The officials and political leaders expressed moderate to little optimism after the talks on electoral reforms that were held over the weekend in Bosnia's coastal town of Neum, with the mediation of the US and European Union diplomats. Although they all agreed a certain progress has been made, none of them gave a detailed description of the results of the talk.
They said the talks would resume in Sarajevo next week.
Bakir Izetbegovic, the leader of the main Bosniak party SDA, said addressing the media that it seemed at moments the whole work will be done in Neum. According to him, the issues concerning the appointments in the House of Peoples were solved and they were close to an agreement on the Presidency of BiH as well.
“We all put maximum efforts,” Izetbegovic said, adding that he was “pleasantly surprised” by the stance of the opposition NiP, SBB and NES parties.
“We are moving forward. As for the integrity of the process, what will make things more convincing, the fairness of the process itself, we all agreed on that. We have 80 pages of various amendments that we will adopt,” said Izetbegovic.
On the other hand, the leader of the strongest Croat party, the HDZ BiH, Dragan Covic, said his optimism did not “come to the fore.” He thanked everyone for taking part and putting efforts in the talks.
“A certain step forward has been made, some will say that there is a little left. There is a firm ground – for the first time we put specific proposals and initiatives on the table. We gave specific proposals to the Election Law regarding the House of Peoples of the Federation BiH and the State House of People, as well as the Presidency members,” he said.
According to Covic, what matters the most is that all open issues have been clarified and that all proposals are in line with the European standards.
“What next, that's the question,” he noted, announcing new talks in the following days.
If the stances regarding the election in the House of Peoples and the Presidency of BiH are harmonised, everything else will be solved easier, stressed the Croat politician.
“I won't speak about my optimism, it has been wasted over the past year,” said Covic, adding that “we are entering the election process unprepared.”
One of the foreign mediators, US envoy Matthew Palmer, said after the end of the talks it is now up to the Bosnian leaders to reach the final agreement.
“We finalised this round of talks in Neum but we haven't reached the end. The issues we discussed will not be gone. Securing the democratic processes in this country and just election process, which considers responsibility and integrity, is something we aspire to,” Palmer was quoted as saying.
He said he was glad that the political parties made progress in terms of integrity of electoral process, adding that integrity and transparency of the process is something that guarantees success.
EU's representative Angelina Eichhorst stressed it was the primary goal of the talks to get a better understanding of requests for the implementation of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR)'s decisions, in order to eliminate discrimination.
“A significant work has been done,” she was quoted as saying and thanked all the participants of the talks.
“What matters the most is that the talks will resume,” she added.