Ethnic and national barriers to standing for political office in Bosnia and Herzegovina must be removed from the country’s constitution, in line with a European Court judgement.
William Hague, current Chairman of the Council of Europe’s Committee of Ministers and the United Kingdom’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, signalled a June deadline for the country to comply with the ruling and “adjust” the constitution.
“As Member States of the Council of Europe, it is for us to ensure that Bosnia and Herzegovina gives proper effect to the 2009 judgement of the European Court of Human Rights in the case of Sejdic-Finci vs Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH),” he said.
“As required by the Court’s judgement, Bosnia and Herzegovina must adjust its constitution so that no individual is barred from standing for political office on the basis of their national or ethnic origin.
“I regret that the Joint Interim Commission of the BiH Parliament has not yet made sufficient progress towards full implementation of this judgement.
“As the European Council of the European Union made clear in March last year, until a credible effort is made to accomplish this, the European Union will be unable to bring into force its Stabilisation and Association Agreement with Bosnia and Herzegovina.
I therefore hope to see significant and tangible progress towards full implementation by June, when the next Human Rights meeting of the Committee of Ministers will be held.
“I call on Bosnia and Herzegovina’s political leaders to make a determined effort to bring their longstanding discussion on this issue to an early conclusion, in line with the ECHR’s judgement.
“I understand well that securing agreement on constitutional reform is no easy task in any country, and particularly not in Bosnia and Herzegovina. I also acknowledge that this particular problem arises from the Constitution put in place by the Dayton Peace Agreement.
“Nonetheless, Bosnia and Herzegovina is not the first state that has been required to change its constitution to meet European standards and I urge its leaders to act without further delay, not least to ensure that the country does not slip further behind its neighbours on the road to EU membership.”