Connect with us

Bosnia and Herzegovina

Strong support for Bosnia and Herzegovina’s integration into the European Union

SHARE:

Published

on

We use your sign-up to provide content in ways you've consented to and to improve our understanding of you. You can unsubscribe at any time.

In a report adopted on Thursday (24 June), Parliament welcomes Bosnia and Herzegovina’s commitment to advancing on its EU path, but demands further substantial reforms, Plenary session  AFET.

Reacting to the 2019-2020 Commission reports on Bosnia and Herzegovina, MEPs call on the European Council to continue backing Bosnia and Herzegovina’s European perspective, “including sending a positive political message on the granting of candidate status”.

They recognise the steps taken by Bosnia and Herzegovina to address key aspects of the Commission’s Opinion on the country’s EU membership application, but recall that the effective functioning of independent and accountable democratic institutions is a prerequisite for advancing in the EU integration process, including obtaining candidate status. Reforms in the areas of democratic functionality, rule of law, fundamental rights and public administration are crucial, they add.

Advertisement

In view of attempts to undermine the country’s statehood and constitutional values, Parliament expresses its strong support for the sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence of Bosnia and Herzegovina recalling that the path towards EU membership depends on sustainable peace, stability and meaningful reconciliation that underpins the democratic and multicultural character of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Constitutional and electoral reforms

MEPs stress that Bosnia and Herzegovina needs to address shortcomings in its constitutional framework and to move forward with reforms to transform the country into a fully functional and inclusive state.

Advertisement

The report also calls on the authorities to resume inclusive negotiations on electoral reform, eliminating all forms of inequality and discrimination in the electoral process. It emphasises that the agreement reached regarding elections in Mostar enabled the city’s citizens to vote in the 2020 local elections for the first time since 2008.

Migratory pressure

Concerned by the increased migratory pressure that has led to a grave humanitarian situation, MEPs call for a coordinated, strategic, countrywide response, in order to improve border management and to build appropriate reception capacity across the country. To fight cross-border crime more effectively, closer cooperation with neighbouring countries and relevant EU agencies is essential, MEPs stress.

Quote

Rapporteur Paulo Rangel (EPP, Portugal) said: “Bosnia and Herzegovina is at the heart of Europe and its diversity is at the core of European DNA. Further reforms are needed, building upon modest progress to date. We support an inclusive dialogue involving reforms that will allow BiH to advance on its European path and to obtain candidate status. This is only possible by affirming Bosnia and Herzegovina's pluralistic nature while ensuring a functional democracy where all peoples and citizens are equal!”

The report was adopted by 483 votes in favour, 73 against and 133 abstentions.

More information 

Bosnia and Herzegovina

New peace envoy gets hostile reception from Bosnian Serb leaders

Published

on

By

European Union High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina Christian Schmidt speaks during the handover ceremony in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina August 2, 2021. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic

German politician Christian Schmidt (pictured) took up the post of Bosnia's international peace overseer on Monday (2 August) after a hostile reception by Bosnian Serb leaders who want the Office of the High Representative (OHR) to be scrapped, writes Daria Sito-sucic.

Schmidt, a former government minister, replaced Austrian diplomat Valentin Inzko after 12 years as the international High Representative in Bosnia, whose office oversees the 1995 Dayton peace agreement.

Advertisement

"It's an honour for me to take this responsibility and serve the people of Bosnia-Herzegovina," Schmidt said during the official takeover ceremony in the capital of Sarajevo.

But Milorad Dodik, the Serb member of Bosnia's tripartite presidency, said Schmidt was not welcome.

"You were not chosen as the High Representative. The Serb Republic ... will not respect anything you do," he said.

Advertisement

The OHR was set up as part of the U.S.-brokered Dayton peace accords that ended Bosnia's 1992-95 war to supervise the reconstruction of a country torn apart by conflict in which 100,000 died.

Schmidt's approval in late May by the Steering Board of the Peace Implementation Council, a body gathering representatives of major world organisations and governments, was rejected by Bosnian Serbs and their ally Russia. Read more.

Late in July, Russia and China also failed to get the U.N. Security Council to strip some OHR powers and shut it down. Read more.

The Bosnian Serbs have long requested the shutdown of the OHR.

Last week, the parliament of Bosnia's Serb-dominated Serb Republic rejected making the denial of the Srebrenica genocide a crime, threatening the dissolution of Bosnia and passing its own decrees instead. Read more.

Serb nationalists deny that genocide occurred in 1995 at the UN-protected enclave of Srebrenica, when about 8,000 Muslim men and boys were killed by Bosnian Serb forces, despite such rulings by two international courts.

International envoys, whose powers stem from the Dayton peace treaty, can impose laws and fire officials.

Continue Reading

Bosnia and Herzegovina

Bosnia's intelligence chief arrested over forged diploma accusations

Published

on

By

Bosnian police on Wednesday (14 July) arrested the country's intelligence chief on accusations of money laundering and abusing his office to forge university diplomas, police and prosecutors said, writes Daria Sito-Sucic, Reuters.

Osman Mehmedagic (pictured), the head of the Intelligence-Security Agency (OSA), was arrested at the request of state prosecutors and police were conducting activities accordingly, Sarajevo police spokesman Mirza Hadziabdic told Reuters.

