SARAJEVO, April 3 (FENA) – The OSCE Parliamentary Assembly Special Representative for Southeast Europe Azay Guliyev paid his first visit to Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Western Balkans in March this year since taking office when he spoke to government officials on a number of issues, including the issue of amendments to the Election Law.
In an interview with FENA, Guliyev expressed optimism about the reform of electoral legislation, praising the establishment and work of the Interdepartmental Working Group for Electoral Reform, which is a sign that all parties are involved in resolving this important issue and are committed to working together to find the best possible options for compromise.
He noted that the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly promotes dialogue as the best means of achieving results, which is why he encouraged the parties already cooperating to resolve all issues they see as obstacles, to overcome them, and to prepare for this year’s elections.
“We all know that these elections are extremely important for deepening reforms and strengthening state institutions in Bosnia and Herzegovina,” Guliyev underlined.
He says that during his visit to BiH he also discussed regional cooperation, reconciliation and rehabilitation, as well as its path to EU membership, and stressed that all interlocutors in BiH strongly agreed that this path to EU integration remains one of BiH’s main goals and the most effective incentive to achieve progress in the reform process.
“Strong and effective state institutions are the goal of all political actors in BiH. I believe that by working together towards the same goal, there can be no issue that the parties cannot resolve together,” he said.
He added that, in order to achieve lasting peace and security, as well as the sustainable development of the Western Balkans, there is a great need to foster regional integration and cooperation, expressing confidence that Southeast European parliamentarians can and should play a role and cooperation, which can serve as an excellent platform for promoting security, cooperation, integration and development in the region.
During his visit to Sarajevo, Guliyev stressed that within his mandate, the promotion of dialogue in all segments of society, especially at the parliamentary level, is aimed at promoting reconciliation and rehabilitation in Southeast Europe, especially in the Western Balkans, and contributing to the transformation and democratic institution building.
“The process of reconciliation and rehabilitation must continue as well as reforms to strengthen democratic institutions in BiH. Various international organizations and institutions recommend reforms in Bosnia and Herzegovina in order to achieve certain standards. In the process of European integration, BiH and other Western Balkan countries need to implement reforms necessary to meet European Union standards. If this goal is set by all politicians, then society will support these reforms, no matter how difficult they may be,” said the OSCE Special Representative Azay Guliyev.
He commented on the situation in Ukraine and how much it can affect the Western Balkans, recalling that the countries of this region have gone through very difficult times during the last decade of the 20th century, and for many people memories are still fresh, but also, a lot has changed and visible progress has been made.
He notes that people around the world are affected when a crisis breaks out somewhere, but in this case, the crisis can be felt more strongly because Ukraine is close to this region and there are economic ties between the two regions.
But the Western Balkans has its own path that all regional and global players must respect, Guliyev said, and should not interfere in the situation in Ukraine because the Western Balkans region cannot cope with another escalation.
“What I understood at the meetings held in Sarajevo, there are mature and responsible politicians who are able to solve the challenges they face. I really hope that the impact of the Ukrainian crisis on the Western Balkans will be minimal and without security implications,” said Guliyev.
Asked if there were any plans to reorganize the OSCE Mission to BiH in terms of a stronger response to the crisis in Ukraine, Guliyev said the Mission in BiH has its mandate and said that BiH leaders praised the Mission’s work, adding that if the state institutions issue a request, the OSCE Mission, led by Ambassador Kathleen Kavalec, would respond in accordance with its mandate and capabilities.
A meeting of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly Bureau in Copenhagen is also scheduled for April 3 and 4, to discuss the next steps and reiterate calls for dialogue and parliamentary diplomacy.
“The OSCE Parliamentary Assembly and the OSCE, in general, intend to do everything in their power to achieve peace in Ukraine,” concluded the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly Special Representative for Southeast Europe Azay Guliyev.