News / Europe

Commissioner: Bosnia Risks Seeing EU Path 'Frozen' without Reform

FILE - European Commissioner for Enlargement Stefan Fule, May 3, 2012.FILE - European Commissioner for Enlargement Stefan Fule, May 3, 2012.
x
FILE - European Commissioner for Enlargement Stefan Fule, May 3, 2012.
FILE - European Commissioner for Enlargement Stefan Fule, May 3, 2012.
Reuters
Bosnia's bid to join the European Union faces being "frozen" and a planned election next year declared invalid without urgent reform of its constitution, the EU enlargement commissioner said on Thursday.

Eighteen years since the end of Bosnia's war, the Balkan state continues to wrestle with deep ethnic rivalry that has left it languishing behind its fellow former Yugoslav republics on the long road to EU accession.

It must reform its constitution to remove a restriction on ethnic minorities running for office before it can even apply for EU membership, but political leaders have still to agree how to do so.

"The political leadership here has not prioritized the EU agenda and translated its declared commitments on the EU into concrete action," Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Fule told reporters in Sarajevo.

"This is very disappointing," he said before talks with Bosnia's main political leaders. "Without an agreement [on the reform] and then a Stabilization and Association Agreement [SAA] fully in force, [Bosnia's] EU path would be frozen."

Constitutional Reform

Bosnia signed the SAA, a stepping stone to EU candidacy, in 2008, but a lack of progress on the constitutional reform means the agreement is not yet fully operational. It had hoped to apply for membership of the EU this year.

The country will watch neighboring Croatia become the EU's 28th member on July 1. Montenegro has begun talks and Serbia and Macedonia are both candidates for membership. Kosovo, a former province of Serbia, has also yet to apply for accession.

The European Commission, the EU's executive arm, will issue its latest progress report on the Western Balkans next week, when it will consider whether to recommend the start of accession talks with Serbia and possibly Macedonia.
        
Bosnia has already missed an end-of-March deadline to overhaul its constitution and electoral law to address a 2009 ruling by the European Court of Human Rights.
        
Discrimination

Under the U.S.-brokered 1995 Bosnia peace treaty, only Bosniaks (Bosnian Muslims), Croats and Serbs are regarded as "constituent peoples" with the right to apply for top state jobs such as president. The court ruled that this discriminated against other ethnic groups, such as Bosnian Jews or Roma.
        
Without the reform, the Council of Europe says Bosnia's presidential and parliamentary elections due in 2014 will be considered in violation of the European Convention on Human Rights.
        
But the reform has become hostage to political maneuvering by rival Serb, Croat and Muslim leaders, who analysts say are using the negotiations to try to extract other concessions.
        
"Another election violating the European Convention on Human Rights would be unacceptable, seriously undermining the legitimacy and credibility of the country's elected bodies," Fule said, quoting Council of Europe Secretary-General Thorbjorn Jagland.

Bosnian Foreign Minister Zlatko Lagumdzija said he held out little hope of the country's main political parties agreeing on how to reform the constitution.

"I don't believe there is even a theoretical chance that seven political leaders can agree on the judgement," he said.

You May Like

How to Safeguard Your Mobile Privacy

As the digital world becomes more mobile, so too do concerns about eroding privacy and increased hacking More

'Desert Dancer' Chronicles Iranian Underground Dance Troupe

Film by Richard Raymond is based on true story of Afshin Ghaffarian and his friends More

Obesity Poses Complex Problem

Professor warns of obesity’s worldwide health impact More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam Wari
X
Katherine Gypson
May 25, 2015 1:32 AM
For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.
Video

Video On Film: How Dance Defies Iran's Political Oppression

'Desert Dancer' by filmmaker Richard Raymond is based on the true story of a group of young Iranians, who form an underground dance troupe in the Islamic Republic of Iran. This is the latest in a genre of films that focus on dance as a form of freedom of expression against political oppression and social injustice. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Turkey's Ruling Party Trying to Lure Voters in Opposition Stronghold

Turkey’s AK (Justice and Development) Party is seeking a fourth successive general election victory, with the goal of securing two-thirds of the seats in Parliament to rewrite the constitution and change the country's parliamentary system into a presidential one. To achieve that, the party will need to win seats in opposition strongholds like the western city of Izmir. Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video Millions Flock to Ethiopia Polls

Millions of Ethiopians cast their votes Sunday in the first national election since the 2012 death of longtime leader Meles Zenawi. Mr. Meles' party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, is almost certain of victory again. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Addis Ababa.
Video

Video Scientists Testing Space Propulsion by Light

Can the sun - the heart of our solar system - power a spacecraft to the edge of our solar system? The answer may come from a just-launched small satellite designed to test the efficiency of solar sail propulsion. Once deployed, its large sail will catch the so-called solar wind and slowly reach what scientists hope to be substantial speed. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video FIFA Trains Somali Referees

As stability returns to the once lawless nation of Somalia, the world football governing body, FIFA, is helping to rebuild the country’s sport sector by training referees as well as its young footballers. Abdulaziz Billow has more from Mogadishu.
Video

Video With US Child Obesity Rates on the Rise, Program Promotes Health Eating

In its fifth year, FoodCorps puts more than 180 young Americans into 500 schools across the United States, where they focus on teaching students about nutrition, engaging them with hands-on activities, and improving their access to healthy foods whether in the cafeteria or the greater community. Aru Pande has more.
Video

Video Virginia Neighborhood Draws People to Nostalgic Main Street

In the U.S., people used to grow up in small towns with a main street lined by family-owned shops and restaurants. Today, however, many main streets are worn down and empty because shoppers have been lured away by shopping malls. But in the Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria, Virginia, main street is thriving. VOA’s Deborah Block reports it has a nostalgic feel with its small restaurants and unique stores.

VOA Blogs