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Procedure : 2010/2734(RSP)
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Document selected : B7-0342/2010

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PV 16/06/2010 - 15
CRE 16/06/2010 - 15

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PV 17/06/2010 - 7.14
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Thursday, 17 June 2010 - Strasbourg
Bosnia and Herzegovina

European Parliament resolution of 17 June 2010 on the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA) between the European Communities and their Member States, on the one part, and Bosnia and Herzegovina, on the other part, signed on 16 June 2008,

–  having regard to the Council Regulation (EC) No 1244/2009(1) of 30 November 2009 on visa liberalization,

–  having regard to the conclusions of the Council of 16 June 2003 on the Western Balkans as well as of 30 November 2009 on Bosnia and Herzegovina,

–  having regard to the conclusions of the General Affairs and External Relations Council of 16 June 2003 on the Western Balkans and to the annex thereto entitled ‘The Thessaloniki Agenda for the Western Balkans: moving towards European integration’, which was endorsed by the Thessaloniki European Council of 19 and 20 June 2003,

–  having regard to the Grand Chamber decision of the European Court of Human Rights in Sejdic and Finci vs Bosnia and Herzegovina (application nos. 27996/06 and 34836/06) of 22 December 2009,

–  having regard to its resolution of 24 April 2009 on the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina(2),

–  having regard to its resolution of 15 January 2009 on Srebrenica(3),

–  having regard to Rule 110(2) of its Rules of Procedure,

A.  whereas the EU has repeatedly reaffirmed its commitment for EU membership of the Western Balkan countries, including Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH); whereas, however, the primary responsibility for accession lies with these countries and their ability and determination to fulfil the Copenhagen criteria,

B.  whereas BiH is passing through a lengthy period of political, economic and social stagnation with widespread and persistent political paralysis, the deterioration of inter-ethnic relations caused by political rhetoric and the unwillingness and inability of its political elite to reach compromises and a shared common vision on the country's pressing political, economic and social problems,

C.  whereas the increasingly strident nationalistic and secessionist rhetoric is in sharp contrast to basic European values, social and economic development and political stability, is detrimental to the general interest of the country, obstructs inter-ethnic reconciliation and is hindering the country's ambitions for EU membership; whereas BiH is risking to falling further behind the other Western Balkans countries missing the opportunities of European integration,

D.  whereas the Dayton Agreements were necessary to stop the bloodshed but they failed to create a self-sustainable and functional state of BiH; whereas the fragmentation of the policy-making process between State and Entities they created, as well as the overlapping competences and lack of the harmonization of law-making among the different layers of governance, remain the main obstacle to an efficient government work, hindering also the country's capacity to make rapid progress in reforms towards EU membership,

E.  whereas constitutional reform remains the key reform to transform BiH into an effective and fully functional state; whereas the complex structure of the judiciary, the lack of a single budget, the absence of a Supreme Court for BiH, which could foster the harmonization among the four internal jurisdictions, political interference in the judicial system and constant challenges to the jurisdiction and the competences of the State-level judicial agencies by the government of the Republika Srpska (RS), undermine the functioning of the judiciary and hamper reform efforts; whereas the entity structures - as inherited by international decisions - should be changed so as to become more efficient and coherent with the state institutional framework,

F.  whereas the European future of all citizens of the country lies in the European Union; whereas the prospect of EU membership is one of the most unifying factors amongst the people of BiH; whereas BiH only as a single country has the prospect of EU membership and any attempts to undermine and weaken the State institutions, to take the society hostage to irresponsible nationalistic and secessionist politics will deprive all citizens to gain the benefits of European integration; whereas Bosnia and Herzegovina has made limited progress on reforms related to the EU integration processes; whereas the prevailing ethnic and entity agendas can hamper the fulfilment of requirements for EU and NATO membership,

G.  whereas the Council and the Commission have to demonstrate more leadership and capacity to be the driving force behind initiating and implementing further reforms,

