EC to organisers of ‘World for BiH’ protest: Bosnia belongs in the EU

NEWS 29.01.2022 14:06
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Source: N1

There is no place for minimisation and denial of war crimes and genocide, nor for the glorification of war criminals in the European Union, the European Commission said in its response a letter the organisers of a protest over the political situation in Bosnia which took place in Brussels on January 10th.

The letter to the Organization Committee of the protests: ‘the World for Bosnia and Herzegovina’, specifically to Emir Ramic, director of the Institute For Research of Genocide Canada, and Hamdija Draganovic, a member of the Platform of BiH's Steering Board, is signed by the head of the unit for BiH and Kosovo within the Directorate-General for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Negotiations, Vasilis Maragos.

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“Thank you for your message of 13 January addressed to Commission President von der Leyen, in which expressing your concern on the current political situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina and transmit the list of signatories of your letter. The President has asked me to reply to you,” it says, congratulating “on the success of the initiative you organised on 10 January in Brussels and in many other cities.”

“Bosnia and Herzegovina has a future in the EU only as a single, united and sovereign country. President von der Leyen reiterated this message during her visit to your country in September 2021, and made it clear in particular that it is crucial for the country to unblock State institutions and start working on much-needed reforms.”

“The EU deeply regrets the prolonged political crisis, which has held back progress on reforms, and condemns the blockage of the State institutions,” the response said, adding that the path currently taken by Bosnia’s semi-autonomous Republika Srpska (RS) entity “may only lead to isolation.”

“Initiatives aimed at withdrawing from State institutions are unacceptable and endanger the country’s EU accession path. The EU also firmly condemns the rhetoric and actions by RS leaders during the unconstitutional celebrations of 9 January, which have further heightened tensions. The RS leadership should put an end to a worrying trend of hatred and intolerance. There is no place in the European Union for minimisation and denial of war crimes and genocide, nor for the glorification of war criminals,” the letter says.

It stresses that the EU expects Republika Srpska entity representatives to urgently return in full capacity to the work of State institutions and ensure they function properly, adding that “this is key for Bosnia and Herzegovina to fully benefit from EU programmes and funds and foster socio-economic recovery from the pandemic.”

“Without fully functioning State institutions, Bosnia and Herzegovina is at risk of losing significant financial assistance, as Commissioner Várhelyi clearly stated during his visit to the country in November 2021.”

The official wrote that the EU is, together with the United States, and in close cooperation with the Council of Europe’s Venice Commission and OSCE/ODIHR, “committed to facilitate a dialogue on constitutional and electoral reforms to make it possible for all citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina to compete for the Presidency and House of Peoples without discrimination, thus complying with the rulings of the European Court of Human Rights.”

“These and other reforms in the areas of democracy and functionality, rule of law, fundamental rights and public administration reform are key for Bosnia and Herzegovina to fulfil the 14 key priorities from the Commission Opinion on the EU membership application of the country, and advance on its EU path. Bosnia and Herzegovina belongs in the European Union. We expect all political leaders to focus on this European agenda, and we thank you and the rest of civil society for raising their attention to these vital matters for a peaceful, democratic and prosperous future for every citizen of Bosnia and Herzegovina.”

“I would like to thank you once more for your letter and for your commitment to Bosnia and Herzegovina’s EU accession perspective,” the letter concludes.

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