MEP Manfred Weber on Bosnia's electoral reform: Failure is not an option

NEWS 11.02.2022 13:58
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Source: N1

Failure is “not an option” when it comes to electoral reform in Bosnia as it is a precondition for a functioning state and its path towards EU membership, MEP Manfred Weber from the European People’s Party (EPP) said, adding that the funds the EU is providing to the region are “not without conditions” and that the recent developments in BiH’s Republika Srpska entity are “unacceptable.”

An EPP Group Delegation led by Manfred Weber met with BiH authorities in Sarajevo on Friday.

Weber said the EPP group is the largest political family in Europe, and that the group came to Sarajevo to listen and contribute to the ongoing negotiations, especially on the electoral law.

“Let me express first of all that we are here in Europe, so for us, Bosnia and Herzegovina is a future member state of the European Union,” he said.

He said that political actors showed the will to reach a compromise on the matter of electoral reform in BiH, adding that without completing this process, “the open door towards Europe, candidate status, is very difficult to reach.”

It represents a precondition to have a functioning state, he said, asking all the actors involved to reach a compromise.

The basis for the process must be the 1995 Dayton Peace Agreement, he stressed.

Weber commented on the unilateral activities of one of Bosnia’s two semi-autonomous entities, Republika Srpska (RS), to withdraw from state institutions.

On Thursday, the RS National Assembly adopted a Draft Law on establishing a parallel High Judicial and Prosecutorial Council in the entity, which will be discussed within the next 60 days.

“We want to underline that what we saw from the Republika Srpska is unacceptable for us. I mention this because on a European level you can imagine that people are also considering why we invest so much money in the region,” he said.

“And that is why I want to express, especially in regard to the developments in Republika Srpska, that the funds the EU is preparing and providing to the region are not without conditions. So we need progress,” he added, noting that this means the implementation of the 14 priorities the European Commission defined for the country to achieve EU candidate status.

“Failure on the question of the electoral law is not an option at all,” Weber stressed.

“We feel the tensions in the country. We have also, on a broader scale, international tensions going on, and that’s why I want to remind everyone that we are also in a historic moment, not only for Bosnia and Herzegovina but also for the European Union as a whole,” he said, adding that, in such a situation “we need leadership, we need the readiness to compromise, and the awareness about this historic situation we are having.”

“We saw the political will and my main message is: nobody should leave the table without a compromise,” he said, adding that the EPP will be “the first group to fight then for candidate status for BiH if we have a solution on the table.”

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