The international community will support any changes to Bosnia’s Election Law that include the implementation of both a 2016 Constitutional Court ruling and earlier rulings by European courts, EU Special Representative Lars-Gunnar Wigemark told Bosnian Croat leader Dragan Covic on Wednesday in Mostar.
Covic discussed the Election Law issue on the same day with the EU Representative, Russian Ambassador Petar Ivantsov, and Croatian Ambassador to Bosnia Ivan Del Vechio.
Covic, the leader of the Croat Democratic Union (HDZ) and the current Bosnian Croat member of the country’s tripartite presidency until the October 7 election results are implemented, maintained that most of Bosnia’s Croats had voted for him but that the Bosniaks were so numerically dominant in the part of the country Croats and Bosniaks share, that they elected their own and the Croat members of the tripartite Presidency.
According to him and his political allies, the newly elected Croat Presidency member, Zeljko Komsic, cannot represent Bosnian Croats.
Bosnia is composed of two semi-autonomous entities – one with a Serb ethnic majority, Republika Srpska (RS), and the other shared mostly by Bosniaks and Croats, the Federation (FBiH).
The state-level Presidency is composed of three members, each representing one of the country’s three ethnic majorities. The Serb member is elected from the RS, and the Bosniak and Croat members are elected from the FBiH.
However, since there are many more Bosniaks than Croats in the Federation, Bosnian Croat representatives, particularly those from the HDZ, have been complaining that Bosniaks are able to elect the Bosnian Croat Presidency member. They said that this has already happened twice before and that it happened again in the General Election on October 7, with the election of Komsic, the leader of the Democratic Front (DF).
In 2016, a Bosnian Croat politician won a lawsuit at the country’s Constitutional Court which ruled that the Constitution, which is part of the peace agreement that ended the 1992-95 war, guarantees all the three constituent groups the right to elect their own representatives.
This ruling contradicts an earlier ruling handed down by the European Court of Human Rights which says that everybody should be able to be elected at any post and everybody should be able to vote for everybody, regardless of ethnic background.
While neighboring Croatia is fully backing Covic’s idea on how the Election Law should be changed, the EU insists the Law should also accommodate the ruling of the human rights court from Strasbourg.
Croatia’s Ambassador to Bosnia, Del Vechio, emphasized the Croatian position again during the Mostar meeting and repeated Covic’s claim that the new government cannot be formed before the Law is changed.
Russia’s Ambassador, Ivantsov, also supported the concept of the constituent position of the three ethnic groups in Bosnia as this was the basis of the 1992 Dayton Peace Agreement.