Foreign Minister: Bosnia elections under current system would bring nothing good

NEWS 21.02.2022 12:02
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Source: JOHANNA GERON / POOL / AFP

If elections in Bosnia and Herzegovina were held under the current system, they would not bring anything good but only deepen the crisis, Croatian Foreign Minister Gordan Grlic-Radman said in Brussels on Monday.

“If elections are held under these conditions, we warn that they would destabilise the state, that they won’t contribute to anything good, rather the crisis will continue and be even bigger,” he told the press before a meeting of EU foreign ministers at which the BiH situation will be one of the topics.

Grlic-Radman said it was necessary to make the other member states see how important it was for BiH’s stability, prosperity and functioning to change the election law so that it satisfied the three constituent peoples and others.

“We want to make a contribution in that direction,” he added.

Asked if the ministers would discuss the consequences of a possible lack of agreement on the electoral reform and sanctions against the Serb entity of Republika Srpska due to some secessionist moves, Grlic-Radman said, “There’s not much time for that. The focus is on the crisis on Europe’s eastern borders. We are warning that there should be no domino effect, that the crisis on the eastern borders should not affect the crisis in the Western Balkans.”

The main topic of the ministerial is the Ukraine crisis and the threat of a Russian invasion.

The integrity of Bosnia and Herzegovina cannot come into question. We must be very careful that Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Balkans don’t become the playground of actors outside the EU,” Austrian Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg said.

He added the announcements of Bosnian Serb leader Milorad Dodik and Republika Srpska about taking over state powers were extremely dangerous.

Asked whether the bigger problem now was the secessionist announcements from Republika Srpska or the electoral reform, Schallenberg said the Serb entity’s moves were more dangerous in the short term.

Withdrawing from the justice system, the army and the security forces is out of the question. We will think about what action to take. We stand ready to stop considerable financial resources and will continue like that if Republika Srpska does not support Bosnia and Herzegovina’s integrity, and then it will feel the consequences, he said.

The EU High Representative for foreign and security policy, Josep Borrell, pointed to the importance of the debate on BiH due to the rising nationalist and separatist rhetoric.

The foreign ministers will have to decide how to stop that dynamic in BiH and avert BiH’s break-up, he said, adding that this is a critical moment.

The EU would like to see the talks on the electoral reform concluded successfully with an agreement so that the elections have integrity and result in a functioning government, said Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney.

There will be no conclusions after the debate on BiH nor are any decisions expected.

Some member states advocate sanctions against Dodik and Republika Srpska while some, including, according to diplomatic sources, Croatia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Hungary and Greece, want the former to explain whether the sanctions would have the desired effect.

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