Recently Bosnian parliament approved a new central government, ending 16 months of deadlock between Muslims, Croats and Serbs leaders that stalled reforms needed to retrieve countries bid to join EU and left economy floundering. The country had been paralyzed since an inclusive parliamentary election in October 2010 until rival political parties agreed in late December 2011 on the makeup and agenda of new cabinet. The new president of Ministerial council which is equivalent to Prime Minister position, Bosnian Croat, Vjekoslav Bevanda seen as a moderate, said he hoped Bosnia would make more progress towards EU accession. He also pointed out that main goal of his government will be to adopt a state budget and general fiscal framework for 2012-14. Both are conditions for Bosnia to gain access to much needed funds from IMF and the EU Commission, frozen until now because of the political impasse.
With current economy state in Bosnia and Herzegovina combined with Greece, Spain and Italy recent experiences with IMF and World Bank I’m not so optimist that Bosnia would have better chances to gain access to new funds. Damaging element to Bevanda’s hopes, maybe better say illusions, lays in a fact that Bosnian Parliament adopted budget for 2011 in February 2012 due to political lockdown. Unemployment is in high 40’s maybe even over 50% at the time and economy is in stagnation for better part of last 15 years. These elements combined with lost trust in Bosnian institutions by EU Commission and IMF are not comforting to the idea that new funds will be accessible anytime soon. That in particular means that if Bevanda doesn’t look into domestic financial and banking sector situation will go from bad to worse in galloping rise over next few months. In that case new wave of recession and another hit to those in need would be unstoppable. If situation develops in this direction Bosnia would become new Greece but the essential question is would EU come to save a Bosnia once more even if it’s not a member or candidate state? I don’t think so.
In his inaugural media scrums PM Bevanda said he hoped Bosnia would make more progress towards EU accession adding that country is only one step away from applying for EU membership. Even before he formed his office PM said that this would be EU year in Bosnia, but analysts and insiders are not so keen to follow PM’s words and enthusiasm regarding EU membership application process.
To make that final step towards EU membership Bosnia needs to conduct constitutional reforms, legal system adaptations in line with EU legal and human rights standards, and to implement EU Human Rights Court decision in Sejdic-Finci case. Constitutional reform is needed because current Constitution which is integral part of Dayton Peace Agreement (Dayton, Ohio 1995) is based on census of 1991 and doesn’t recognizes rights of ethnic, national or religious minorities to be elected in highest state offices.
PM Bevanda expects that new Constitution and all reforms will be negotiated and implemented in next four months, but no one who knows Bosnian political situation doesn’t believe that is fair and possible timeframe. Latest attempt in 2006 abruptly ended up in a moment when political opportunist and former PM Haris Silajdzic decided to crash it down because he’s political party was not strong enough to place itself as main Bosniak (Muslim) negotiator. In current political situation Bevanda would need to force all political leaders to come to the table and make final and decisive agreement, but main problem is that he’s not powerful enough and he’s not even leader of the party which placed him at PM position. Other problem is hidden in fact that you can’t make a quality and in a line with highest EU standards constitution in four months and implement all promised reforms in a same time.
On my Bosnian blog I said up to know Bosnia and Herzegovina was functioning without central government and PM, but from now will be lead by government and illusionist. Illusionist Mr. Bevanda who think that he can fix decade and a half of mistakes and bad political decisions in just four or five months. Usually when politicians are coming into the office with promises like this either their reign ends up in turmoil staged by their own people trough strikes and social appraisals or their own political parties will run over them and install new leader. I don’t think this way is particularly good way to save Bosnia from it’s destiny and more over I don’t think rushing over would make any difference if was not made in past fifteen or so years. So my advice to Bevanda and his team would be: slow down, do your job in professional and quality way, and finally bring peace and conciliation to country destroyed by wars, bad politics and wrong influences.