EU’s Ashton tells Bosnia Sejdic-Finci issue will only get bigger and more urgent.

By bne IntelliNews April 18, 2013

EU’s foreign affairs commissioner Catherine Ashton told Bosnian leaders on Thursday, April 18, that the issue of amending the constitution in line with the Sejdic-Finci ruling “will not go away – it will get bigger and it will become more urgent”. Ashton was speaking in Sarajevo where she was on a one-day visit as part of a regional tour.

Her message comes after the EU lost its patience earlier this month and cancelled the third meeting of the EU-Bosnia dialogue on the accession process as the country failed several times to progress on implementing the European Court of Human Rights’ ruling in the Sedjic-Finci case. 

“I am really disappointed that no real progress has been made since I last came here,” Ashton said, reminding of her previous visit on the same matter six months ago. “Only progress on its implementation will allow the European Union to put into place the Stabilisation and Association Agreement for Bosnia and Herzegovina and to enable this country to submit a credible membership application.”

Last week EU enlargement commissioner Stefan Fuele warned Bosnia again that it needs to comply with the ruling prior to the 2014 general elections as another election violating the European Convention on Human Rights would be unacceptable, seriously undermining the legitimacy and credibility of the country's elected bodies.

Ashton said: “I really do share Stefan's regret that the political parties have not turned their declared commitment into concrete action. Instead it seems they have focused on party and ethnic interests.”

The Sejdic-Finci ruling calls for a constitutional change to allow minorities to run for high-level office. Bosnia’s constitution implies that only ethnics Bosniaks, Serbs and Croats have the right to be elected members of Presidency and House of Peoples.

Bosnia signed a Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA) with the EU – the first formal step towards accession – back in 2008 and since then has made almost no progress on its EU agenda because of the lack of political will.

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