Incoming High Rep in BiH: It’s time to Stop Fantasies of Border Changes in WB

Member of the Bundestag and incoming High Representative in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Christian Schmidt, said on Saturday (10.07) that it was time for those who fantasize about border changes in the Balkans to stop it and focus on stability.

Schmit took part in the Dubrovnik Forum, a conference of regional and international officials discussing issues concerning the region. He used his address at the Forum to send some direct messages related to Bosnia and Herzegovina.

“If we look at Bosnia and Herzegovina, we will see that it is not about the majority or the minority, but about the three constituent peoples and others”, Schmidt said, referring to the ongoing discussion in Bosnia and Herzegovina about how to change the election law – to have it respect the group rights of the three majority peoples but also to respect the rights of individuals as citizens.

“Today if we looked at Dayton (Peace Agreement) we would have ideas to write some articles differently or to have different options”, he said.

The 1995 constitution contained in the Dayton Peace Agreement that ended the war based elections on the rights of Bosniaks, Serbs and Croats, largely ignoring the rights of minorities who cannot be elected to certain top posts.

“But that’s the way it is. At the same time, it is quite simple for those who have fantasies that it would be good to change the borders”, he said.

“It is time to commit to stability and to treat people as they are”, Schmidt said, referring to decades-long requests by nationalist political representatives to carve up Bosnia and Herzegovina.

“Let’s hope for a post-Trump era”

Speaking about America’s role in the Balkans, Schmidt said he was glad the U.S. administration was back. At the same time, he warned that he did not want BiH to be at the top of the agenda.

“Don’t forget the Americans. They have done a lot for the Western Balkans in key times. Honestly, sometimes probably more than Europeans who took a long time to figure out what needs to be done”, Schmidt said.

He said he was happy to hear the American administration talking about the post-Trump era and that there is a basis of common values ​​but also a common commitment at the political level to preserve the stability and development of the region.

“This should be on the agenda. Someone told me that Bosnia and Herzegovina should be at the top of the agenda, I replied that if BiH is at the top of the agenda, then it is a crisis and news that we do not want to see”, Schmidt said.

The country needs to be put on a political agenda where momentum was lost in recent years, he argued.

“Now we have a way to get it back on the agenda and we have a good chance of success in the coming years”, the future High Representative said.

On Priebe’s report

Schmidt also referred to the issues of the youth in BiH and the rule of law, or the so-called Priebe Report for BiH, named after its creator, legal expert Reinhard Priebe who analyzed the Rule of Law issues in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

“Dayton’s experience must be used, and it will be part of my duties, to transform and translate this towards European integration”, Schmidt said, adding that there needs to be common understanding in the country on the implementation of issues such as the ones defined by the Priebe Report concerning the rule of law.

Along with Schmidt, MEP Zeljana Zovko, EU Special Envoy for Belgrade-Pristina Dialogue Miroslav Lajcak, Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias and BiH Deputy Foreign Minister Josip Brkic spoke at a panel on the Western Balkans region and how it can get out of its COVID-19 quarantine.

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