BiH: EU Delegation to BiH urged on reforms

BiH: EU Delegation to BiH urged on reforms

The EU Delegation to BiH has urged the authorities on Tuesday to implement the necessary constitutional and electoral reforms during this non-election year and to ensure non-discrimination of citizens.

“Such a reform process is needed to ensure equality and non-discrimination of all citizens in BiH by fully implementing Sejdic-Finci ECtHR case law as well as also to eliminate electoral deficiencies by implementing OSCE/ODIHR and Council of Europe GRECO recommendations and the relevant opinions of the Venice Commission,” the Delegation said.

They noted that the reform process must be locally owned, transparent and inclusive, with the involvement of institutions – through the Inter-Agency Working Group.

The Delegation added that role of the EU and their international partners are to provide technical and expert support to this process.

“In that sense, together with our international partners, we have regular meetings with all political actors to encourage them to find solutions based on the principles of dialogue, cooperation and compromise. Regarding the 2022 General Elections, our expectations are that they need to be conducted in accordance with the improved constitutional and electoral framework.“

Dervo Sejdić, a Roma and Jakob Finci, a Jew, have sued BiH because the Constitution does not allow them to run for president or member of the upper house of the parliament.

That is because according to the 1995 Dayton Peace Agreement, the country’s presidency consists of representatives of BiH’s three constituent peoples – the Bosniaks, the Serbs and the Croats. Its House of Peoples is also filled with members of only those groups.

That violates the rights of the country’s minorities and in 2009 the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg ordered the country to remove this discrimination from its constitution.

Since then, nothing has been done to implement the ruling, which not only concerns minorities but also members of constitutive peoples who live in areas of the country dominated by one of the other two constituent peoples.

Bosniaks and Croats living in the Republika Srpska cannot run for president or upper house lawmaker either and neither can Serbs from the Federation BiH, which is the other half of the country where most of the other two constituent groups live.

The implementation of the rulings by the international court is among the 14 key priorities the European Commission defined in its Opinion on BiH’s application for EU candidate status.