H.  whereas a premature closure of the Office of the High Representative (OHR), based on the legitimate desire to increase local ownership of the political process, could have an impact on the stability of the country and on the pace and outcome of the much-needed reforms; whereas the transition from the OHR to a reinforced EU Special Representative remains an indispensable step, paving the way for candidate status,

I.  whereas BiH is to be congratulated on becoming a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council for the period 2010-2011, which shows that the country is capable to take a full and responsible place in international affairs,

J.  whereas those in positions of political responsibility in BiH have not adequately ensured justice and reparation for thousands of women and girls who were raped during the 1992-95 war, since the number of cases of sexual war crimes which have resulted in a prosecution remains exceptionally low, and whereas victims have often not been treated with dignity and respect or given sufficient protection, psychological and material support to rebuild their lives,

K.  whereas 11 July 2010 will be the 15th anniversary of the Srebrenica-Potočari act of genocide,

L.  whereas Annex VII of the Dayton Peace Agreement has still not been fully implemented; whereas there remains the need for fair, comprehensive and durable solutions for some of the 115 000 internally displaced people, for refugees and other conflict affected persons as well as to make progress in improving the socio-economic integration of those who have returned; whereas, according to the International Committee of the Red Cross, there are still 10 000 missing people after the end of the war whose fate remains unknown,

M.  whereas the Commission put forward a legislative proposal on visa liberalisation for BiH on 27 May 2010 (COM(2010)0256) which formally opens the way for a possible liberalisation in 2010,

N.  whereas France, Italy and Luxembourg have not yet ratified the SAA thus delaying the European integration process of the country,

O.  whereas the persistence of strong ethnic divisions should be overcome by a more integrated, non-segregationist, modern education system in the country,

P.  whereas a lack of genuine endeavour by BiH authorities to efficiently tackle corruption in the country is seriously plaguing the economic, social and political development of the country,

Q.  whereas the trafficking in human beings is a serious crime and a gross violation of human rights; whereas BiH is a country of origin as well as, to a lesser extent, a country of transit and destination for trafficking in human beings, especially women and girls,

R.  whereas the State and Entity Constitutions guarantee equal treatment for all people; whereas Roma continue to face very difficult living conditions and discrimination; whereas discrimination and social exclusion based on gender identity and sexual orientation are widespread; whereas physical attacks, ill-treatment and acts of intimidation against these groups have continued,

S.  whereas unemployment remains very high and has increased due to the economic crisis; whereas lack of job perspectives, especially amongst young people, are hindering the progress of the country, contributing to political tensions; whereas economic prosperity is crucial for the further development of the country and reconciliation in Bosnia and Herzegovina,

The European perspective

1.  Expresses its dissatisfaction over the limited progress achieved by BiH as a potential candidate country on its path towards stabilisation and development, and as a potential candidate country for EU membership; notes with growing concern the unstable political climate and the lack of a common vision shared by all political forces, and strongly condemns the use of inflammatory language, which undermines the process of inter-ethnic reconciliation and the functioning of State structures; regards the statement of the leadership of Republika Srpska about a referendum on ‘'peaceful separation'’ as a provocation and a threat to the stability, sovereignty and territorial integrity of BiH;

2.  Urges a call for halt of divisive nationalistic and secessionist rhetoric that polarizes the society and undermines the basic core of the Dayton Peace Agreement, to seriously engage and reach lasting agreements that will create a properly functioning state, will equip BiH institutions for EU integration and will improve the country's overall situation;

3.  Recalls that joining the European Union means accepting the values and rules on which the EU is based, namely respect for human rights, including the rights of persons belonging to national minorities, solidarity, tolerance, democracy and the rule of law including respect for the independence of the judiciary;

4.  Invites the Vice-President/High Representative (VP/HR) and the Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy to use the EU's full leverage on BiH politicians so that they engage in more concerted efforts to meet the European Partnership requirements and all obligations stemming from the SAA; reminds all political actors that these two documents are the roadmap towards EU integration and that it is their responsibility vis-à-vis the citizens to reach compromises and agree on reforms; encourages the VP/HR and the Commission to a more consistent and result-oriented use of EU conditionality to meet the real needs of the peoples of BiH;

