SARAJEVO, October 15 (FENA) – President of the Party of Democratic Action (SDA) Bakir Izetbegović sent a letter to international officials – High Representative Valentin Inzko, US and British Ambassadors Eric Nelson and Matthew Field, Head of the EU delegation to BiH Johann Sattler and Head of the OSCE Mission to BiH Kathleen Kavalec.
Izetbegović’s letter follows below in its entirety:
“Last week, a letter was sent to you from the president of the HDZ BiH, in which matters are represented in a distorted way in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and especially the attitude of the SDA towards the Agreement between the two parties signed on June 17, 2020, in Mostar.
It is true that the SDA accepted the agreement with the HDZ, in the presence of representatives of the international community, agreeing on an arrangement for the elections in the City of Mostar, and the principles for amending the Election Law. After that, the Parliamentary Assembly of BiH adopted appropriate amendments to the Election Law, so that the elections in the city of Mostar will be held at the end of this year. We expected that the HDZ BiH, after this act, would finally stop with blackmails and blockades and agree to the implementation of the results of the 2018 General Elections for the BiH entity of the Federation of BiH, and to appoint the judges of the Constitutional Court of FBiH.
For almost two years now, the HDZ BiH has been persistently refusing to implement the election results that cannot be done without the consent and participation of this political party. For almost as long, the FBiH president, who comes from the HDZ BiH, refuses to appoint judges to the FBiH Constitutional Court, further complicating and questioning the functioning of the FBiH.
We have warned the HDZ BiH about this all the time, because it is not only an unconstitutional activity, but also a criminal offense, and we have taken the position that until this is done, there is no sense in talking about the Election Law. It is, therefore, our attempt to persuade the HDZ to fulfill its constitutional and legal obligations, to turn away from blackmails, blockades and attempts at domination, and to start fulfilling its obligations.
When it comes to amending the Election Law, Bosnia and Herzegovina has an obligation to implement several judgments of the European Court of Human Rights and one judgment of the BiH Constitutional Court. The judgments of the European Court of Human Rights refer to the rights of those citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina who do not belong to any of the constituent peoples, and the judgment of the BiH Constitutional Court concerns the legitimate occupancy of the FBiH House of Peoples, not as the HDZ persistently tries to present it – the Presidency of BiH.
Attempts to implement the decisions of the European Court of Human Rights have been present for almost 11 years. The European Commission and former Enlargement Commissioner Mr. Fuele were also involved in the process.
Even then, the SDA accepted the solution offered by the European Commission, the HDZ BiH rejected it. Nevertheless, the HDZ BiH persistently accuses the SDA for the failure of this process. We especially note that we are nevertheless ready to continue the talks. We are even ready to accept a solution offered to us by the Venice Commission, which is in line with the European Convention on Human Rights. We have said this many times.
Therefore, the problem is not the position of the SDA, but the problem of the policy pursued by the HDZ BiH and its desire to once again confirm the discrimination pointed out by the European Court of Human Rights by amending the Election Law. If the changes advocated by the HDZ were agreed to, the implementation of the judgment of the European Court of Human Rights on the Sejdić/Finci appeal and a number of other appeals would be prevented forever, the will of the majority in the FBiH House of Representatives would become meaningless because everything would be subjected to the will of “legitimate representatives” in the House of Peoples of the FBiH Parliament.
Every convocation of the Presidency of BiH, from the Dayton PA until today, had a member from the ranks of the Croat people. The fact that this member did not always come from the HDZ is not a problem under the Constitution of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Election Law and the European Convention on Human Rights, but it is a problem for the policies of the HDZ BiH and its attitude towards the state of Bosnia and Herzegovina and patriotic voters who make up the majority in this country.
The unfounded claims of the HDZ about the discrimination of the Croat people in Bosnia and Herzegovina especially provoke the citizens and voters, because they insult common sense and what they witness every day.
There are significantly more Croat representatives in leading positions in the government structures at the state level, and at the entity level, than the percentage that Croats make up in the structure of the BiH population. And it is regularly to the detriment of the Bosniak people.
According to the constitutional structure of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Croat people are one of the three constituent peoples. The Constitution of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the entities and the cantons prescribe mechanisms for the protection of the vital interests of the constituent peoples so that the thesis of the discrimination of the Croat people in the state of Bosnia and Herzegovina and its FBiH entity does not stand. No decision at these levels of government can be made without the participation and consent of the Croat people.
We can speak about the threat to the rights of the Bosniak and Croat people in the entity of RS, because the authorities there do not want to fully implement the Decision of the BiH Constitutional Court on Equality of the Peoples from 2000, because they persistently refuse to recognize the Bosnian language, apply proportional representation in public institutions and amend the unconstitutional Rules of Procedure of the Constitutional Court of that entity.
Finally, the SDA, as a mainly Bosniak-backed political party, wants to have good cooperation with the HDZ BiH as a predominantly Croat-supported political party. However, this requires the HDZ BiH to show a clear readiness to respect the European Convention on Human Rights, to stop obstructions, blockades and attempts at domination.
Only with a balance of interests of all parties in BiH, including the Bosniak and civic-oriented political options, and a compromise that accepts such a balance we can reach a solution that will be supported by the public and receive the necessary support of parliamentarians in both houses of the BiH Parliament.
Izetbegović also forwarded the letter to European People’s Party (EPP) President Donald Tusk and all members of the Peace Implementation Council (PIC).