After repeatedly failing to appoint new delegates on time, despite getting an extension, Bosnia and Herzegovina faces suspension from the work of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe.
Bosnia and Herzegovina will be suspended from the work of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, the PACE, for failing to appoint new representatives to that body.
According to the Council of Europe’s Rules, member states must nominate new delegations to the Parliamentary Assembly within six months of the day of an election.
As elections in Bosnia were held in October last year, the deadline to appoint delegates expired in April. The Council of Europe then gave Bosnia an extension. But that expired on Monday with the beginning of the Council’s summer session.
In one last attempt to solve the issue, an urgent session of the House of Peoples of the Bosnian state parliament was scheduled for Monday, on the initiative of the chairman, Bakir Izetbegovic.
However, Serb delegates from the Alliance of the Independent Social Democrats, SNSD, who hold four of the five mandates of Serbian delegates, refused to attend the session, insisting that it had been convened outside procedures.
The House of Peoples has 15 delegates, five from all three constituent peoples in Bosnia – Serbs, Bosniaks and Croats. For a session to be held, at least three representatives from each constituent people must attend.
“The SNSD delegates … concluded that we will not give legitimacy to meetings convened in violation of the Rules of Procedure,” Nikola Spiric, Deputy Speaker of the House of Peoples and an SNSD member, said on Monday.
The SNSD blames the Party of Democratic Action, SDA, the largest Bosniak party, for the post-election deadlock in the country.
“It is evident that the SDA has blocked the election of the new Council of Ministers [state government] and until it unblocks it, there is no chance that the SNSD will work within the Parliamentary Assembly of Bosnia and Herzegovina,” SNSD delegate Dusanka Majkic told the media on Monday.
Four delegates from the strongest Bosnian Croat party, the Croatian Democratic Union, HDZ, did not attend the session as well.
The SDA maintains that the SNSD is the party that is blocking the formation of a new government, and that it is violating both the constitution and the Dayton Peace Agreement that ended the 1992-5 war in Bosnia.
“The work of the Parliamentary Assembly cannot be brought in conjunction with the formation or non-formation of the Council of Ministers,” the SDA’s Adil Osmanovic said on Monday.
“Not coming to the sessions of both Houses, the SNSD is violating the constitution and is trying to condition and blackmail the SDA primarily,” Osmanovic said.
Eight months after the October elections, Bosnia has failed to form the state-level government. The main cause of disagreement is over activating the country’s NATO Membership Action Plan, MAP, an essential step toward Bosnian accession to NATO.
Serb leaders are against membership of the Western military alliance, while Bosniak and Croat politicians support it.
Bosniak leaders refuse to support the SNSD candidate, Zoran Tegeltija, as new Chairman of the Council of Ministers, unless he accepts NATO membership.
On the other hand, Serbian leaders are refusing to work on any other issue until a new Council of Ministers is appointed.
After the 2010 election, a Council of Ministers was not formed for 16 months, but the Bosnian parliamentary delegation was still elected and participated in the work of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe.
The Council of Europe, founded in 1949, has 47 member states, covers approximately 820 million people and operates with an annual budget of approximately 500 million euros.