Thursday

19th Oct 2017

Bosnia unrest a 'wake-up call' for EU

  • Tear gas canister: Corruption and unemployment in Bosnia have sparked wide-spread protest (Photo: Tilemahos Efthimiadis)

Protests in Bosnia are a “wake-up call” for the European Union, amid the worst civil unrest since end of the 1992-1995 war.

“I think what happened there was a wake-up call for the European Union and to the international community,” UK’s minster for foreign affairs William Hague told reporters in Brussels on Monday (10 February).

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

Hague said there is a need to focus more effort on helping Bosnia towards European Union membership, so that stagnation in Bosnian politics and government can come to an end.

“I think this will become a more important issue over the coming months,” he noted.

Thousands of people have taken to the streets in the sixth day of protests and are demanding the resignation of the government, while local politicians in four cantons have already stepped down.

Two government buildings in Sarajevo were ransacked last week following the closure of a factory in Tuzla, a city with a Muslim majority.

Protests also took root in Croat-dominated cities including Mostar and in the Serb capital Banja Luka. Demonstrations have reportedly spread to some 30 towns.

Rampant corruption, political infighting along ethnic lines, and 40 percent unemployment are said to have pushed people to the edge.

One demonstrator told the New York Times that the biggest fear for the politicians is a united people.

For his part, Sweden’s foreign minister Carl Bildt laid the blame on government infighting and neglect of pressing issues, such as economic reform.

“They spend to much time blaming things on each other instead of actually looking at themselves,” he said.

Asked what the EU could do help, Bildt said the solution to Bosnia’s problems is in the hands of their elected officials: “They need to help themselves. At the end of the day, Bosnia is the responsibility of the elected politicians of Bosnia.”

Meanwhile, the European Parliament’s lead negotiator on Bosnia and Herzegovina, German centre-right Doris Pack, said the lack of interest from the country’s political leaders to consolidate and develop a common state has helped fuel unrest.

The EU granted Bosnia potential candidate status in 2003.

But a European Commission progress report last year on Bosnia found it had made “very limited progress” towards EU membership.

“A shared vision by the political representatives on the overall direction and future of the country, or on how it should function, remains absent,” it noted.

Bosnia’s decentralised government and complex political system involves a three-person presidency shared between Bosnia's Serb, Croat and Muslim Bosniak communities.

The country is divided into two entities, with a Bosniak-Croat Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the Bosnian Serb Republic, or Republika Srpska.

Each has its own president, government, parliament, and police.

Opinion

Bosnia: A new opportunity for getting closer to the EU?

All Bosnian politicians have declared their commitment to European integration. This remains true despite the growing influence of Russia and its anti-EU course following the events in Ukraine.

Opinion

Srebrenica revisited

Twenty years after the massacre, Srebrenica still triggers dispute, and an endless stream of resolutions.

Opinion

EU needs to confront Dodik

Past concessions have merely delayed the day of reckoning with Bosnian Serb separatists.

Court hearing in MEPs 'private' expenses battle

The European parliament claims the media and public do not have a right to supervise or monitor the public role of MEPs, says Natasa Pirc Musar, a lawyer representing journalists, in a transparency battle against the assembly.

News in Brief

  1. Madrid eyes early elections as solution to Catalan crisis
  2. Merkel starts coalition talks to form government by December
  3. Iceland confirms long-standing EU opposition, poll shows
  4. EU summit moved to previous building after fumes scare
  5. Catalonia will 'not back down'
  6. New toxic incident in EU building ahead of summit
  7. Murdered Malta journalist's family invited to Parliament
  8. EU food safety chief denies keeping studies 'secret'

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EU2017EENorth Korea Leaves Europe No Choice, Says Estonian Foreign Minister Sven Mikser
  2. Mission of China to the EUZhang Ming Appointed New Ambassador of the Mission of China to the EU
  3. International Partnership for Human RightsEU Should Seek Concrete Commitments From Azerbaijan at Human Rights Dialogue
  4. European Jewish CongressEJC Calls for New Austrian Government to Exclude Extremist Freedom Party
  5. CES - Silicones EuropeIn Healthcare, Silicones Are the Frontrunner. And That's a Good Thing!
  6. EU2017EEEuropean Space Week 2017 in Tallinn from November 3-9. Register Now!
  7. European Entrepreneurs CEA-PMEMobiliseSME Exchange Programme Open Doors for 400 Companies Across Europe
  8. CECEE-Privacy Regulation – Hands off M2M Communication!
  9. ILGA-EuropeHealth4LGBTI: Reducing Health Inequalities Experienced by LGBTI People
  10. EU2017EEEHealth: A Tool for More Equal Health
  11. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Tourism a Key Driver for Job Creation and Enhanced Competitiveness
  12. CECENon-Harmonised Homologation of Mobile Machinery Costs € 90 Million per Year

Latest News

  1. EU okays Privacy Shield's first year
  2. EU seeks to decrypt messages in new anti-terror plan
  3. EU agencies defend research ahead of glyphosate vote
  4. Spain points at elections as exit to Catalan crisis
  5. How EU can ensure Daphne Caruana Galizia's legacy survives
  6. Juncker dinner to warm up relations with eastern EU
  7. Court hearing in MEPs 'private' expenses battle
  8. The unbearable lightness of leadership