news 13 Feb 13

EU Rules Out Imposing Solutions on Bosnia

EU chief in Bosnia says it's up to local politicians - not the international community - to find a way out of the current impasse over a key human rights ruling.

Ratka Babic
BIRN
Banja Luka

The head of the EU in Bosnia, Peter Sorensen, on Tuesday dismissed reports that the international community will impose constitutional solutions on Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Speaking in Banja Luka on February 12, he said that many potential solutions were already on the table concerning the 2009 Sejdic and Finci human rights ruling and it was up to local politicians to act.

A key condition for Bosnia to move forward in its EU integration process is implementation of the Strasbourg Court ruling, which told Bosnia to change its constitution to allow minorities to run for top posts now reserved for members of the three largest ethnic groups, Bosniaks [Muslims], Serbs and Croats.

“Putting a paper on the table is not the way to approach this. If it could have resolved the issue [that way], we would not have a problem today,” Sorensen said.

“We are facilitating a conversation with political actors, and ultimately the solution coming out of this is the political actors’ own solution,” he added.

Sorensen said the entire process boiled down to one thing – good will among domestic politicians to resolve the issue.

“I believe that BiH will be able to have its EU Stabilisation and Association Agreement enter into force, and in future our conversations will be about an application for EU membership, not about fulfilling the European Convention on Human Rights,” he continued.

Sorensen and his deputy, Renzo Davidi, met Igor Radojicic, head of the Republika Srpska assembly, who said after the meeting on Tuesday that there was readiness to address the issue in the mainly Serb entity.

“We are keen on having this decision implemented with minimal changes to the Constitution... with the main problem being the composition of the country’s [three-member] state presidency,” Radojicic said.

The State Presidency currently consists of one Bosniak and one Croat elected from the country's Federation entity and one Serb elected from the Republika Srpska.
 
Radojicic said that the ruling parties in the Serb entity, the Alliance of Independent Social Democrats, SNSD, and the Serbian Democratic Party, SDS, had specific proposals regarding the State Presidency, based around the idea of direct elections to the Presidency.

A meeting of the leaders of the six main parties in Bosnia to try to find common ground on the Sejdic-Finci Court ruling should be held in Sarajevo on February 16.

Radojicic said 2013 would be a key year for Bosnia and Herzegovina in the context of its EU integration, to try resolve the remaining European requirements, and he said the coming months should focus on concrete results.

“Unless we manage to find solutions to the remaining requirements in the next couple of months, we will lose momentum," he remarked, "and with general elections in Bosnia in 2014 and elections for the European Parliament, we could end up waiting till 2015,” he concluded.

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