Bosnian Croat Constitutional Proposals Criticised

Bosnia’s main Croat parties have presented their proposals for constitutional changes to meet EU demands – but a group of non-governmental organizations has deemed them irresponsible.The Croatian Democratic Union, HDZ, one of six ruling parties in Bosnia’s state government, sent its list of proposed amendments to the Bosnian constitution on August 29 to the State Parliament.Borjana Kristo, of the HDZ, on Wednesday said that the proposals they are forwarding together with their sister party, HDZ 1990, are based on the idea of Bosnia as a land of three equal constituent peoples and citizens.

“We think our solutions are good enough for the implementation of the Sejdic and Finci ruling by the European Court of Human Rights,” Kristo said.

She referred to the ruling in December 2009, which urged Bosnia to change its constitution to allow minorities to run for top posts in the government. These are currently reserved to Bosniaks [Mulims], Serbs and Croats.

HDZ 1990 member Martin Raguz said the proposal of the two Croat parties assured Bosnia a European future, as the EU has set an August 31 deadline for the country to resolve the Sejdic-Finci issue.

The proposal was agreed among the two HDZ parties on Monday at a meeting in Mostar.

But a group of non-governmental organizations and individuals, including Dervo Sejdic and Jakob Finci, said the Croat proposals cannot be considered credible.

A coalition of NGOs made up of some 20 organizations analyzed the HDZ-HDZ 1990 document and called the parties irresponsible for sending proposals to parliament which they say are almost identical to those of the Social Democrats, which they have already deemed discriminatory.

“We consider that if this proposal was adopted, it would only deepen discrimination and signficiantly reduce hman rights, furthering the final division of Bosnian society and enshrining ethnic exclusivity… which is absolutely unacceptable,” they said.

The NGOs argue the Croat and SDP proposals would leave ethnically undecided citizens in a position of permanent marginalisation, mainly owing to the idea of the “value of the vote”.

In practice this means that the region in which most Croats live, for example, would choose the majority of Bosnian Croat representatives to the State Parliament.

They have urged state lawmakers not to support the proposals and have called for consistent adherence to EU values, which oppose discrimination and support equality and human rights.

The NGOs say that the public should be aware that such proposals “have nothing to do with solving the Sejdic and Finci ruling”.

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