By Bedrana Kaletović
Last weekend, the heads of a half dozen major political parties from Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) met in the Italian town of Cadenabbia to discuss the country’s new constitution. The meeting was co-ordinated by the German foundation Konrad Adenauer Stiftung (KAS).
However, the leaders from the Social Democratic Party (SDP), Party of Democratic Action (SDA), Alliance of Independent Social Democrats (SNSD), Serbian Democratic Party (SDS), Croatian Democratic Union 1990 (HDZ1990) and Croatian Democratic Union of Bosnia and Herzegovina (HDZBiH) were again unable to resolve the political impasse.
Although the meeting’s agenda was the constitution, observers hoped it would serve as a mechanism to encourage discussion among party leaders on forming a government.
“We don’t want to speculate about the result of this assembly because that would mean putting unnecessary pressure on the BiH politicians,” Sabina Wölkner, director of KAS in BiH, told SETimes before the meeting.
KAS organisers said that the formation of a new government was never the meeting’s focus.
“The assembly was not organised for the purpose of facilitating dialogue between the leaders of BiH,” said KAS representative Ivana Maric.
In addition to the six BiH parties, German Bundestag representatives, European Parliament members and presiding representatives of the European Commission were also invited, as were legal experts from the European Court for Human Rights, the European Council and the Council of Europe Venetian Commission.
Doris Pack (Bundestag), Peter Sorensen (European Parliament), Emina Bozkurt (European Parliament), Miroslav Lajcak and Christian Schwartz-Schilling (former high representatives for BiH) were among the invitees.
The meeting was marred by Republika Srpska (RS) President Milorad Dodik’s leaving two days early. Although he justified his departure by saying he had to attend to other obligations, meeting participants said he had other visions for BiH than those being discussed.
“In the future, the BiH Constitution should contain a mechanism to allow participants to part peacefully and which would include a procedure to allow people to express their opinions about what they want to see accomplished,” said Dodik.
“His statement about a peaceful parting [mechanism] … clearly shows that he doesn’t support the idea of Bosnia and Herzegovina,” said Michael Brand, a representative of the Christian Democratic Union of Germany.
Leader of RS opposition Party of Democratic Progress Mladen Ivanic told SETimes that he was pessimistic about reaching any kind of agreement.
“Since the formation of the [BiH] Constitution in Dayton, our country has done much, but is still on its way to maturity. Many countries like us, such as Belgium, have been without a government for a long time and that is not all that bad,” Bakir Izetbegovic, Bosniak member of BiH’s tripartite presidency, told SETimes.
That leaves citizens once again disappointed. “This political circus has embarrassed us in Italy,” Tuzla’s Sabina Gogic lamented.
Maja Nikolic was of a similar opinion. “The meeting in Italy is yet another luxury afforded to BiH politicians while the citizens are suffering the consequences of their unproductive behaviour.”
“[Our politicians] showed foreigners their unwillingness to lead a country, as well as their incompetency to fulfil that which they had promised during their campaigns,” Gorazde resident Kasim Hrnjic said.
Tanja Fajon, a member of the European Parliament from Slovenia, has expressed concern that BiH could stagnate behind other Balkans countries because of the delay in reforms, especially in December when European leaders discuss the future of the EU expansion.
“I expect that the European summit on December 9th will point out the positive movement in the region, with the exception of BiH, which is behind due to very slow progress in the process of the reforms towards EU integration,” said Fajon.
The lack of progress in the Western Balkan countries is most apparent in BiH, US State Department Assistant Secretary of European and Eurasian Affairs Philip Gordon said. He told VOA that there is a dangerous rise in nationalistic rhetoric and a negation of the governmental institutions of the Dayton Agreement.
“In addition to that,” he noted, “it should be said that the reforms process has completely been stopped. Political leaders of BiH are more than willing to put their personal political interests before the interests of the people whom they are supposed to represent.”