“Dayton II not needed,” says Bosnia’s High Representative Schmidt

NEWS 17.08.2022 10:55
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Source: ELVIS BARUKCIC / AFP, Ilustracija

The number of Croats in BiH is much smaller than members of other communities, but according to the Dayton Agreement, which is the basis of my work, this community also has the right to political responsibility and representation. That's why we have no choice but to take that slightly uncomfortable step or take the uncomfortable path to distinguish expectations from reality. To distinguish claims from reality and to simply go down the agreement road, High Representative Christian Schmidt said in an interview with Vecernji list BiH daily, talking about the steps he could take regarding the electoral reform in the country.

Answering questions about the expiration of the six-week period he left to BiH politicians to reach an agreement, Schmidt said that this deadline should not be taken strictly because it is a “pure political measure” that something must be done.

“They accused me of only dealing with the “Ljubic” case. Of course, other judgments must be implemented. But I think that it must be done by the joint power of politically responsible persons here. We will help, where we can. When it comes to pressure, in BiH, pressure comes from all sides, and people, peoples tell me”, Schmidt said adding:

“I tell them that I will continue to do so and I thank them for their trust. It can’t be said that I had succumbed to pressure and given in. But I will not be part of the election campaign. The local politicians have all sinned on that issue. I’m a little disappointed that the topics of discussion are being reduced. I haven’t heard yet anyone, for example, say – let’s make an agreement in the FBiH to get things started. In those six weeks, I want to bring them there precisely to get an answer to this question. And not leave after only one such meeting and says – I won or lost. This is absolutely not the case,” Schmidt said.

According to him, it is important that the Dayton Agreement remains because it is still the foundation for Bosnia and Herzegovina. He warned that not all provisions of the Dayton Agreement, such as Annex VII, have been fulfilled.

“I don’t think we need Dayton II. Rather, I think that we need changes to the Constitution from the people. For a number of years, the European Union has had a hard time accepting that BiH is not like other countries. Of course, I remember very well those questions when Croatia or Slovenia were admitted to the EU. In Slovenia, the question of the protection of minorities was raised, but they didn’t have the problems that they have in BiH, which are constantly being raised. This situation, as it is in BiH, is simply unknown to the EU. When I returned home after the referendum in Bosnia in 1992 and when there was a blockade organized by the Serbs, I had a conversation with Otto von Habsburg. At that time, we talked about the fact that here in BiH it’s not about the majority and the minority, but that we have three communities, three constituent peoples in the country, and that this is an issue that is much more complex than when you have a minority and a majority or the protection of minority groups. That’s why no conference will help us, neither in Brijuni nor in Dayton. I think we have to finish the job here with the help of the European spirit. And that doesn’t mean I won’t use my powers. By the time we get there, I will certainly use them,” said the High Representative.

The High Representative’s so-called Bonn Powers give him the ability to impose and amend laws as well as to dismiss or sanction local politicians he perceives to be breaking the Constitution and the Dayton Peace Agreement containing the Constitution that ended the 1992-1995 war in BiH.

In an interview with “Vecernje list”, he also commented on the correspondence with the President of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina (FBiH) entity, Marinko Cavar, regarding the appointment of judges of the FBiH Constitutional Court.

“Mr Cavara should now be allowed to do his job. However, I didn’t see him doing it constructively. In the coming weeks, we will be able to talk to each other. Now I don’t care if heads fly. Actually, I want the heads to start working. That’s what they are paid for, not to create blockades. Everyone’s got a chance. Mr Cavara also has it,” Christian Schmidt told the daily.

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