5.  Signals strong support to the OHR and underlines that the transition can only be completed once the 5 objectives and 2 conditions are met in full by the BiH authorities; urges the RS authorities to fulfil the remaining obligation (the RS Law on Electricity) to allow the Brcko Supervisor to recommend the closure of the supervisory regime in the Brcko District;

6.  Urges the RS Government to continue to actively participate in the negotiations on the apportionment of the state property listed by the OHR and calls them on not to adopt legislation on public property in the RS since this would present a serious violation of the High Representative's decision to ban the sale of public property, thereby delaying the closure of the OHR;

7.  Welcomes the adoption of the constitutional amendment that establishes the Brčko District as a unit of local self-governance, thus fulfilling another objective set by the Peace Implementation Council (PIC) for the future closure of the Office of the High Representative;

8.  Calls on the two Entities and all political forces, in particular the RS Government, to respect the Dayton Peace Agreement in its entirety and not challenge actions undertaken on the basis of this agreement and UN Security Council resolutions; considers that the High Representative is the final authority regarding the interpretation of the civilian implementation of the peace settlement; calls on all the political actors to treat with due respect the High Representative and all the international staff in the country and to refrain from any personal attacks;

9.  Notes with satisfaction the significant contribution of the European Union Police Mission (EUPM) and EUFOR Althea to the stability and security of BiH; welcomes the Council decision to provide non-executive capacity building and training support; welcomes the extension of the EUFOR mandate according to the UN Security Council resolution 1895; welcomes the fact that BiH was invited by NATO to join the Membership Action Plan;

10.  Stresses the accomplishments of the EUPM in contributing to the fight against organised crime and corruption by the BiH law enforcement agencies and judiciary; welcomes the extension of the mission for another two years with a refocused mandate and the work of the Commission to prepare for a follow-up project to EUPM under the Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance 2010;

11.  Invites the EU and its Member States to counteract the indifference of large parts of the political establishment by establishing privileged partnership and providing support to civil society, independent media and the business community and to set up projects to stimulate active political participation, especially for young Bosnians;

12.  Emphasises that the freedom and independence of the media, both public and private, are basic democratic requirements; calls on the BiH authorities to strengthen independent and diverse media free of political interference and allow the media to report freely from all parts of the country by ensuring access to information; condemns sharply attacks on journalists and calls on the competent authorities to take appropriate measures to avoid such attacks in the future; calls on the media, including public broadcasting services, for zero tolerance towards hate speech; stresses the need for the political independence of the regulatory authorities in the communications field; urges the Council of Ministers to appoint a permanent director of the communications authority;

Constitutional reform and the reform of the judiciary

13.  Reiterates its position on the requirements that should be achieved through constitutional reform:

   (a) The State should have sufficient legislative, budgetary, executive and judicial powers in order to be capable of meeting the EU accession criteria, to establish and maintain a functional single economic space, to promote economic, environmental and social cohesion and to represent and defend the overall interests of the country abroad; the safeguarding of vital national interests within BiH must be compatible with the country's capacity to act,
   (b) The number of administrative levels involved in managing the country should be proportional to BiH's financial resources and should be based on an efficient, coherent and effective allocation of responsibilities,
   (c) All citizens must enjoy the same rights without any discrimination in full compliance with the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) and with Article 2. of the SAA requiring respect for democratic principles and human rights,
   (d) Takes the view that special attention should be given to the rights of minorities and vulnerable groups, which should be protected against direct or indirect discrimination and violence; encourages Bosnia and Herzegovina to implement public education programmes in the area of human rights which promote the values of tolerance, pluralism and diversity;

14.  Recalls that strengthening the central State does not mean weakening the Entities but creating the conditions based on the principle of subsidiarity for an efficient administration capable of implementing national reform efforts, conducting efficient international relations and, by doing so, preparing the entire country for EU accession;

