As Bosnia’s political turmoil continues to distract local leaders from essential problems like poverty, school segregation, extremely high unemployment and numerous violations of minority rights EU is stepping up to pressure them to more and faster. Often when we speak about Bosnia’s political situation one of the key problems is inability among political leaders to create functional governments on all levels. But this time critics which comes from EU Commissioner for Enlargement Stefan Füle is focused on non-implementation of Sejdić-Finci ruling.
In his address to Council of Europe Commissioner Füle said that if Bosnian authorities don’t implement decision next year elections wouldn’t be recognized by EU. To remind everybody Dr. Jakob Finci and Mr. Dervo Sejdić are representative of Jew and Roma communities in Bosnia and Herzegovina who sued the state in front of Human Rights Court in Strasbourg based on vote and candidacy segregation.
Based on current Constitution minorities are not able to be nominated or elected for the Bosnian tripartite Presidency, nor the be elected on any other important position such as Speaker of the Parliament. Those position are exclusively reserved for Bosniaks, Serbs and Croats. Implementation of this ruling would require significant changes in Bosnian Constitution and few dozen laws, and that would be the first step into right direction of changing constitutional deadlock.
“A year before elections is not the ideal time for compromises, but Bosnia and Herzegovina does not have a choice. Secretary General Jagland made it clear that the next elections could not be seen as meeting European standards, if this issue was not solved. And I fully support him on this issue. Furthermore, non-implementation of the Sejdić-Finci ruling is keeping both the Stabilisation and Association Agreement as well as a credible EU membership application on hold. And only once the Stabilisation and Association Agreement enters into force will the EU be in a position to support Bosnia and Herzegovina in addressing the structural shortcomings of Dayton”, said Füle.
Füle and his EU Foreign Relations colleague Baroness Ashton issued last week new and reinforced political mandate to The Head of Delegation and EU Special Representative Sorensen received a reinforced political mandate during his visit in Brussels last week. Sorensen received according to Füle’s speech in CoE ”full support for intensified engagement with political leaders and government representatives in an effort to reach a solution”.
Füle and Ashton reinforced mandate is totally useless at this point because Sorensen and his counterpart High Representative in Bosnia Austrian diplomat, Valentin Inzko, are refusing to use them to force local leaders on agreement. They’re also refusing to use their powers to punish leaders who break the law or consistently obstructing much needed reforms. But if it’s true what Fule said in his speech on Thursday there’re changes that local leaders will start working, not because they want better to citizens but to protect their interests.
“I am also making it clear to Bosnia and Herzegovina’s representatives that two myths should be dispelled when it comes to implementing the Sejdić-Finci ruling. First, it is not true that EU Member States would eventually lower the bar for a credible membership application, if Bosnia and Herzegovina’s authorities continued to fail in their efforts to reach a shared solution. Second, it is equally not true that procrastinating on the Sejdić-Finci ruling implementation would lead to a situation which was more conducive to a solution after the elections – because we would not consider such elections up to the necessary standards. A solution is needed now. In this regard, the role of the Strasbourg-based institutions in assisting Bosnia and Herzegovina’s authorities is crucial – this includes you as the Assembly, Honourable President Mignon, and Secretary General Jagland”, said Füle.
Despite harsh tones coming from Füle locals leaders stayed silent on Thursday and almost nobody reacted on his threat of non-recognizing elections of 2014. They have about year or so to implement Sejdić-Finci ruling and prepare new laws much needed for election process but chances for that are equal an big zero. Bosnia continues to goes in opposite direction of what is proclaimed and that’s EU integrations and reforms, seems like 20 years was not enough to change minds of local leaders.