Press Statement: Report on Bosnia-Herzegovina

Today the Committee on Foreign Affairs approved the report on Bosnia-Herzegovina by a large majority with 44 votes in favour, 8 votes against and 5 abstentions.

Bosnia and Herzegovina has been in its deepest political crisis since the end of the Yugoslav war. The Serbian-Bosnian entity Republika Srpska (RS) led by Milorad Dodik is boycotting the state institutions of Bosnia and Herzegovina in a bid to divide the country. Even plans for their own army and their own tax system are presented again and again. The ongoing political crisis has prompted the EU to freeze the disbursement of funds to the Republic of Srpska.

Bosnia-Herzegovina must have prospects for EU membership, otherwise there is a risk that Russia will pursue its policy of destabilizing the EU, because Moscow maintains close ties not only with the Serbian Republic of Srpska, but also with Serbia. Bosnia-Herzegovina can only achieve EU candidate status if it makes progress in the fight against corruption, ethnic nationalism, independence of the judiciary, among other things.

As shadow rapporteur, it was important to me to push through the following points with my team:

The October 2nd elections must take place. They must be free and fair. What is needed is a reform of the constitution and the electoral law that grants all citizens the same rights regardless of their nationality, even if this is not a prerequisite for the election. It must therefore be possible to be elected to the office of the three-man presidency of Bosnia-Herzegovina without associating oneself with the group of Serbs, Croats or Bosniaks. The corresponding judgment of the European Court of Human Rights must finally be implemented.

Bosnia-Herzegovina must finally initiate reforms for the social rights of workers, the fight against poverty and the expansion of the welfare state.

Rights of minorities such as the Roma and the LGBTI community must be protected. Measures for gender equality and combating violence against women must also be implemented. Civil society and democratic forces must also be strengthened.

We were successful in enshrining the call for more investment in education.

Finally, the humanitarian crisis on the borders of Bosnia-Herzegovina was made clear. Refugees and migrants must be given decent housing. They must be treated under international law. The illegal push backs of people fleeing, which take place at the borders, are mentioned.

Surely more would have been desirable. But in view of the majorities, the report is a success. The report shows a way out of Bosnia-Herzegovina’s deep political crisis. This is not only in the interests of the Bosnian people, but also of a stable and peaceful EU.

The report is expected to be finalized in July in the plenary week of Parliament in Strasbourg.