Monday, 16 May 2022

Croatian FM Calls for One More Attempt to Reform Bosnia Electoral Law

ZAGREB, 16 May 2022 - One more attempt should be made to reform the electoral law in Bosnia and Herzegovina because the present one does not guarantee the equality of its constituent peoples, Croatian Minister of Foreign and European Affairs Gordan Grlić Radman said in Brussels on Monday. 

"Bosnia and Herzegovina still does not have an electoral law that guarantees the equality of its three constituent peoples and other ethnic groups, and that is not good for the country's stability. We need to make yet another attempt to carry out the electoral reform because that it the way towards EU membership candidate status," Grlić Radman told reporters before a meeting of EU foreign ministers.

The main topics of the meeting will be the Western Balkans and the Russian military aggression against Ukraine and the EU's response to it.

Grlić Radman said that the EU should send the Western Balkan countries a strong message regarding their accession to the Union, first of all by opening talks with Albania and North Macedonia and by making progress with regard to the liberalisation of the visa regime for Kosovo.

He said he would inform his EU counterparts of his visit to Ukraine last week together with Prime Minister Andrej Plenković.

"We have to increase pressure on Russia to stop the aggression. Croatia supports the sixth round of sanctions against Russia and can contribute to energy security given its geostrategic position and its infrastructure," Grlić Radman said.

Two weeks ago, the European Commission proposed a sixth package of sanctions against Russia over its military invasion of Ukraine, including a ban on Russian oil imports. There is still no agreement among the member states, and the main obstacle is Hungary, which seeks an exemption from the oil embargo.

Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis has said that the EU is hostage to one member state, without explicitly mentioning Hungary. "We must agree, we cannot be hostages," he said.

EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell has expressed doubt that ministers will be able to reach an agreement on the oil embargo given that some countries have very firm views.

For more, check out our politics section.

Monday, 16 May 2022

Izetbegović: Electoral Reform to Be Discussed Only After October Election

ZAGREB, 16 May 2022 - No agreement on the reform of electoral legislation in Bosnia and Herzegovina is possible at this moment, and talks should continue only after the general election in October, the leader of the ruling Bosniak SDA party, Bakir Izetbegović, said on Sunday.

"There is no legal space to amend the electoral law because the Central Electoral Commission called the election ten days ago. And also, we are too far off from an agreement," Izetbegović said in an interview with the Bosnian Faktor news website.

He said that negotiations on the electoral reform had fallen through because the leadership of the Bosnian Croat HDZ BiH party had "too ambitious plans" about amendments that should be adopted. He added that the HDZ BiH's strategy was wrong because it was based on the blockade of the Bosniak-Croat Federation entity, cooperation with Bosnian Serb leader Milorad Dodik and pressure on the SDA and Bosniaks.

Commenting on the announcement that a senior EU official would come to Sarajevo this month when the question of the electoral reform could be raised again, Izetbegović said that nothing would come of it and that he was certain that there would be no pressure to reach an agreement before the 2 October election.

"We have had some preparatory meetings with their advisers which clearly showed this approach and priorities," the SDA leader said. He pointed out that talks with EU officials would focus solely on the implementation of reforms and obstacles on the path to EU membership candidate status.

Izetbegović said that the electoral reform would be discussed "as soon as a new post-election coalition is formed."

For more, check out our politics section.