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News 12 Jan 16

Publish 2013 Census Data, EU Urges Bosnia

Officials in Brussels have urged the Bosnian government to publish the full results of the 2013 census after suggestions that the country could soon submit an application to join the EU.

Rodolfo Toe
BIRN
Sarajevo
The headquarters of the European Commission | Photo: Flickr

EU officials have told Bosnia and Herzegovina that it urgently needs to publish the final results of the census it conducted in 2013, after claims by local politicians that Sarajevo could soon apply for membership.

“The European Commission attaches crucial importance to the census not only because of its relevance in the context of the EU integration process but also as an instrument to perform economic and social planning,” European Commission spokesperson Maja Kocijancic told BIRN.

“The Commission deeply regrets that the final results of the census have not yet been disseminated and urges [Bosnia and Herzegovina] to complete this statistical operation with no further delay,” Kocijancic said.

In recent weeks, several prominent Bosnian politicians have claimed that the country’s Council of Ministers will deliver its application for EU membership soon.

“We're presenting our application for European membership in the coming months,” Bosnian Prime Minister Denis Zvizdic told local media last week.

Zvizdic said this would happen before the end of the Netherlands’ stint as the holder of the EU’s revolving presidency ends on June 30.

But the application could lack credibility if the Bosnian authorities have not published the results of the census, giving a genuine picture of the country’s current population.

The Bosnian authorities conducted their first census since independence in October 2013. After more the two years however, the results have yet not been published due to a methodological disagreement between the statistical agencies in the country’s two entities, Republika Srpska and the Federation.

The ethnic sensitivity of the headcount has led to an impasse meaning that so far the authorities have only been able to share some preliminary results showing the geographical distribution of the population.

Mirsada Adembegovic, the spokesperson of the Agency for Statistics of Bosnia and Herzegovina, told BIRN that progress was expected soon, allowing the full data to be published.

“A new session of the commission which is in charge of the publication of the result of the census will be organised at the end of January and we expect that the problems concerning the methodology will be resolved,” Adembegovic said.

“The law on the census clearly says that the final date for the publication of the results of the census is July 1, 2016,” she added.

In order to present a successful application for EU membership, the Bosnian Council of Ministers will also have to update its Stabilisation and Association Agreement with Brussels to take into account economic relations with neighbouring Croatia in light of Zagreb’s membership of the European club.

But the Bosnian government has so far refused to update the agreement, claiming that this would hurt the country’s agricultural production.

As a consequence, the EU on January 1 suspended its liberalisation deal with Bosnia and Herzegovina, reintroducing fees for Bosnian products sold on the European market.

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