The prosecutors' office said in a statement it was investigating Mehmedagic for the criminal acts of abuse of office or authority, of forging the documents and money laundering.

Advertisement

It said that more information would be available later on Wednesday.

Corruption is widespread in Bosnia, ethnically divided after the bloody breakup of Yugoslavia in the Balkan wars of the 1990s, infiltrating all spheres of life, including the judiciary, education and health.

Last month, police arrested the director of the American University in Sarajevo and Tuzla and two associates for reportedly illegally issuing a diploma to Mehmedagic.

Advertisement

In October, Mehmedagic and an associate were charged with abuse of office for allegedly using agency resources to spy on a man who filed a criminal complaint against him but the court acquitted them of the charges. Prosecutors appealed.

Continue Reading

Bosnia and Herzegovina

After ten years of promises, authorities of Bosnia and Herzegovina still don't tell the people who pollutes air in their towns

Published

on

Air in Bosnia and Herzegovina is among the dirtiest in Europe (1) and in 2020, it was ranked 10th in the PM2.5 pollution worldwide (2). Despite that, citizens still have a hard time trying to understand: Who is responsible? Although the state authorities have been obliged to collect and publish the data on pollution since 2003, they are not able to launch an adequate system so far. Non-governmental organizations Arnika (Czechia) and Eko forum Zenica (Bosnia and Herzegovina) published top-tens of the largest polluters for 2018 (3) based on those data available. They urge the governments to ensure access to information from all large industries. The top-ten of the largest polluters of Bosnia and Herzegovina can be found here.

Not surprisingly, large factories that are usually considered as the culprits of pollution lead  the top-tens for 2018: ArcelorMittal Zenica, thermal power plants Tuzla, Ugljevik, Gacko, cement kilns Lukavac and Kakanj, GIKIL coke plant, and refinery in Slavonski Brod. Arnika and Eko forum Zenica publish the data collected from the state authorities since 2011. For the first time, the alternative database shows industries from both entities of the country.

“There was a slight improvement in the data transparency by 2019, as the annual emission reports are finally publicly available online (4). However, the official websites are not user friendly and only experts can understand what the numbers represent. That is why we interpret the data and believe that the public will use them to act towards the polluters and the authorities. Without public demand, the environmental conditions will never improve,” Samir Lemeš from Eko forum Zenica said.

Advertisement

Comparison of the data from the last decade enables us to recognize which companies invest in modernization and technologies to protect the environment and human health. Decrease in pollution from coal power plant Ugljevik was caused by investment into desulphurisation in 2019. Emissions of ArcelorMittal Zenica also decreased, but it was caused by the drop in production related to the global economic crisis; citizens of Zenica are still waiting for modernization. 

Some of the largest polluters are still hiding their environmental footprint - such as the coal power plant in Kakanj. While in the EU, coal power plants report emissions of about 15 pollutants, Bosnian plants - such as coal power plant Gacko - publish data only on 3-5 basic chemicals. For example information on heavy metals releases, that represent serious threats to human health, is entirely missing.

Analysis of Arnika and Eko forum Zenica shows that the data submitted by the Industrial companies are not reliable and contain a huge load of errors - almost 90% of the data are irrelevant. Moreover, entities of Bosnia and Herzegovina operate different systems using different methodologies. 

Advertisement

“Although Bosnia and Herzegovina signed the PRTR Protocol (5) in 2003, the parliaments did not ratify it till today. Thus, the system is not obligatory for industries. Transparency of data on pollution is a key step on a way to cleaner air. Without access to information, the state authorities cannot act. The public and the media are not able to control the situation, and the polluters can keep doing their business as usual at the expense of the environment and public health," said Martin Skalsky, an expert on public participation from Arnika.

For comparison, in Czechia, 1,334 facilities reported emissions in 2018 and the reports included 35 pollutants into air and others into soil, wastewater and waste, while in Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina it was only 19 air-polluting substances (6) and in the Republic of Srpska only 6 chemicals. The situation is not improving and the number of reported substances is basically the same today as it was back in 2011.

(1) On pollution of Bosnia-Herzegovina's cities as the most polluted in Europe.     

(2) IQ Air - World's most polluted countries 2020 (PM2.5).

(3) 2018 is the year for which the latest data are available in responsible ministries of FBiH and RS. 

(4) Two authorities are responsible for the data collection, as the country of Bosnia and Herzegovina was divided by the Dayton Peace Agreement in 1995 into two entities: Republika Srpska and a Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and in 1999 a self-governing administrative unit Brčko District was formed.
Register for Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina (Federal ministry for environment and tourism).
Register for the Republic of Srpska (Hydrometeorological Institute of Republika Srpska).

(5) A mandatory information tool for the signatories of the Protocol on Pollutant Release and Transfer Registers to the UNECE Aarhus Convention on environmental democracy, signed by Bosnia and Herzegovina back in 2003. However, the country did not ratify the PRTR Protocol till nowadays.

(6) Arsen, cadmium, copper, mercury, nickel, lead, zinc, ammonium, methane, HCL, HF, PAH, PCDD/F, NMVOC, CO, CO2, SO2/SOx, NO2/NOx, PM10. More on chemical substances and their impact on human health.

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

Trending