The assembly of Bosnia's Serb-dominated entity, Republika Srpska, on Tuesday held an emergency session on decision of the state statistical agency to publish the results of Bosnia's 2013 census - without first agreeing on a shared methodology with Bosnian Serb experts.
After a heated debate, the assembly asked Bosnian State Statistical Agency to withdraw its decision to publish the results of the 2013 census, and asked the government of the entity to prepare a draft law that would allow publication of the census results by Republika Srpska autonomously.
Publication of the census, together with an agreement on the coordinating mechanism for Bosnia's accession process and adaptation of Stabilization and Association Agreement, SAA, are the three remaining key conditions for Bosnia to obtain EU candidate country status.
Bosnian Serb presidency member Mladen Ivanic said last week that the announcement from the state statistical agency had appalled him, and indicated that he would now harden his position on other issues in response.
This week, media reported that Ivanic on June 15 rejected a request from the presidency’s Croat member, Dragan Covic, to hold a telephone conference between all three presidency members to discuss a proposed agreement on the second issue - adaptation of the SAA.
"Ivanic just opposed the idea that the adaptation on the SAA being approved through an urgent procedure ... there is still time to approve the update of the SAA, and he wanted to seek the opinion of the government of RS," she said.
"The next weeks will be crucial for Bosnia to proceed on the path of EU integration. On July 1, Slovakia will take the Presidency of the European Union, and their representatives have confirmed that they will solve the issue of Bosnia and Herzegovina,” he said.
Zvizdic referred to a promise which the Slovak Foreign Minister, Bosnia's former High Representative, Miroslav Lajcak, recently made to Bosnian officials, pledging that if Bosnia met the three remaining conditions, Slovakia will persuade EU foreign ministers to give Bosnia the EU questionnaire by the end of July.
Even this promise was apparently not enough, however, to move Bosnian politicians to act more responsibly and make serious progress in regard to difficult and unpopular reforms. Instead, they have hardened their positions.
Western diplomats over the past month have tried to help all sides to reach a compromise and have suggested that the state parliament extend the deadline for publication of the census results until after the local elections.
All sides apparently agreed to this, local and international officials confirmed to BIRN, but then Velimir Jukic, the director of Bosnia Statistical Agency, on May 18 announced his decision to publish the results of the census.
"On one hand, that was a result of his anger about the decision taken by Velimir Jukic to unilaterally publish the results of the census ... on the other hand, Ivanic probably wants to show the RS public that he's protecting Republika Srpska and is not a traitor, as the government of RS claims he is," Topic said.