Germany is hoping to lend a helping hand to Bosnia by urging a “European clause” that would make it impossible for the leaders of Bosnia’s three ethnic groups to veto any legislation related to European integration and allow state parliament to enact laws through a simple majority. It is, of course, a nice idea. It is also not going to happen.
According to German officials cited by Bosnian and German media outlets, Germany is hoping its initiative will break the political stalemate in Bosnia and allow urgent reforms to be pushed through. German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who met with Sulejman Tihic of the Bosniak ethno-nationalist Party of Democratic Action (SDA) in Berlin last weekend, said she was hoping to push through a compromise that would allow for constitutional reform to strengthen the country’s state government. Bosnia’s state government remains weak since the end of the 1992-1995 war, in which the Dayton peace agreement afforded to two separate entities the powers that should have gone to the state.
“First on the agenda is the new government, then urgent reforms,” Rainer Stinner, foreign policy chief of Germany’s Free Liberal Party (FDP), told the Sarajevo newspaper Dnevni Avaz last weekend, saying that they were seeking to push through changes to the Bosnian constitution.
It is unclear how Merkel plans to achieve this ambitious goal, when many others before her have failed, and because the details of this agenda have not been revealed in full, it is also unclear what motivation will be offered the quarrelling ethnic groups to return to the constitutional table.
As it stands, each of the three ethnic groups can veto any legislation put through state parliament, and as such, no significant legislation can ever be passed. Bosnian Serb leaders will not cede any authority to the state government , and short of promising Milorad Dodik, president of Bosnia’s Serb-dominated entity of Republika Srpska, more power than he now has, there is little Merkel can offer in the way of persuasion. Bosnian Serb leaders have made it clear that the European clause will not go through, viewing it as the nail on the coffin of Republika Srpska.
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