U.S. Special Representative for the Western Balkans, Matthew Palmer, U.S. Ambassador Eric Nelson, EU Head of Delegation to Bosnia Johann Sattler, High Representative Valentin Inzko, OSCE Mission to Bosnia Ambassador Kathleen Kavalec, and UK Chargé d’Affaires Ruth Wiseman met with Bosniak and Croat leaders, Bakir Izetbegovic and Dragan Covic on Wednesday to discuss the pressing need for elections in southern Bosnian city of Mostar, US Embassy said.
The Embassy said that all interlocutors agreed that Mostar citizens have been deprived of their right to vote for too long and that urgent action is necessary to ensure that citizens of the city can vote in the 2020 municipal elections.
"The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) made clear in its ruling on Mostar elections that the responsibility to resolve this impasse falls on the parliament,” US Embassy said.
The Embassy said that as two of the parties with significant representation in parliament and with a strong base in Mostar, Izetbegovic's Democratic Action Party (SDA) and Covic's Croat Democratic Party (HDZ BiH) “have a particularly important role to play in finding a politically acceptable solution that can be written into legislation before the 2020 elections are called in May.”
“The representatives of the International Community in this meeting expressed their readiness to support locally-led initiatives to find such a compromise solution that would restore the right of Mostar citizens to vote, address violations established by the ECtHR and BiH Constitutional Court rulings, and maintain Mostar as a unified, multi-ethnic city,” the statement from the US Embassy concluded.
The last local election in Mostar was held in 2008. Two years later, the Constitutional Court acted upon a motion by Croat representatives in the state Parliament, concluding that parts of the state Election Law referring to Mostar are unconstitutional.
Mostar remains divided among two main right-wing parties - the Croat Democratic Union (HDZ BiH) and the Bosniak Party for Democratic Action (SDA) - and the two never managed to reach an agreement on how to solve this problem.