Borrell to Zovko: EU will protect the DPA spirit with one state, two entities and three constituent peoples

Strasbourg, 6 April 2022

During the plenary session of the European Parliament, Members participated in a newly established debate with High Representative Josep Borrell during which he could directly respond to the questions that were addressed. Vice Chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee Željana Zovko engaged in the discussion and asked Borrell about the next steps of EU support to Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Zovko commented on the adoption of the Strategic Compass and the achievement after Croatian efforts to include clear language on support for Bosnia and Herzegovina. She asked Borrell how the EU is planning to resolve the stalemate on the electoral law. According to Zovko, tensions in the country are rising and she underlined that this is a matter of conflict prevention and that peace and stability should be ensured.

In his response, Borrell referred to the Council Conclusions that mention the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina. He said that the leaders of the EU Member States have reiterated their commitment to the European perspective of the country, adding that the leaders of BiH need to swiftly finalize the agreement on the electoral reform that is vital for the stability and functionality of the country. “Our team, together with the US delegation has tried to facilitate intensive talks between political leaders. I strongly encourage the political leaders to make the final step towards finding an agreement. Important progress has been made, but parties could not find a consensus.” He encouraged the leaders to continue trying to agree, in particular on the electoral law. “The reform of the electoral law would allow to improve the framework to hold elections in October.” Borrell stated.

In a follow-up question, Zovko asked Borrel about Operation Althea. “In the Compass, the respect for the three constituent peoples are mentioned as a factor of balance for the future of Bosnia and Herzegovina, based on the Dayton Paris Peace Agreement. By the end of the year, the Security Council has to approve the prolongation of Althea. How are you going to ensure the necessary balance in BiH and the legitimate representation and how will you relax all sides to have the extension in the Security Council?”

In his response, Borrell stated that discrimination should be removed in Bosnia and Herzegovina in line with the judgements of the European Court of Human Rights. “Our work has been and will remain to protect the spirit of Dayton. One state, two entities and three constituent peoples, equally preserving the rights of all citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina.” He stressed. Regarding Althea, Borrell mentioned that he requested an increase of 500 soldiers from the reserve to ensure the peace and stability and to prevent what may happen if there is no agreemnet that allows to go ahead with eelctions in a peaceful and positive manner. On the extension, Borrell expressed that this is not in his hands, but that he expects that the members of the Security Council will prolong the mandate.

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