Round-up of the AFET meetings on Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatian MEPs in focus

Meeting of the AFET committee of the European Parliament was held on 30th January in Brussels, a day before the scheduled voting (31st January), discussing the report on Bosnia and Herzegovina for the year 2016.

Presenting the report and its amendments, a rapporteur of the EP for BiH, Dan Preda, restated the need for the reforms within Reform Agenda to be properly conducted and applied. Additionally, Preda stressed that the Parliament can’t help BiH properly if BH’s MPs don’t want to meet them, alluding to the failure of forming a Stabilisation and Association Parliamentary Committee by the BH’s parliamentary representatives. Rapporteur Preda said: “Our resolution welcomes the steps Bosnia and Herzegovina has recently taken on the EU path, and in particular, the EU membership application presented in February 2016. We are looking forward to the Commission’s opinion on the merits of this application and we want to encourage the authorities of Bosnia and Herzegovina to take this process very seriously and commit to it”. He also stressed that the country “needs to focus on reforms and avoid divisive topics that could delay Bosnia and Herzegovina’s advancement on the EU path”.

Chair of the Delegation for relations with Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Kosovo, S&D’s Tonino Picula started his presentation by stating that the only thing more complex than the situation in BiH itself are the views of external factors on how the relations in the country should be developed, adding that this discussion is the right time to ask ourselves:„what is the reality in BiH, today?“ In Picula’s opinion, the reasons for controversy in BiH are primarily those caused by internal politics because if it wasn’t so, Picula added, the commitments of BiH on the path toward European integration could be divided into the simple formulations such as easy – hard problems, or short term – mid-term goals. Considering all this, Picula continued,Parliament should welcome all agreements that are a product of internal consensus within the country, but that the equality of all the nations within the BiH should be addressed specifically.

MEP of ALDE group, Jozo Radoš, said that the reaction of the country to the new reforms is yet to happen and that there is uncertainty as to the functionality of the mechanism of coordination. Seeing all this there is a dose of unpredictability about the way the country is going to function in the future, Radoš stated. Concluding his exposition, Croatian MEP said that the fact that one part of the country is continually challenging the existence of the state makes things ever more complicated further reminding of the need for the EU to be ever-present in BiH and Western Balkans generally.

MEP Dubravka Šuica, a member of the EPP, welcomed and commended the report agreeing that the main problems within the BiH come from internal, political disagreements and that any consensus of those factors should be praised. Šuica called for equality of all three nations within BiH, with special stress on Croatian people, who don’t enjoy the rights that were given to them by the Dayton agreement, said the EPP’s MEP. Šuica concluded by saying that there should be no negligence of the Balkans in the Parliament rather that it should put on the top of the priority list.

The only MEP from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Željana Zovko, also anEPP member, reminded of the resolutions from the year 2014 and 2015 which mention the ‘federalisation’ principle in respect to the constitutive architecture of BiH.’25 years after the war in BiH we should look for practical solutions and not look for solutions that are not possible to implement in the country’, said Zovko, concluding her speech.

We remind the reader that the term ‘federalism’ is mentioned in the amendments 13, 74 and 75.

Towards the end of the meeting, representative of the European Commission stated that the term ‘equality of the constituent people’ has led to discrimination of other people(e.g. Sejdić – Fenci) and that there is a need to reduce the elements of ethnic nature and increase those of civic nature adding that Dayton agreement was good enough to end the war but it is not good enough for BiH to enter the EU.

The resolution on Bosnia and Herzegovina was adopted by 45 votes to 11 with 3 abstentions. The full House will vote on the resolution in Strasbourg in February.

M. Š.