Sattler: EU not happy about Schmidt's decision but wants it to be respected

NEWS 08.04.202413:11 0 komentara

The EU is not happy about High Representative Christian Schmidt's decision to impose technical changes to Bosnia and Herzegovina's election law but believes that his decision should be respected and implemented, the head of the EU Delegation to BiH, Johann Sattler said.

On March 26, High Representative Schmidt used his powers and imposed changes to the country's election law, which mostly guaranteed a better oversight of the election process and establishment of election results.

He did so after in December 2023 he called on local politicians to themselves agree on and adopt the said rules, which the EU also insisted on so that the country could make progress on its journey to EU membership, however, no agreement was reached.

Schmidt's move was welcomed by Bosniak and civic parties while the Croat HDZ BiH party and the Bosnian Serb ruling parties condemned it, describing it as unnecessary.

Milorad Dodik, President of the Republika Srpska (RS) entity, has said that the entity would pass its own Election Law by April 20 and conduct elections according to it.

Speaking in an interview published by the Sarajevo-based Dnevni Avaz daily on Monday, Sattler said that he believed High Representative Schmidt should use his executive powers only in case of irreparable legislative action, which, he said, the EU did not consider was the case with negotiations on changes to the country's election law.

There was time for local authorities to agree on and amend the election law, Sattler said in a carefully worded criticism of Schmidt's decision, noting that the ruling coalition should have been given another chance to confirm its capacity for compromise, demonstrated earlier when it managed to agree on other disputable laws.

Contrary to the EU, Schmidt's intervention was unequivocally supported by the United States, Great Britain and Germany, while Dodik”s criticism was supported by Russia and Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban.

Sattler stressed though that now there was no going back and that Schmidt's decisions, regardless of what anyone may think of them, should be respected.

We expect all stakeholders to act responsibly and show restraint in the period to come. Threats by the RS leadership against BiH's constitutional order are unacceptable, including those about the entity organising elections on its own, Sattler said, warning that the destructive behaviour Dodik was threatening with would prevent the launching of talks on BiH's accession to the EU, approved by the European Council in March.

BiH is now expected to create technical conditions for the launch of talks and appoint the chief negotiator, and Sattler recalled that the talks would require the country to adopt joint positions and a uniform approach to the EU, which would not be possible with renewed internal political tensions and conflicts.

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