The Speaker of the House of Representatives of the Parliamentary Assembly of BiH, Mladen Bosić, claimed that BiH needs firmer and better cooperation as well as more talks and negotiations in order to preserve regional peace and stability. Bosić also pointed out the importance of a more determined fight against crime and corruption, and the problem of rising populism, “strong leaders” and undermining democratic institutions. In BiH, organized crime, corruption and money laundering are a major problem. Stronger European support, exchange of experiences and better regional cooperation in the fight against crime, corruption and other deviations that are eroding BiH’s society, according to Bosić, are necessary. Therefore, accession of the country to the European Union would be much more than membership.
President of the Democratic Croat Union (HDZ) of BiH Dragan Čović believes that the agreement on amendments to the BiH Election Law will be reached by May 7, when the General Elections in BiH will be announced. BiH Presidency Member Čović stated that there is little time left to find an agreement and that this amendment is necessary for the state. He further claimed that it is only necessary to uphold the decisions of the Constitutional Court of BiH to change the Electoral Law. He stressed that the attitude of the Croatian People’s Assembly regarding the amendments to the Election Law should change legitimately the representation of Croats in the Presidency of BiH and in the homes of the people. Čović attempted to make an appointment with US Ambassador to BiH Maureen Cormack to discuss the above-mentioned amendments, but they still have not met.
Minister of Security of Bosnia and Herzegovina Dragan Mektić and Head of the Delegation of the European Union and EU Special Representative to BiH Lars-Gunnar Wigemark met to discuss the possible solutions for the establishment of full cooperation between BiH security institutions and EUROPOL. Minister Mektić pointed out that that the stumbling block that prevented a full cooperation has been the lack of agreement between the police agencies on the location of the joint contact point for cooperation with EUROPOL. Another block was provided by the opposition of the Republika Srpska Ministry of Interior to place headquarters in the Directorate for Coordination of the police bodies of BiH. Mektić further stated that BiH can no longer delay the establishment of cooperation with EUROPOL. Indeed, given the existence of a European Center for the Fight Against Terrorism, it is important for BiH security agencies to be able to exchange information. Minister Mektić emphasized that the security of the electoral process and voting must be improved too, in order to reduce the possibilities of manipulation and thereby restore citizens’ confidence in fair and democratic elections.
The Presidency of BiH adopted the Strategy of the Foreign Policy of BiH for the period 2018-2023. This strategy provides guidelines for foreign policy on the basis of changes on a global, regional and local level. The strategy should determine a broad framework and guidelines for the work of relevant institutions of BiH in the domain of foreign policy. The pillars of the foreign policy of BiH are security and stability, economic prosperity, the protection of interests of citizens of BiH abroad and international legal cooperation and promotion of BiH in the world. These are based on the global, regional and local changes, the analysis of the current position of BiH in Europe and the world, as well as on political consensus on the future of BiH in international relations. Full membership in the European Union is one of the main strategic goals of the country. BiH, as a signatory of the Stabilization and Association Agreement (SAA) with the European Union and as a country that submitted a request for membership in the EU and responded to the European Commission’s Questionnaire, is striving to obtain candidate status as soon as possible. The continuation of activities in relation to NATO still represents the priority of BH institutions. Priority activities will be directed towards the activation and implementation of the MAP that will enable all subjects of defense in BiH to continue with activities in relation to NATO.
On June 1st last year, the Constitutional Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina found that certain provisions of the Criminal Procedure Code (CPC) were unconstitutional, and ordered that it be harmonized with the Constitution of BiH and the standards of the European Court of Human Rights within six months. As of today, amendments to the CPC have yet to be adopted. The party Naša Stranka (Our Party), claimed that Parliament’s House of Representatives started dealing with this issue only after the expiration of the deadline. Moreover, the proposals for amendments to the CPC of BiH were sent from several parties, however, none of the proposed amendments was made by a group of experts in the field of criminal law. Naša Stranka believes that in this way the state of Bosnia and Herzegovina has been put in jeopardy, because of the interest of certain parties to not adopt amendments so as to protect themselves from criminal prosecution for corruption. For this reason, Naša Stranka has requested that the Ministry of Justice of BiH reassemble the Criminal Legislation Monitoring Team.
Republika Srpska (RS) President Milorad Dodik sent a letter to the BiH Presidency member Mladen Ivanić, expressing his strong opposition to the manner in which the BiH Foreign Policy Strategy for the period 2018-2023 was adopted. Dodik in the letter stated that Ivanić should not have adopted the document without prior public debate in the relevant institutions of the RS, which degraded the international capacity of the region guaranteed by the Dayton Peace Agreement. According to Dodik, Ivanić ignored and overlooked the institutions of the RS by voting for a harmful document because, allegedly, he did not find it appropriate to inform anyone in the RS about its adoption. Dodik further highlighted that by voting for the mentioned Strategy, the Resolution of the National Assembly of the RS on military neutrality has been tried, by accepting the provisions on NATO integrations of BiH. Dodik reminded that, in order for an organ to approach the drafting of the strategy, it is necessary to first establish the goals of BiH’s foreign policy. Dodik concluded claiming that the foreign policy goals of the RS and the FBiH are not harmonized, and the development of a strategy without a clear goal is complete nonsense.
The head of the SNSD (Alliance of Independent Social Democrats) Deputies Club in the House of Representatives of the Parliamentary Assembly of BiH, Staša Košarac, warned that the Ministry of Security does not take any steps to strengthen the borders of the country and prevent a more certain mass wave of migrants from risky countries that could enter during spring and summer. According to the data possessed by BiH authorities, states Košarac, several thousand migrants will try to come to BiH from Greece, through Albania and Montenegro, a new Balkan route that is becoming more and more active in BiH. He added that Mektić ignored warnings of police services and agencies operating in the Ministry of Security regarding BiH’s lack of capacity to accept a significant number of migrants, and daily deteriorating conditions at immigration centers. Most importantly, Košarac stressed that there are not enough people to control the inaccessible and porous border with Montenegro.
The European Union’s Border and Migration Control Agency Frontex closely monitors the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina, but cannot significantly help. In order to be able to provide full-capacity assistance with a non-EU country, according to the new mandate, Frontex needs to have a bilateral agreement, which is at the moment missing with BiH. If an agreement is reached, Frontex has the right to carry out full-capacity executive operations in countries outside the EU, and this would give it the right to launch a mission to the country and send police officers with executive powers. Considering that there is no such agreement, last year BiH authorities agreed to establish two coordinating points: one at the Sarajevo airport and the other at the border crossing Zupca, near Trebinje.
The recent document about the EU’s enlargement strategy apparently does not contain much mention of Kosovo, according to Pristina press. Kosovo is mentioned only in passages concerning the dialogue with Serbia. The article states that this is a “worse position for Kosovo than before”, and the reason is the presence of different positions in the EU (indeed, 5 members do not recognize Kosovo, such as Spain), but also the lack of progress in Kosovo. The documents focus particularly on Serbia and Montenegro which are “planned to join EU in 2025”, but also on Albania, Macedonia and Bosnia-Herzegovina.