news 11 Oct 13

EU Threatens Bosnia Sanctions Over Rights Failure

The threat to cut pre-accession funds came as Bosnian political party bosses again failed to agree on election reforms to satisfy a European rights court ruling on ethnic equality.

Elvira M. Jukic

EU enlargement commissioner Stefan Fule said after meeting representatives of Bosnian ruling parties on Thursday that the politicians have not honoured their commitments to find a solution to implement the rights ruling, so funding cuts could follow.

“Procedures for reducing the initially foreseen IPA 2013 [pre-accession] programme for Bosnia and Herzegovina by 54 per cent, ie. 47 million euro, will be launched,” Fule said in a statement.

However, he cautioned: “If there is a solution that could be developed over the next days, this procedure could still be stopped.”

Fule said that the European court’s ‘Sejdic and Finci’ rights ruling – which said that people who do not identify themselves as Bosniaks, Croats or Serbs should be allowed to hold high office – must be implemented to eliminate discrimination against minorities and clear Bosnia's path towards EU membership.

“A solution needs to be agreed by the political leaders of [Bosnia and Herzegovina] without delay so that it can be applied for the general elections of 2014,” Fule said.

“Another election in violation of the European Convention on Human Rights would seriously undermine the legitimacy and credibility of the future elected bodies,” he warned.

Bosnian media reported that Dragan Covic, the leader of the Croatian Democratic Union, HDZ, said that the ruling parties would talk again about the disputed method for electing members of Bosnia’s tripartite presidency – currently reserved for a Bosniak, a Croat and a Serb.

“There is a way to do that, but, believe me, half of us did not understand the idea how to do it,” Covic said.

Meanwhile Mladen Bosic, head of the Serb Democratic Party, blamed parties from the Bosniak-Croat Federation for not being able to come to an agreement.

“Parties from the Federation are fighting over every proposal, there is always someone who is against what the other suggested and now we're back to zero again,” Bosic said.

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