Bulgaria’s Borissov appeals to Western Balkan leaders to preserve peace

Bulgaria’s Borissov appeals to Western Balkan leaders to preserve peace
By bne IntelliNews April 10, 2018

Boyko Borissov, prime minister of the current EU Council chair Bulgaria, called on April 10 on the leaders of the Western Balkan countries to preserve peace and stability in the region, and to resist recent provocations.

Borissov was speaking at an economic forum in the Bosnian town of Mostar, which took place after a recent hike in tensions between Kosovo and Serbia, and as elections loom in Bosnia later this year. 

Borissov addressed reporters after opening the forum and meeting Serbia’s President Aleksandar Vucic, trying to calm down situation sparked by the Kosovan special forces’ arrest of the director of the Serbian Government's Office for Kosovo and Metohija Marko Djuric. Since then, the word “war” has been bandied about in both Belgrade and Pristina, despite officials’ public claims that they want peace and dialogue.

“I appeal to our brothers — Muslims, Bosniaks, Croats, Serbs, the whole region — to show reason because the consequences will only be on the Balkans. We have lived through that. Bulgaria went back decades just because of the war. We should not be selfish and think that a conflict will pass any of us by. Something can be ruined in a second, and take 20 years to recover,” Borissov told reporters.

He added that he was certain on one thing: that the EU wants peace and prosperity on the Balkans.

“Regarding the other big players on the international stage – I hope they too [want peace],” Borissov added.

His call was backed by Vucic who said that his country will seek ways to find a compromise with Kosovo.

Borissov also warned Bosnian politicians that unless they set aside their differences and adopt changes to election legislation, the country could face political paralysis.

“From my conversations with the three sides [Bosniaks, Croats and Serbs] I think that they will not reach a compromise on the election law […] This could paralyse Bosnia permanently,” Borissov told reporters.

Bosnia is due to hold general and presidential elections in October, but local analysts fear that without legislation changes it could be impossible to establish a new House of Peoples (the upper chamber of parliament) either at the state level or in the Muslim-Croat Federation.

The Bosnian Croats want the election law to be changed to ensure that their representative in the tripartite presidency will not be elected by the Bosniaks, who dominate the entity in terms of population numbers. Representatives of the international community have organised several meetings in the last few days to try to resolve the situation, but so far have not achieved progress.

Meanwhile, Mostar, where the forum took place, is the only municipality in Bosnia where no local elections have been held since 2012, amid a dispute between Bosniaks and Croats over the composition of the city council. Legislation changes are also required to allow Mostar to finally hold elections.

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