The leader of the biggest Bosniak Party of Democratic Action (SDA), Bakir Izetbegović, said on Sunday that "a unitary and civic model" was the only one on which Bosnia and Herzegovina could be based as a state, dismissing a demand that it be defined as a complex union made up of three constituent peoples.
The latter demand has been made by the Croat HDZ BiH party.
“A unitary or simple state, which is what Bosnia and Herzegovina was until its Dayton make-up was adopted, and which functions in line with the civic principle, is a natural framework and system that protects and enables the survival and development of the multiethnic community that Bosnia and Herzegovina was and that we aspire to restore,” Izetbegović said in an online discussion organised by the Sarajevo-based NGO “Krug 99”.
Izetbegovic says that Bosnia and Herzegovina as a state is much older than the Croats, Serbs and Bosniaks as its peoples today and that it is, therefore, unacceptable to seek solutions that would be based exclusively on the rights of those groups.
He described as disputable interpretations about the rights of constituent peoples, claiming that it was a term based on an erroneous translation of the Dayton peace agreement, originally written in English.
Whether the final interpretation will be that the three peoples in Bosnia and Herzegovina are “constituent” or are “constituents” of the state will determine how talks on the country's reorganisation should be conducted and new models sought.
Izetbegovic said that it was clear to everyone that Bosnia and Herzegovina as it is currently structured does not suit anyone, is too complex and does not respond to its citizens’ needs.
“A country with 13 constitutions and 14 legislatures in which decisions are made and which is run by close to 600 deputies and more than 120 ministers are too expensive, confusing and inefficient. The domination of members of one people over those of the other two peoples and others, which has been present throughout the country for a quarter of a century, is not good for the locally dominant people either,” the SDA leader said.
His proposal, therefore, is that Bosnia and Herzegovina should return to the principles of a civic state based on which it had functioned until 1995, with protection ensured for the rights of all ethnic communities living in it.
“The SDA fully supports the civic principle and is prepared for a full and immediate implementation of rulings by the European Court of Human Rights,” Izetbegovic said, describing as “unbelievable” the HDZ BiH's claim that, if organised as a civic state, Bosnia and Herzegovina would “soon turn into a Bosniak and then into an Islamic republic.”
He confirmed that so far there had been no progress in negotiations between the SDA and the HDZ BiH on changes to election legislation, suggesting that the format of the negotiations would have to be expanded to include other parliamentary parties and representatives of the state-level government.