After a nine-hour meeting on the vexed Sejdic-Finci ruling ended without result, the EU Enlargement Commissioner blamed the impasse on Bosnian party leaders.
The EU Enlargement Commissioner, Stefan Fule, blamed leaders of Bosnia's seven main parties for the failure of yet another meeting on how to implement a 2009 Strasbourg court ruling.
The European Court of Human Rights has obliged Bosnia to change its constitution to enable ethnic minorities to run for top governing posts currently reserved to candidates of the three largest ethnic groups, Bosniaks, Serbs and Croats.
“I didn't fail, your politicians did,” Fule said on Tuesday, a day after the abortive meeting with the Bosnian parties.
He described the failure of the meeting as “deeply disappointing", adding that failure to implement the ruling was not a virtual issue but one carrying concrete consequences.
This is because the continued logjam exposes Bosnia to the threat of cuts in EU financial aid and stagnation in the integration process.
Fule said it was a shame that Bosnian politicians were failing to make progress as the rest of the region was moving forward.
However, Bosnia's main political parties still hold very different views on what might be acceptable to their parties while at the same time satisfying the terms of the rights ruling.
Martin Raguz, head of the Croat party HDZ 1990, said the political will for an agreement remained absent - but praised the efforts of Fule and his team.
The main area of dispute is over the election of the three members of Bosnia's state-level presidency.
Raguz said it was acceptable to retain the direct election of one presidency member from the mainly Serb entity, Republika Srpska, RS, and two from the Federation entity, treated a as a election area.
However, the Bosniak and Croat parties disagree over the election of the other two members of the presidency from the Federation.
Parties in the Federation have frequently mulled ways to elect two members of the presidency who will not come from the same ethnic group.
As Bosniaks greatly outnumber Croats in the Federation, Croats seek guarantees that they will be able to elect one member of the presidency.
However, Bosniaks resist any suggestion that the Federation should be divided into two ethnic zones for election purposes - fearing that it will bolster Croat claims to a third entity.
“The first member of the presidency [from the Federation] should be elected according to the largest number of votes he gets, calculated in the five cantons in which he won the largest number of votes,” Raguz suggested.
Bakir Izetbegovic, vice-president of the Bosniak Party of Democratic Action, SDA, said Bosniaks were not against that idea, but did not want the five cantons defined. Instead, they should be "'floating cantons' as they are not pre-defined”, he said.
The head of the mainly Bosniak Social Democratic Party, Zlatko Lagumdzija, also opposed ethnically defining two groups of cantons inside the Federation entity.
Serbs have less of a problem with the 2009 ruling, as whoever is elected as a member of the Bosnian presidency from the Republika Srpska is almost bound to be a Serb.
The Serbian Alliance of Independent Social Democrats, SNSD, and the Serbian Democratic Party, SDS, have already agreed to scrap the definition of the member of the Presidency from Republika Srpska as being a Serb.
“For us that is acceptable, and we have presented that standpoint before this,” the SNSD leader, Milorad Dodik, said. “The problem is agreeing on the procedures related to the election in the Federation.”
Mladen Bosic, chief of the SDS, said he suspected the whole issue was being stonewalled so that someone would then come up with the idea of broader constitutional changes, which Serbs would not favour or desire.
Autor: Elvira M. Jukic