International community High Representative in BiH, Valentin Inzko, called on Thursday the authorities in the state to solve the “Sejdic – Finci Case” and to make the necessary changes of the laws in order to enable citizens of other nationalities, beside Serbs, Croats and Bosniaks, to be elected in BiH Presidency.
In the letter to BiH public, Inzko said that the end of the year is usually a time for reflection, looking back at our successes and our failures in the past year, and making plans for the future.
“For BiH politicians, there is cause for celebration, but also for disappointment. We have witnessed Bosnia and Herzegovina making ground-breaking progress on its path towards the EU, but we have also been faced by serious challenges to the constitutional order and institutions of the country”, Inzko emphasized.
He added that, yet there is one issue that has been left unresolved for seven years, and that is the European Court of Human Rights’ (ECHR) ruling in the case of Sejdić and Finci vs BiH. Inzko recalled that, on 22nd of December 2009, the ECHR ruled that Bosnia and Herzegovina has failed to uphold the right to equal participation in decision-making bodies for all its citizens, regardless of their ethnicity or religion.
For the past seven years, said the High Representative, the political leadership has been claiming that they want to build an inclusive, tolerant, modern, European society, while at the same time treating some citizens as less equal than others.
“This cannot go on any longer. Let me remind you that the Council of the EU has asked the European Commission to pay special attention to the implementation of the Sejdić-Finci ruling when preparing its opinion on BiH’s EU membership application. The Sejdić-Finci ruling is based on the principles of equality of all citizens regardless of their ethnicity, beliefs or gender, and its implementation will contribute to the establishing of a democratic and well-functioning society. This obligation will not go away”, stressed Inzko, adding that there have been some encouraging signs. According to him, “encouraging sign” is that the BiH Presidency unanimously adopted the Master Plan for the EU integration process, which includes a pledge to implement the ruling by the end of January 2017. Also, BiH Presidency member, Dragan Covic, has repeated this pledge in his letter to EU officials.
“The OHR welcomes this commitment, and we urge the authorities on all levels not to let this momentum and commitment go to waste. All BiH citizens have waited far too long. Do not disappoint them again”, said the High Representative at the end of his message.
The “Sejdic – Finci Case” is a question of dispute in BiH since 2009. When the European Court for Human Rights made a decision that BiH must enable the same right to all citizens and to change all related laws, including the Constitution, if it is necessary. Also, this is one of conditions which will make country one step closer to the EU.
The case was brought by Dervo Sejdic, a Roma activist, and Jakob Finci, who is Jewish. They argued that the BiH Constitution, which was negotiated as part of the Dayton peace accords, is discriminatory because certain electoral posts, for example on the tripartite presidency, can only be held by Serbs, Croats or Bosniak Muslims./IBNA