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Members of parliament differ on the gravity of the referendum for BiH’s path to EU

BRUSSELS / MOSTAR - In press release of Croatian EPP Member of European Parliament, Ms. Dubravka Šuica, and in a separate exclusive statement for our portal from Slovenian S&D MEP Ms. Tanja Fajon, both of MEPs demonstrated a somewhat different attitude on the possible condemnation of the referendum in Republika Srpska, which was held on 25 September 2016.

Plurality of opinions in the European Parliament this time took place on the yearly resolution on Bosnia and Herzegovina. As planned, annual report of the European Commission on B&H’s progress will be published on 9th of November, and Parliament will, by the end of the same month, give its opinion, which is a standard procedure for all countries within the process of accession in the European Union.

Although both MEPs agree that a separate resolution, specifically for the case of the referendum, is not an option, the possibility of strong warning statement to institutions in Republika Srpska as well as to its president Dodik, in a regular, yearly report on Bosnia and Herzegovina could also cause different attitudes within the Parliament. EPP and S&D members seem to be voicing different statements on Bosnia and Herzegovina as the day of yearly report comes closer.

Vice-Chair of Delegation for relations with Bosnia and Herzegovina, Dubravka Šuica, said that they will find a way on how to warn Dodik on his harmful behaviour and that the referendum on establishing the Day of Republika Srpska will receive condemnation within a regular report on BiH’s progress because destabilization of BiH suits nobody, especially considering the fact that BiH is determined to a European future.

Šuica restated that the members of the Parliament can’t be passive about the referendum in Republika Srpska and expressed her belief that the new resolution on B&H will have to consist of a condemnation of such actions.

„I believe that this referendum was unnecessary and unconstitutional and that the negative rhetoric benefits no one. Referendum organized by Republika Srpska has been just one of indicators of unresolved relations“, pointed out Šuica, stressing that the referendum, among other things, served to „reheat“ tensions close to the elections.

Additionally, MEP Šuica said that the Republic of Croatia as a full-time member of European Union can’t and will not observe quietly the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina in which Croats do not have an equal position, and that she will put maximum effort to make sure Croats are a constitutive people adding that the same should be a condition for accession of BiH in the EU.

In a separate statement for our portal, MEP Tanja Fajon, from the Parliaments group S&D, also pointed out that a separate resolution concerning just the referendum is not an option as it would serve to be a dangerous precedent for the future, to have a resolution for every single act in BiH.

Reflecting on the initiative to warn Dodik and institutions of Republika Srpska, Ms. Fajon continued:„No matter whose initiative it was, it did not equal the position of the European Parliament as a whole and I am glad that this is the case. Moreover, this is not the only decision of the Constitutional Court of BiH that was not respected, which unfortunately speaks for the poor state of the rule of law in BiH, but we cannot adopt a resolution for each decision which was.“, stated Fajon adding that „the European Parliament should not be utilized as a polygon for exercising domestic, national or particular interests or pushing some hidden agendas. We are here to help BiH on its bumpy road to the European Union, trying to make situation there better, not worse by giving additional attention to initiatives such as this referendum.“

Concluding this, it is likely that yearly report on Bosnia and Herzegovina will consist of a general statement at least, reprimanding all decisions and acts that are not in accordance with the Constitution of Bosnia and Herzegovina. However, it will be interesting to analyze the vigor of narratives concerning latest events in Bosnia and Herzegovina within the institutions of the EU, and political groups of the European Parliament, as they will be a clear indication of how united will the EU present itself in relation to on going political issues in BiH.

A referendum on the National Day of Republika Srpska, called the “Day of Republika Srpska” was held on 25 September 2016. The Constitutional Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina had on 26 November 2015 ruled against the constitutionality of the holiday, deeming it discriminatory against non-Serbs in the entity. The Day of RS falls on 9 January, which is both an Orthodox feast day and the date when the Bosnian Serb republic was declared in 1992. The result was 99.8% in favour of keeping the date.

Marko Šilić, European Western Balkans Corespondent 

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