15.  Calls on BiH authorities to amend, within the comprehensive constitutional reform, the relevant constitutional provisions and respective provisions in the BiH Electoral Law as soon as possible in order to comply with the ECHR ruling in the Sejdić-Finci case, which clearly indicates that the current BiH constitution discriminates against people referred to as ‘others’; notes that the adoption of these reforms is an essential step to a functioning multiethnic society;

16.  Encourages the citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina to vote at the forthcoming general elections in October 2010; considers that this election is also about the pace at which BiH moves towards the EU and anyone who chooses not to vote is effectively allowing others to decide about his or her future; points out that all efforts must be made so as to lay down the conditions for the forthcoming elections to take place in full respect of European standards and in a peaceful and democratic campaign;

17.  Reminds on the need to establish a Supreme Court at State-level and anchor it into the constitutional framework so as that it acts as an integrating factor for the jurisprudence in the country and provides for the gradual harmonization of BiH's four different legal systems;

18.  Calls on all political actors to enact the 69 activities foreseen in the supporting action plan to the Justice Sector Reform Strategy;

Fighting war crimes, organized crime and corruption

19.  Welcomes that the cooperation with the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) has continued to be satisfactory and the cooperation between the Tribunal and the State and Entity authorities was adequate; stresses the need to continue to fulfil the obligations and to facilitate the arrest of all ICTY indictees and to dismantle their support networks; calls for more effective cooperation between police authorities in Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina in order to find and arrest Ratko Mladić and Goran Hadžić; urges the BiH authorities to speed up the implementation of the National War Crime Strategy and start tackling the backlog of some ten thousand war crimes cases across the country as well as specify the material and technical resources needed to try all perpetrators including those responsible for rape and sexual violence;

20.  Recalls that the 11 July is recognised as the day of commemoration of the Srebrenica genocide in the EU and calls on all the countries of the region to do the same; welcomes the adoption of various resolutions on Srebrenica by parliaments of four Western Balkan countries, in particular by the National Assembly of the Republic of Serbia, and calls on the Bosnian State and Entity Parliaments to adopt similar resolutions in the near future; considers these declarations as important steps to come to terms with the tragic past of the region and hopes that they pave the way for an understanding of the common history with a view to promoting a genuine reconciliation in the whole region; stresses that bringing to justice those responsible for the genocide in and around Srebrenica is an important step towards regional stability and peace;

21.  Calls on the BiH authorities to include a definition of sexual violence in the Criminal Code in line with international standards, provide the victims directly with adequate reparation, economic, social and psychological support, including the highest attainable mental and physical health support services, develop programmes and allocate adequate resources for long-term protection of witnesses; stresses in this connection the need to improve coordination between the various judicial organs and to speed up prosecution procedures in cases of sexual war crimes committed during the war; calls on the Commission and other international donors to support the BiH authorities in this endeavour with financial resources and expertise targeting the victims of war crimes of sexual violence; calls on the BiH authorities to adopt and implement a strategy targeting the victims of war crimes of sexual violence with highest priority;

22.  Calls on the EU and its Member States to initiate criminal investigation against wartime sexual offenders who have immigrated and received permanent residence, including citizenship in Member States, and to acknowledge that such crimes are in fact war crimes and that they should not be treated as general sexual offences and should not be a subject to statue of limitations;

23.  Calls on the BiH authorities to promote and complete sustainable return of refugees and internally displaced persons as well as adopt a relevant strategy as required by Annex VII of the Dayton Peace Agreement; encourages to address, on the one hand, the needs of those still living in collective centres and implement measures for their social integration and, on the other, promote the return of those who can not return to their homeland, for example to the devastated area of Posavina; calls on the Commission and other international donors to support the BiH authorities in these efforts with financial aid and expertise;

24.  Reminds on the urgent need to build high-security state prisons and to reconstruct existing facilities also in order to detain all indicted and convicted criminals safely;

25.  Regrets the limited progress in fighting corruption due to the weak coordination of anti-corruption efforts at State level and the lack of effective investigation and prosecution of suspects of high-level cases of corruption prevailing in government and other State and Entity structures, public procurement procedures, business licensing and in the health, energy, transportation and construction sectors; calls, in this respect, for the setting up without delay of an impartial and accountable anti-corruption body to restore faith of BiH citizens in their institutions, as well as for the concerted implementation of the new strategy for the fight against corruption (2009-2014) and the accompanying Action Plan;

