Bosnia and Herzegovina: PACE calls on the authorities and key political stakeholders to stop obstructionism

Strasbourg, 24.01.2012 – On the eve of the 10th anniversary of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s accession to the Council of Europe, which will be celebrated in April 2012, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), meeting in plenary in Strasbourg, has once again called on the authorities of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the key political stakeholders to “stop obstructionism and work constructively at the level of state institutions”. “It is time to move from ethnocracy to democracy,” said Karin Woldseth (Norway, EDG) – one of the co-rapporteurs on the subject, with Jean-Claude Mignon (France, EPP/CD) – at the opening of the debate.

In its resolution adopted today, the Assembly regrets, in particular, that more than a year after the elections, no government has yet been formed. Despite the serious economic and financial situation in the country, the leaders of the six main political parties continued their bargaining about the ethnic distribution of posts in the Council of Ministers until 28 December 2011, when they finally reached an agreement, notably on the appointment of a new chairman of the Council of Ministers who, in the Assembly’s view, “now urgently needs to complete government formation, in order to get the country back on track”.

This “perpetual cycle of deadlock and confrontation” has hampered the completion of much needed reforms in key sectors, such as democratic institutions, the rule of law and human rights. The PACE therefore invited the Parliamentary Assembly of Bosnia and Herzegovina to adopt constitutional amendments without further delay, reiterating that the execution of the Sejdic and Finci* judgment was a first step in the constitutional reform.

If the necessary amendments were not adopted in good time before the next elections in 2014, the Assembly warned that the continued membership of Bosnia and Herzegovina in the Council of Europe could be at stake.

The Assembly has resolved to closely follow the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina and to take stock of the progress achieved in the implementation of this and previous resolutions - resolutions 1701 (2010) and 1725 (2010). If no progress is made by 15 March 2012, the Assembly “will consider any further action that might be required at its April 2012 part-session”.

*On 22 December 2009, the European Court of Human Rights delivered its judgment in the case of Sejdic and Finci v. Bosnia and Herzegovina, in which it found a violation of Protocol No. 12 (general prohibition of discrimination) and a violation of Article 3 of Protocol No. 1 in conjunction with Article 14 of the Convention (right to free elections and prohibition of discrimination in relation to other Convention-protected rights). Both Mr Finci (a Jew) and Mr Sejdic (a Roma) belong to the constitutional category of “Others” and as such cannot stand for election to the Presidency of the country or be elected to the House of Peoples of the Parliamentary Assembly of Bosnia and Herzegovina.