Croat Democratic Union (HDZ BiH) ministers blocking decisions on financing the upcoming elections are showing disregard for democracy, EU Delegation to Bosnia said Tuesday evening, following media allegation that Head of the Delegation Johann Sattler prevented the High Representative in the country from imposing the decision on the financing of October general elections.
“HDZ-BiH ministers blocking decisions on the funding of the upcoming elections show a disregard for democracy. There is no question that elections will be funded. If necessary, and as a measure of last resort, through the Bonn Powers. In practical terms, there is little time left. An institutional solution would be the best option, as it would mean local ownership. The EU is working closely with its international partners, including the OHR, to find a solution that would ensure that the upcoming elections are fully funded.,” the Delegation said.
Several BiH media outlets accused Sattler of siding with the HDZ BiH leader Dragan Covic in preventing the general elections from taking place.
I’ve had a quick chat w/ a few of my non-Balkan sources in Brussels but who keep an eye on the region. They’re all confirming the same thing: the EU Ambassador in Sarajevo @josattler is preventing @OHR_BiH from using its Bonn Powers to secure elxn funding. Very dangerous stuff.
— Jasmin Mujanović (@JasminMuj) May 23, 2022
The HDZ BiH opposes the holding of elections in BiH before the BiH Election Law is amended in a way so that only the “legitimate Croat” can be elected in the tripartite BiH Presidency. The incumbent Croat Presidency member, Zeljko Komsic, is considered by the HDZ and ethnic Croat parties gathered around them to be illegitimate because he allegedly received more Bosniak than Croat votes and as such he is unsuited to occupy that position.
The BiH Constitution, on the other hand, stipulates that the Presidency consists of a Bosniak, Croat members elected from the Federation entity and a Serb member elected from the Republika Srpska entity, not stipulating who can vote for whom in the elections.
International community’s High Representative Christian Schmidt, in charge of overseeing the civilian implementation of the Dayton Peace Agreement that ended the 1992-1995 war in Bosnia, warned on several occasions that BiH authorities must provide funds for the October general elections and that they should not expect him to use the so-called Bonn Powers with which he can impose or annul laws as well as to sanction local politicians whom he finds to be in violation of the Dayton Agreement.
Despite his earlier opposition to the use of the said Powers, he did however use them earlier this year when he suspended the Republika Srpska entity Law on Immovable Property which would give the entity the power to dispose of state property and resources without the state’s approval. The Law is awaiting a Constitutional Court assessment of whether it violates the BiH Constitution.