Croatian MEPs urge changes to Bosnia’s election law in European Parliament

NEWS 09.03.2022 11:03
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Source: FREDERICK FLORIN / AFP

The EU Enlargement Commissioner Oliver Varhelyi  on Tuesday "informed the European Parliament on the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina and called for agreement on Bosnia's election law, while Croatian MEPs urged the amendment of that legislation soon," Croatian state agency Hina said on Wednesday.

The developments in Bosnia and Herzegovina was one of the topics on the agenda of the European Parliament on Tuesday in Strasbourg, and during the discussion “MEPs agreed that the war in Ukraine had also made the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina more complicated,” Hina reported.

Last week, the EU increased its military presence in Bosnia and Herzegovina from 600 to 1,100 personnel by sending reserves from Austria, Bulgaria, Romania, and Slovakia to “prevent potential instability there following the Russian invasion of Ukraine.” Last Saturday, France announced training flights over Bosnia and Herzegovina in light of the deteriorating international security situation.

“Thirty years after the bloody breakup of Yugoslavia, with the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the war is back on European soil. Once again, we are witnessing extreme human suffering, with many lives lost and millions fleeing Ukraine,” Varhelyi told MEPs.

“The last weeks and the changing geopolitical constellations have brought the need for peace back on the top of our agenda. This also means that the stability and security of the Western Balkans have never been so important as they are today… A lot of hope and efforts have been put in the ongoing talks on the reforms of election law and the constitutional, but a solution is not yet there. It should be found urgently and without any further delay,” he added.

“Fair, free and inclusive elections must take place in October, as scheduled,” Varhelyi said.

He called on Bosnian Serb representatives to take steps “to de-escalate tensions, to avoid further rhetoric and to ensure the swift return to state institutions and ensure their full functioning.”

Croatian MEP Tonino Picula of the S&D group said that the so-called “outvoting” of one of the three peoples “is a direct abuse of the system”. MEP Zeljana Zovko (EPP) recalled that the city of Mostar was now an example of political example “after its citizens had not been able to elect their representatives for 12 years,” without clarifying.

“Let us make Bosnia and Herzegovina and its election law successful and give people a chance to exercise their voting rights,” she said. MEP Tomislav Sokol (EPP) said that the urgent amendment of the election law was “a precondition for the stability of Bosnia and Herzegovina.”

He elaborated that the matter of the protection of ethnic Croats in Bosnia and Herzegovina concerns the preservation of fundamental European values including the rule of law, and it also represented a key to stability of that part of Europe.

German Green MEP Romeo Franz said that Russian President Vladimir Putin’s aggression against Ukraine is an attack on Europe and the European values.

“Putin wants to push Bosnia and Herzegovina back to the past and his biggest ally is (Bosnian Serb leader) Milorad Dodik,” Franz said during the debate.

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