May 4, 2015
Guest blogpost by Vladan Lausevic, member of Alliance of Liberals And Democrats for Europe (ALDE) and student of European Studies at University of Riga.
The EU’s decision to approve Bosnia and Herzegovina to sign the pact for Stability and Association is a step in the right direction. However, without changes in the Bosnian state administration the future membership in the EU is completely unrealistic. In order to join the EU there is need for Bosnia and Herzegovina to first achieve the stability and association within its own borders.
Already during the begging of 2000’s there was a lot of political rhetoric regarding Bosnia and Herzegovina becoming member of EU by the half of 2010. This includes the periods after the war and before the latest crisis within the EU. The current Commission has stated that there would be no enlargement before 2020. This means that BiH has a new opportunity to really aspire for the future membership.
But the main challenges for BiH towards the membership are not in Brussel. The main obstacles are internal and BiH needs to leave behind Dayton step by step. The main purpose of the Dayton agreement was to stop the war and establish the peace. Dayton was not supposed to be practised today and to be a part of obstacles which are preventing BiH from becoming a more functional state.
Today’s Bosnia and Herzegovina is a state with a weak central power which in many cases is not to be accountable for its citizens. As state and society BiH is facing many challenges which could be solved by making reforms for joining the EU as by being the part of the Internal Market, future Energy Union and Schengen Area. And also by sharing European values as democracy, rule of law and civil rights.
Except the strong lack of a civic-society, human rights and the rule of law in BiH, the country is also facing challenges regarding the inter-ethnic hate and the nationalistic rhetoric. For these reasons BiH would benefit in many ways by implementing European values and principles instead of being trapped in nationalistic myths from the 90’s. Bosnia and Herzegovina needs to be able to exercise an authentic foreign, social or economic policy and to have stronger central governance.
For becoming a European member state Bosnia and Herzegovina needs its citizens, democratic and open society instead of constitutent peoples which reminds of the sectarian situation in Lebanon. The Dayton Bosnia is after all not a model or inspiration to other states or societies. Regrettable, BiH represents an anti-modern statehood by being based on war-crimes as genocide, ethnic cleansing and systematic rapes. Regarding important society aspects as the freedom of media, human rights and business atmosphere BiH is often being presented at the bottom of the lists.
Citizens are being promised the new border-line drawings by nationalist politicians instead of focusing on improvement on the quality of life. This rhetoric is totally against EU: s enlargement but also against the peace and the security in Europe. By changing the administration in Bosnia and Herzegovina, for example on the basis of the Swiss canton-model or the Belgian federal order, would send a strong signal to Brussel that BiH is able to proceed with the reforms.
Being a member of EU today is not only important for having a stronger economy. In the time of globalization, the importance also lays in area regarding energy, environment and education. In a more and more globalized world membership in the EU is something that BiH highly needs in order to develop as a state and society. Also the shared values such as democracy, rule of law and civil rights would be preferable for Bosnia and Herzegovina as a young state with the tragic past. That would offer a chance for Bosnia and Herzegovina and its citizens for really aspiring for a better future instead of empty promises of a better past.