Croatian diplomat was at the helm of an institution dealing with the turbulent region.

Having completed two mandates as the RCC Secretary General, HB returned to the Croatian MFA and was soon invited by the OSCE Secretary General Lamberto Zanier to lead OSCE Project on National Dialogue in Ukraine, exactly at the time of emerging crisis and Crimea and Donbas developments. Heading an observation team, cooperating with the Kiev based diplomats and Ukrainian institutions in a last minute attempt to assist in overcoming Ukrainian internal divisions and polarization, HB actually was at the heart of one of the most, if not the most important geopolitical and geostrategic developments after the fall of the Wall, which brought about one of the deepest cracks in the post-WW2 European security and stability order and arrangements. HB was one of the leading candidates for the position of the Head of the OSCE Observation Mission in Ukraine and, later, also for the post ofthe OSCE Special Representative for National Minorities.

In the last leg of his long and inspiring career, HB joined European External Action Service and was appointed to the post of Head of the EU Delegation to Tajikistan, as the first diplomat from Croatia to take such high ranking post – challenging in itself, as Tajikistan’s post-independence legacy of Civil War, security challenges and spill-overs from Afghanistan, plus mutually competing agendas and interests of regional and global actors over Tajikistan and Central Asia brought the country to the full focus of the EU, regardless of its remoteness from the EU zone. Service in Tajikistan also provided a first-hand opportunity to observe the relations between the type of political system and socio-economic development: closed political system as a framework for accelerated economic and social moderization. In addition, post in Tajikistan provided a good opportunity to observe and give input to another important component of the EU foreign policy: striking the balance between the EU propheted values and the EU security interests.

Having completed his mandate in Dushanbe, HB returned to Croatia and focused on the establishment of the facility that would enable appropriate form of continuation of diplomatic activities and sharing of his wide and rich experience and knowledge by bringing together experts and interested individuals in a secluded and relaxing atmosphere of Diplomatic Country Club.

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