The “malicious” reactions to a Declaration of the long-term goals of Bosnia’s main Bosniak party which are coming from Serbia and Bosnia’s Serb-majority part are surprising, one of the Vice-Presidents of the Party for Democratic Action (SDA), Melika Mahmutbegovic, told N1 on Tuesday, arguing that her party’s stance on how the country should be set up has been well known before.
“I absolutely don’t see a reason for such a reaction because the Programme Declaration which was adopted at the Congress and reform of the Constitution stated in it is identical to the one adopted in 2009 and 2015,” she said.
Bosnia is according its Constitution, which is part of the 1995 Dayton Peace Agreement, composed of two semi-autonomous regions - the Serb-majority Republika Srpska (RS) and the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina (FBiH), mostly shared between Bosniaks and Croats. The entities are linked into a state by common institutions.
The state-level government is set up according to a power-sharing system between three majority ethnic groups, or ‘constituent peoples’ - Bosniaks, Croats and Serbs.
The proposed SDA declaration advocates for, among other things, a ‘Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina’, the affirmation of a ‘Bosnian language’ as the ‘common identity of all of Bosnia’s citizens’, a reform of the police force and setting up a supreme court.
The party adopted its Declaration on Saturday, and it immediately drew reactions from Bosnian Serb leader Milorad Dodik.
“This just represents one phase of what they (Bosniaks) want to do in the end, but there is no Bosnia and Herzegovina without Republika Srpska. Surely nobody is crazy, naive or dumb enough to think that someone could dissolve Republika Srpska,” Dodik said, adding that Bosniaks want the state set up “on their own terms” and that Serbs “will not endure political torture.”
According to Serbia’s President, Aleksandar Vucic, changing the constitutional setup in Bosnia would produce “big problems.”
But Mahmutbegovic asked why such “baseless and malicious” reactions are coming at this moment?
The stance of the SDA is “transparent, public, and has been present for decades,” she said.
“We want a functional, lawfull, civic EU member state where each citizen will have the same rights in every part of Bosnia and Herzegovina,” she said, adding that the party clearly stated that “any constitutional reform or changes can only come as a result of an agreement between all three peoples.”