The Council of the European Union expressed its concern by the latest crisis in Bosnia and Herzegovina caused by the rhetoric and initiatives aimed at rolling back reforms, withdrawing from state institutions and questioning the country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, in its Tuesday's conclusions on enlargement and stabilisation and association process.
“The Council deeply regrets the prolonged political crisis in the country, which has held back further progress on reforms in 2021, and condemns the blockage of the State institutions. The Council urges all political leaders to refrain from and renounce provocative and divisive rhetoric and action, including questioning the sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity of the country,” one of the conclusions said adding that “rhetoric and initiatives aimed at rolling back reforms and withdrawing from State institutions are unacceptable and endanger the country’s alignment with the EU acquis and the political commitment to EU integration. All political leaders need to engage in dialogue to overcome the stalemate as a matter of priority.
In their opinion, Bosnia needs to undertake further constitutional and electoral reforms to ensure equality and non-discrimination of all citizens, notably by implementing the Sejdic-Finci case law of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR).
The Council underlined that no legislative or political step should be taken which would make the implementation of the Sejdic-Finci ruling and related ECtHR rulings more challenging or would further deepen divisions.
They also underlined the importance of the prevention of and fight against corruption and organised crime stressing the need for the authorities to work towards strengthening the rule of law.
“To this aim, the Council urges Bosnia and Herzegovina to swiftly adopt amendments to the Law on the High Judicial and Prosecutorial Council to introduce integrity measures in the judiciary. The Council also recalls the need for Bosnia and Herzegovina to urgently align its legislation on public procurement and on conflict of interest with European standards,” said the Council of the European Union.
On economic reforms, the Council took note that the country has made limited progress towards establishing a functioning market economy and in terms of its capacity to cope with the competitive pressure and market forces in the EU.
The Council then reiterated its unequivocal commitment to BiH’s EU perspective as a single, united and sovereign country. They called on all political actors in Bosnia and Herzegovina to overcome divisive rhetoric rooted in the past, to end the glorification of convicted war criminals as well as to actively promote reconciliation.
The Council noted a sharp decline in BiH’s alignment with the EU Common Foreign and Security Policy and urges the country to reverse this negative trend as a matter of priority.
“On the other hand, it welcomes Bosnia and Herzegovina's continued active participation in EU missions and operations under the Common Security and Defence Policy. The Council also welcomes the extension of the mandate of the EUFOR Althea, which continues to support the authorities in Bosnia and Herzegovina in maintaining a safe and secure environment for all citizens. The Council expresses its support to the role and the mandate of the High Representative and his Office towards fulfilling the 5+2 agenda,” concluded the council of the European Union.