ISSN 2330-717X

Bosnia: EU Envoy Addresses Controversial Vote

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By Eldin Hadzovic

On the second day of his visit to Bosnia, EU envoy Miroslav Lajcak will meet Serb officials and address a controversial referendum on cooperation with the state court.

Lajcak, an envoy of EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, spoke with Croat and Bosniak leaders on Thursday and urged the rapid formation of a state government.

He met with the Bosniak member of the state presidency, Bakir Izetbegovic, the High Representative Valentin Inzko, and the ambassadors of the Peace Implementation Council, who guide Bosnia’s post-war development.

At Thursday’s press conference in Sarajevo, Lajcak said that the EU urges Bosnia and Herzegovina to rapidly form a functioning government at the state level, where a government has still not been formed more than six months after general elections were held.

Bosnia and Herzegovina
Bosnia and Herzegovina

Lajcak, who previously served as the High Representative in Bosnia and Herzegovina, also spoke with leaders of political parties, including the president of the Social Democratic Party, SDP, Zlatko Lagumdzija.

Today Lajcak will meet with the leaders of major parties from the Republika Srpska, RS, the predominantly Serb entity in Bosnia.

According to official announcements, one of the topics will on the table will be the announced referendum on the State Court and the Prosecutor’s Office, which was passed in the RS National Assembly earlier this month.

The Office of the High Representative in Bosnia, the main international official in the country, earlier stated that the international community can’t and won’t ignore the moves of Republika Srpska to hold the referendum, and warned that he may block the decision on the vote.

In an interview with The Guardian, Inzko indicated that the international community was heading for a showdown with RS President Milorad Dodik and that at some point in the coming weeks he would invoke his official powers to try to stop the vote.

“I hope [Lajcak] can talk them out of doing this. Otherwise I will have to act. The [Bosnian Serb] law would be annulled. The deadline can’t be very long, 10 days to two weeks maximum,” Inzko told The Guardian.

At the press conference in Sarajevo, Lajcak stressed that the decision of RS National Assembly and the implementation of the referendum is a step in a bad direction.

“That doesn’t solve any issue in Bosnia, but only deepens them. This way Bosnia moves away from the EU, instead of towards it,” Lajcak said.

As Lajcak met with officials in Sarajevo on Thursday, the president of Republika Srpska, Milorad Dodik, who proposed the controversial referendum, attended a roundtable debate in Belgrade on the planned vote in the RS.

In an interview before the roundtable, Dodik said that Serbia “should not interfere with a decision-making process in Bosnia-Herzegovina“ but added that there were certain situations in which Serbia’s involvement in solving political crises in Bosnia was necessary.

“Serbia should get involved if the problem regarding the high representative escalates and, as a Dayton Accords guarantor, stand up against the imposition of the will of the High Representative,“ the RS president stated, stressing that he would not abandon the planned referendum.

Balkan Insight

The Balkan Insight (fornerkt the Balkin Investigative Reporting Network, BIRN) is a close group of editors and trainers that enables journalists in the region to produce in-depth analytical and investigative journalism on complex political, economic and social themes. BIRN emerged from the Balkan programme of the Institute for War & Peace Reporting, IWPR, in 2005. The original IWPR Balkans team was mandated to localise that programme and make it sustainable, in light of changing realities in the region and the maturity of the IWPR intervention. Since then, its work in publishing, media training and public debate activities has become synonymous with quality, reliability and impartiality. A fully-independent and local network, it is now developing as an efficient and self-sustainable regional institution to enhance the capacity for journalism that pushes for public debate on European-oriented political and economic reform.

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