26.  Calls on the BiH authorities to effectively combat human trafficking, effectively persecute perpetrators in cooperation with the international community, provide protection and compensation to the victims and raise awareness to prevent revictimazation by authorities and society;

Visa liberalisation

27.  Notes with satisfaction that the BiH authorities have accelerated their reforms and made significant progress in meeting the outstanding benchmarks contained in the roadmap for a visa-free regime, which demonstrates that with the necessary will significant progress in reforms can be achieved; strongly encourages the BiH authorities to adopt the remaining pieces of relevant legislation;

28.  Welcomes the Commission's above-mentioned legislative proposal of 27 May 2010 on visa liberalisation and calls on the Commission to verify that the remaining benchmarks are met in the coming months, with the aim of clearing the way for the Council and Parliament to approve introduction of the visa waiver for Bosnian citizens by the end of 2010;

29.  Recognizes the importance of visa liberalisation for all BiH citizens to be able to travel within the EU, sees it as an important factor for further EU integration and inter-ethnic reconciliation, preventing isolation and offering a chance for citizens to broaden their horizons, envisaging their perspective of EU membership and voice their will to the political leaders in order to foster EU integration;

The situation of the education system

30.  While recognizing the progress made at the institutional level, urges the BiH authorities to adopt the Law on Higher Education at the State level and to focus on the full implementation of the framework laws in the field of education, thereby reducing the fragmentation of the educational system; by making full use of the European Partnership, take measures to improve the overall quality of education meeting the needs of the labour market and the standards of the Bologna process as well as install schemes, with EU assistance, for training and re-skilling of persons faced with long-term unemployment; encourages the implementation of international student exchange programmes between all BiH universities and EU Member States, by making use of existing EU programmes and networks; stresses the need for a significant increase in the numbers of students, teachers and researchers participating in EU mobility programmes;

31.  Points out that education is a primary vehicle for genuine inter-ethnic reconciliation; considers that, in the context of EU assistance, increased attention should be paid to promoting an inclusive, non-discriminatory education system, based on tolerance and respect for diversity and on efforts to reach an understanding of the common history, and eliminating the segregation of different ethnic groups (two schools under one roof) by developing common education programmes and integrated classes in both entities; welcomes, in this regard, the establishment of a BiH-wide school students council;

32.  Calls on BiH authorities to re-visit the current rigid and costly methods of diploma nostrification and establish an agency for diploma recognition on the State level; reminds BiH authorities that skilled labour force should be encouraged, rather than discouraged to seek employment in the country;

Economic situation, social policy

33.  Welcomes the last round of evaluation of MONEYVAL(4); calls on all actors to pursue persistent economic reform efforts, take concerted actions of jurisdictions and facilitate economic activities including the removal of bureaucratic barriers, create a long term strategy for sustainable development through addressing inter alia education, research and development (R&D), infrastructure, agriculture, environment and energy; with the aim to attract foreign investment, encourages state and business leaders to pursue all efforts to restore investors' confidence and to create a business friendly environment in order for BiH not to fall further behind the region;

34.  Reminds on that the SAA requires the strengthening of economic policy coordination between the entity governments and the creation of, as an essential element of economic reform, a single economic space aimed at further internal integration as well as better land and labour markets; regrets in this regard that the fragmented internal labour legislation and social security systems remain the main obstacle for the free movement of persons within the country; states that economic prosperity, the prospect of jobs, especially for the young Bosnian and Herzegovinians is crucial for the further development of the country and can foster inter-ethnic reconciliation;

35.  Encourages the strengthening of fiscal coordination by ensuring the proper functioning of the Indirect Taxation Authority and the National Fiscal Council; urges the Council of Ministers to appoint, after a long delay, a permanent Director to the Indirect Taxation Authority;

