Serbs in Herzegovina-Neretva Canton continue the struggle for their rights

Serbs in Herzegovina-Neretva Canton continue the struggle for their rights

Even more than two decades after τηε Dayton Peace Agreement was signed, there are many problems in organization and functionality of BiH and its entities. For example,  Bosniaks are filing complaints about education of their children in Republic of Srpska about school curriculum without national group of subjects. Also, they find disputable the status of city of Srebrenica and many other issues.

But Bosniaks are not keen to admit that on many Federation BiH cantons, Serb children also don’t have a national group of school subjects and that in many other cases Serb human rights are being violated. In fact, in some of them Serbs doesn’t exist as a constituent nation, although the Federation BiH Constitution precisely states that “Bosniaks, Croats and Serbs as constituent peoples, along with others, and citizens of the Federation BiH, shall equally govern the Federation BiH, as it is defined in Annex II of General Framework Agreement for Peace in BiH”. One of those cantons is the Herzegovina-Neretva Canton (HNC), where Serbs are not mentioned in its Constitution as constituent nation. The battle of Serbs for their rights given in Federation BiH supreme legal document is without results for decades. Their last attempt finished in a debacle because delegates in HNC Cantonal Assembly refused even to discuss this issue on the session.

On Sunday, the Coordination of Serb Associations in Mostar calls on the members of the Assembly to adopt an amendment to the cantonal constitution about this issue at their session scheduled for today.

“The fact that the HNC Assembly session was disrupted on September 27 due to the failure to even put the matter on the agenda does not give us hope that there will be enough sense and good will to vote in favour of the issue on Monday, but we emphasise once again that this is not an issue of any political party, rather the entire Serb people”, stress the Coordination of Serb Associations in Mostar.

The Serbs with permanent residence in this Canton also appeal to the Assembly members from both the ruling and opposition parties to rise above petty politics and not use this issue or the Serbs for their political disagreements.

“Statements by SDA, HDZ and SDP officials give an impression that they wish to turn the issue of Serbs being a constituent people into a mere pre-election farce, which is shameful to say the least. Some of the MPs could also be heard saying that when it comes to the constituent status of Serbs, amending the HNC Constitution would only be a technical matter and that Serbs enjoy all the rights, which is absolute not true. If it is just a technical matter, we wonder what the actual problem is”, asks the Coordination in a press release.

They recall that the ruling parties in the HNC constantly breach the Serbs’ rights in all areas, from employment, to education, to financing and other sectors, and point out that claims the Serbs are not under threat in the Canton are simply not true. They added that it is true that constituent status on paper does not mean a thing, but that Serbs in the Canton don’t have it either on paper or in reality.

“It is hypocritical to talk about actual constituent status and at the same time obstruct the formal one. We appeal to the political parties and deputies in the HNC to turn ethnic-based discrimination into positive discrimination and thus send a message to everyone in BiH that we in Herzegovina are willing to change things for the better, taking little steps at that”, said the Coordination of Serbs in Mostar.

Serbs are not a constituent nation in a total of four cantons in the Federation of BiH, even though back in 2000 the Constitutional Court of BiH adopted the Decision on the Constituent Status of Peoples and the High Representative imposed relevant amendments to the FBiH Constitution in 2000 as well. It must be mentioned that Federation BiH has ten cantons, which means that almost a half of this BiH entity violates Serb constitutional rights.