European Western Balkans

MEPs write to EU officials, express concern over Union’s role in BiH

EP building in Brussels; Photo: European Parliament

BRUSSELS – A group of European Parliament members wrote to European Neighbourhood and Enlargement Commissioner Olivér Várhelyi and High Representative Josep Borrell, expressing concern over the developments in Bosnia and Herzegovina and European Union’s role on the ground, N1 reported.

The MEPs said they strongly support the idea of Bosnia and Herzegovina making a step forward on its European path and the country fulfilling the key priorities towards the EU candidate status.

The letter was signed by MEPs Tineke Strik, Tanja Fajon, Klemen Groselj, Dietman Koster, Ilhan Kyuchyuk, and Thomas Waitz.

However, they expressed concern over the EU’s role in the country, more specifically the talks on electoral reform mediated by the EU.

“We have observed that EU facilitated negotiations and talks focus on a very limited number of political actors, mainly from two political parties which both intent to represent two of the three constituent peoples of Bosnia and Herzegovina. This is an extremely exclusive approach, which we strongly criticise, since it presents a risk for the political stability of the country and its future,” the MEPs representing the Greens and the Social-Democrats wrote in the letter.

They said the EU failed to launch an “inclusive and transparent dialogue” with the meaningful participation of all political parties and civil society representatives.

“With continuation of this practice, we risk not only BiH’s stability, but also the credibility of the EU as a mediator and as an actor in the region,” the MEPS said.

In reference to the 14 key priorities the European Commission set before BiH as an answer to the country’s membership application, the authors of the letter also expressed concern that a strong focus on electoral reform only “goes far beyond the mandate covered by the 14 key priorities and is even in contradiction with some of them.”

They recalled that the recommendations of the Venice Commission and the OSCE/ODIHR on this matter actually focus on political party financing and transparency, and only randomly on adjusting the legal framework.

“In our view, one of the most important key priorities relating to elections are constitutional reforms necessary to implement the Sejdic-Finci, Zornic, Pilav and Slaku rulings of the European Court of Human Rights. Therefore, it would only be logical to first change primary law and bring the constitution in line with the ECHR rulings before aligning and changing secondary law, such an election law,” the MEPs said, stressing that non-discrimination and minorities rights are “at core values on which our common European project was founded.”

“We expect the EU to take a leading and active role in facilitating and supporting the implementation of the 14 key priorities, offering the country a clear path towards the prospect of achieving candidate status. In our view, this entails defining a roadmap, outlining a clear order in which the Commission expects the 14 key priorities to be implemented. In this context the EU special representative should facilitate a fully inclusive and open dialogue, involving all actors in the process and going beyond the divisions along ethnic lines,” they said.


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