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.
TEXT SIZE - +
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

Multimedia Anti-Keystone XL Protests Continue

Demonstrators are worried about pipeline's effect on climate change, their traditional way of life, health and safety More

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid