Tough negotiating positions and maximalist demands by the leaders of the three strongest parties in Bosnia's Federation entity have scuppered the latest attempt to establish a new entity government. Party leaders pledged to reconvene negotiations at the end of the week.
The meeting was held in Sarajevo on Wednesday but after two hours Bakir Izetbegovic from the Party of Democratic Action, SDA, Zeljko Komsic, from the Democratic Front, DF, and Dragan Covic, from the Croatian Democratic Union, HDZ, said they had been unable to agree on the distribution of eight Bosniak, five Croat and three Serb ministerial positions in the new Federation government.
Izetbegovic said the SDA had moderated its initial request and settled for seven rather then eight ministerial positions - but that was still not sufficient to accommodate requests from the HDZ and DF, each of which wants six.
Negotiations are expected to continue on Sunday. “We are aware of what is expected from us,” Komsic said. However, talks were complicated by the fact that the DF had doubled its demands and sought six posts instead of three as it had demanded earlier.
Covic reiterated that the HDZ would also not accept less than six ministerial seats. “If we can agree – fine, but if not then we should look for other options,” he said, noting that the state government would not be confirmed without a prior agreement on the makeup of the Federation government.
In another development on Wednesday, the DF abandoned scheduled negotiations with the SDA about the formation of the Sarajevo cantonal government.
The parties’ maximalist demands threaten to deepen Bosnia’s already difficult political crisis, as important legal deadlines are about to expire soon.
If no new Federation government is established and if the budget for 2015 is not adopted by the end of February, the Federation would be left without financing and the new President of the Federation, Marinko Cavara, from the HDZ, may dismiss the Federation assembly and call new elections.
If Cavara does not dismiss the Federation parliament, the outgoing Federation government – which has been operating under a technical mandate since February 2013 – could continue to govern under a technical mandate for another four years.
If such a government continued in office without support from parliament, however, it would be unlikely to deliver any reforms.
In addition, if the failure to form Federation government blocks confirmation of the new state government beyond March 11, the Bosnian Presidency will have to start a new procedure for the selection of the state government premier-designate.
This process could remain blocked until next general elections scheduled for 2018, however, because Bosnia's constitution does not envisage procedures for the dismissal of the parliament and early elections.
Par: Srecko Latal