A new attempt to end a nearly 12-month-long political stalemate in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) collapsed on Monday (September 26th), as the heads of the country’s six main parties again failed to reach a compromise on a new state-level government.
Mladen Bosic, the leader of the Serb Democratic Party (SDS), who chaired the talks in Brcko, voiced pessimism that a breakthrough could be achieved soon.
“Unfortunately today we did not reach an agreement on a new council of ministers,” he said after the meeting, the third to be held this month. “I don’t see a way out of this situation at the moment and I’m aware that we are plunging into a deeper political crisis.”
The other five parties participating in the talks were the Alliance of Independent Social Democrats (SNDS), the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ), HDZ 90, the Party of Democratic Action (SDA) and the Social Democratic Party of Croatia (SDP).
The latest general elections in BiH took place on October 3rd 2010. While the leaders of the six parties have since been able to agree on some important questions, their failure to hammer out a compromise on a new central government have left the Balkan nation in a political stalemate.
Under the Dayton Peace Accord, which ended the 1992-1995 conflict in BiH, the country was divided into two semi-autonomous entities — the Federation of BiH (FBiH), dominated by Bosniaks and Croats, and the Serb-controlled Republika Srpska (RS). Each has its own government, president and parliament. In addition, the Balkan nation has a tripartite presidency, made up of representatives of each of the three main ethnic communities, as well as a state-level parliament and government, sitting in Sarajevo.
The talks on the creation of a new central government, which is critical for the proper functioning of the state, have been mired by infighting over the distribution of nine ministerial portfolios, particularly the foreign ministry one, as well as the post of prime minister.
In the wake of last year’s elections, two informal political blocks have emerged. One includes Bosic’s SDS, RS President Milorad Dodik’s SNSD and the Bosnian Croat parties, HDZ and HDZ 90, led by Dragan Covic and Bozo Ljubic, respectively. The other camp comprises Sulejman Tihic’s SDA and Zlatko Lagumdzija’s SDP.
Following Monday’s talks, when the party leaders discussed different options for the configuration of the new central government, Bosic said that he and Dodik had offered some concessions to the SDP and the SDA, but that it proved insufficient to forge a deal.
The AFP quoted him as noting that he hoped the collapse of the latest effort to achieve a compromise did not mean “the end of the story”, and warning that if he was wrong, “then we have a very dangerous situation”.
Aside from making the work of other central institutions more difficult, the lack of a state-level government has further stalled the implementation of reforms required by the EU, which the country hopes to join one day.