news 12 Apr 13

Logjam Over Bosnia Rights Ruling Disappoints EU

After talks with Bosnian leaders, EU Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Fule said with regret that Bosnia's EU failure to agree on a key rights ruling would stall its European advance.

Elvira M. Jukic

The EU Enlargement Commissioner has given Bosnia a stark warning after meeting leaders of the seven main parties on April 11 to discuss implementation of the Sejdic and Finci human rights ruling, which is a key to advancing the country's EU progress.

The 2009 European Court of Human Rights ruling told Bosnia to change its constitution to allow ethnic minorities to run for top governing posts currently reserved for Bosniaks [Muslims], Serbs and Croats.

After the meetings, Stefan Fule noted with regret that the parties had not made meaningful progress more than three years after the ruling.

“The political leadership here has not prioritized the EU agenda and translated its declared commitments on the EU into concrete action,” Fule said. “This is very disappointing.”

He added that without implementation of the ruling, Bosnia cannot move its EU integration process forward.

Implementing the ruling was urgent, he said, adding that he will further consult the EU high representative, Catherine Ashton, and the EU member states.

Zlatko Lagumdzija, Bosnia's Foreign Minister and the leader of the ruling Social Democrats, SDP, said after the meeting that there was little chance of the seven party leaders reaching a solution themselves.

“The six or seven political leaders who are talking about implementation of the Sejdic and Finci ruling change their opinions every day,” Lagumdzija said.

“Maybe we could reach an agreement with a more active role on the part of European institutions in general,” he added.

He noted two models for a solution, both focused on method of electing members of the State Presidency.

The first model, agreed in Brussels last month, was that one member would be chosen directly by the Republika Srpska entity while the two others would be elected indirectly by the Federation entity parliament.

The second model was direct elections to the presidency without any ethnic denomination, which has been deemed unacceptable.

Fule said that he regretted that some of the party leaders focused exclusively on their party and ethnic interests with a view to preserving the current arrangements favouring the three constituent peoples.

He also clearly noted that further general elections in Bosnia would not be considered acceptable by European institutions.

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