SARAJEVO, Bosnia-Herzegovina – The EU and the U.S. have welcomed a German-British proposal to move Bosnia closer toward EU membership. It is uncertain, however, whether Bosnia can agree.
EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said in a statement Thursday that the British-German initiative came just in time as "a new spirit is needed to effectively deal with reforms.
The plan calls for postponing action on the thorny issue of minority rights while Bosnia moves ahead with implementing economic reforms, reducing its bureaucracy and strengthening the rule of law. In return, the EU would put the Stabilization and Association Agreement signed in 2008 with Bosnia into effect, moving the nation closer to EU membership and granting it access to European funds.
Bosnia's constitution — part of the peace agreement that ended the 1992-95 war — bars members of minorities from being elected as president or serving in the upper house of the parliament. The provision was intended to guarantee that power was shared among the warring factions: Bosniacs, Serbs and Croats.
Minorities include Jews, Romas, and children of mixed marriages who refuse to declare their membership in one of those groups.
Bosnia's foreign minister, Zlatko Lagumdzija, said the plan was "a new chance for Bosnia."
So far Serbs have prevented any effort to strengthen state institutions as they want more power for their own mini-state, at the expense of Bosnia as a whole.
U.S. State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki welcomed the German-British initiative on Wednesday and said recent elections in Bosnia provide an opportunity "to build a more effective, democratic and prosperous state."