Bosnia: Constitutional talks end in deadlock

Sarajevo, 21 October (AKI) – The talks on constitutional changes of leaders of Bosnia’s main political parties with the United States and European Union representatives ended in another deadlock on Wednesday, but might resume in November, participants said.

Swedish foreign minister Carl Bildt, whose country currently presides over the EU, said that progress was made, because all participants stated their nation’s main aim of obtaining EU and NATO membership.

But he said politicians haven’t fulfilled the preconditions set by the EU, including constitutional changes which would make Bosnia a functional state. “Bosnia-Herzegovina cannot get a free ticket to Europe,” he said.

The leaders of Bosnia’s seven parties which participated in the meting, however, described the talks as a failure. Bosnian Serb leader Milorad Dodik said the constitutional package was unacceptable, because it would erode the Dayton peace accord that ended the 1992-1995 civil war.

According to the Dayton agreement, Bosnia was divided into two entities, with most state powers, a Muslim-Croat federation and a Serb entity Republika Srpska (RS). The international community has gradually stripped the entities of some powers and the US-EU proposal would further weaken their powers.

Dodik said he spoke with Russian president Dmitry Medvedev in Belgrade Tuesday and got assurances that the Dayton accord cannot be changed without consent of all three ethnic groups in Bosnia.

Bosnia’s Croat leaders have said the proposed package didn’t meet the expectations and needs of Croats in Bosnia, while the Muslim majority was only partly satisfied. They demanded that even more power be taken from the entities and handed over to central government.

All participants agreed that the Sarajevo talks were “just a beginning” and decided to meet again on 18 November.

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