36.  Urges the BiH Parliament, in view of being able to conduct a nation-wide census in 2011, to adopt as a matter of urgency the Law on Census, which is a clear precondition for the prospect of European accession and is essential for the country's economic and social development as well as continued EU assistance; stresses that, due to the sensitivity of the matter, it should not be compulsory to answer any questions concerning ethnicity;

37.  Invites the BiH authorities to put in place measures aimed at mitigating poverty and developing a social safety net that is better targeting the poor, the socially excluded and the vulnerable groups, especially the Roma, and to develop an efficient and sustainable social protection and integration system; calls on the BiH authorities to make a firmer commitment to employment policies, social cohesion and gender equality;

38.  Welcomes the initiatives by BiH authorities to improve the situation of Roma, and reaffirms the importance of adopting a strategy focusing on housing, healthcare, employment and education of Roma; calls on the authorities to provide adequate means to implement this strategy in cooperation with civil society including the Roma community, to combat discrimination and foster Roma representation in public offices;

39.  Welcomes the most recent legislative amendments by the Federation Parliament introducing the principle of needs-based social cash benefits and the budgetary restraints applied to all budget users including veterans; welcomes the fact that the development policy loan of the World Bank and the second and third tranche of the IMF's stand-by arrangement have been disbursed; encourages the Federation Parliament to adopt further measures aimed at more fiscal discipline;

40.  Urges BiH authorities to develop a national energy strategy which relies on renewable energy sources, energy conservation and efficiency as well as the modernisation of the electric grid; reminds both the BiH authorities and the Commission to ensure that hydroelectric power plants projects are planned and implemented in line with EU criteria of environmental impact assessment and overall standards of sustainability;

41.  Regrets that the administrative capacity in the environment sector remains weak and limited; calls, in this regard, for the adoption of a State-level comprehensive Environmental Law that ensures harmonized environmental protection and for the establishment of the State Environment Agency;

42.  Calls on the BiH authorities to adopt the Law on Health Insurance on the State level, in order to harmonise and improve the quality of public health provision and enable the people to seek the adequate medical treatment on the whole territory of BiH, regardless of their residence and place of employment;

Regional cooperation

43.  Underlines the importance of regional cooperation, and good-neighbourly relations, and considers them a vital element of the reconciliation process by enhancing people-to-people contacts; stresses the crucial role of civil society actors in contributing to enhanced regional cooperation on social and political aspects; calls on the Bosnian authorities to find a solution that ensures the regional mobility of citizens of Kosovo and the possibility to travel to Bosnia and Herzegovina;

44.  Applauds recent statements by the Croatian President, who apologised for Croatian policies in Bosnia and Herzegovina in the 1990s and honoured victims from each community; considers this gesture to be an important step in the promotion of ethnic reconciliation among the Balkan nations; calls on the other neighbouring countries of Bosnia and Herzegovina to follow this example;

45.  Calls on Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina to find a negotiated solution with regard to the Croatian construction plans for Pelješac bridge, to which Bosnia and Herzegovina is opposed; is concerned about the Croatian Prime Minister's recent announcement on the possible Croatian application for European funds to speed up the controversial construction work on this bridge; points out that the project could harm the future development of the Bosnian harbour of Neum and raises ecological concerns in both countries;

46.  Notes that durable stability and regional cooperation in the Western Balkans and the whole EU can not be envisaged as long as political stalemate in BiH persists;

47.  Commends BiH's active participation in regional cooperation, in particular for the signing with Croatia and Serbia of the agreements on international legal aid in criminal and civil matters which aims at the execution of criminal sanctions against persons who were convicted in one signatory country and then escaped to another;

o   o

48.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Vice-President/High Representative, the Council, the Commission and the governments and parliaments of Bosnia and Herzegovina and its entities.

(1) OJ L 336, 18.12.2009, p. 1.
(2) Texts adopted, P6_TA(2009)0332.
(3) OJ C 46 E, 24.2.2010, p. 111.
(4) Committee of Experts on the Evaluation of Anti-Money Laundering Measures and the Financing of Terrorism (Council of Europe).

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