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

China Investigates Former Powerful Security Chief

Former security chief and member of Politburo Standing Committee, Zhou Yongkang, under investigation for suspected 'serious disciplinary violation' More

India, US Look to Reset Ties During Kerry Visit

This week's talks will be first high level interaction between two countries since Prime Minister Narendra Modi took charge More

Video Young African Leadership Program Renamed to Honor Mandela

YALI program, launched by President Obama in 2010, aims to build skills in business, entrepreneurship, public management and civic leadership More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spati
X
Reasey Poch
July 28, 2014 7:18 PM
China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video ESA Spacecraft to Land on a Comet

After a long flight through deep space, a European Space Agency probe is finally approaching its target -- a comet millions of kilometers away from earth. Scientists say the mission may lead to some startling discoveries about the origins of the water on earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Africans Arrive in US for Leadership Program

President Barack Obama's Young African Leadership Initiative has brought hundreds of young Africans to the United States for a six-week program aimed at building their knowledge and skills in fields such as public administration and business. Out of the 50,000 young Africans who applied for the program, just one percent was accepted. VOA's Laurel Bowman caught up with some of those who made the cut and has this report.
Video

Video In Honduras, Amnesty Rumors Fuel US Migration Surges

False rumors in Central America are fueling the current surge of undocumented young people being apprehended at the U.S. border. The inaccurate claims suggest the U.S. will give amnesty to young migrants from the region. As VOA's Brian Padden reports from Honduras, these rumors trace back to President Obama's 2012 executive order to halt deportations for some young undocumented immigrants already living in the United States.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid