The Dayton Peace Agreement (DPA) was not designed as a static framework that would keep Bosnia and Herzegovina the same as it was in 1995 forever and all the reforms that have been implemented since it was signed were part of the country’s path towards EU membership, BiH Presidency member, Sefik Dzaferovic, said in his address before the European Parliament's Committee on Foreign Affairs (AFET) on Tuesday.
Dzaferovic, who is the Bosniak member of the country’s tripartite Presidency, said that the positive influence of the EU on the processes in BiH is very important.
“BiH has condemned Russia's aggression against Ukraine and we are aware of Russia's influence in BiH and the Western Balkans,” Dzaferovic said.
He argued that BiH is at a turning point and noted that the political crisis in the country has been going on for more than half a year and was caused by the moves of political representatives from BiH’s semi-autonomous Republika Srpska (RS) entity, “first by blocking the institutions and then by trying to take over state competencies unilaterally.”
Dzaferovic warned that authorities in the RS entity, led by his Bosnian Serb colleague in the Presidency, Milorad Dodik, are openly threatening the Dayton Peace Accords.
“All relevant international actors have stated in their reports and statements that these moves are secessionist,” he said.
“The Dayton Peace Agreement was not designed that way, it is not a static framework with the idea of keeping BiH in the same state it was in 1995 forever. The Dayton Peace Agreement is designed as a dynamic framework that will ensure the reconstruction and development of the destroyed BiH and its institutions,” he said, arguing that an additional provision on the establishment of additional state competencies has been included in the text of the agreement, which the RS authorities are persistently ignoring.
State institutions that were established after the Dayton Agreement was signed, such as the Armed Forces, the Intelligence Service and others, were established based on that provision of the agreement, he explained.
“They were established through laws in the BiH Parliament which everyone voted for, including Mr. Dodik's party. All the reforms that have been established, which Dodik now disputes, have been created as part of BiH's European path,” he argued, stressing that the increased presence of EUFOR troops is very important due to the crisis in the BiH government, the threat of undermining reforms, the threat of secession and the danger it represents to peace.
Dzaferovic also spoke about electoral reform in BiH, arguing that Bosnian Croats are in no way discriminated against and that they have considerable power in BiH institutions.
“Judgments of international courts have confirmed that the Dayton Agreement is a dynamic framework. We have heard many times the false statements that the Croat people in BiH are endangered,” he said, arguing that the European Court of Human Rights has ruled that the rights of the Roma, Jews, Bosniaks, Serbs, Albanians and others are endangered in BiH, but that there is no such international ruling regarding Croats in the country.
Dzaferovic, a member of the Bosniak ethnic Party of Democratic Action (SDA), argued that the party he comes from has twice as many votes as the Croat Democratic Union in BiH (HDZ BiH), led by Dragan Covic.
However, “Mr. Covic's party has more ministers (in the government) than the party I come from,” he said.
“No law can be adopted without their approval,” Dzaferovic stressed.