Tuesday

12th Dec 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.

EU will not start Brexit future talks before March

Transition talks could start in January, and detailed negotiations on the future and trade relations in mid-April, as Brussels awaits for London to say what sort of relationship it wants. Last week's deal is now 'Davis-proofed', one EU official said.

News in Brief

  1. EU bank delays gas pipeline decision
  2. Hungary's leftwing parties join Jobbik in anti-Orban protest
  3. Barnier: EU will not accept UK backtracking on Brexit deal
  4. Puigdemont to return to Catalonia if elected
  5. Commission approves EasyJet partial takeover of Air Berlin
  6. EU medical command centre due next year
  7. Auditors: EU 'green' farm payments fail ecology criteria
  8. Austria gas explosion creates Italian energy 'emergency'

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. ACCACFOs Risk Losing Relevance If They Do Not Embrace Technology
  2. UNICEFMake the Digital World Safer for Children & Increase Access for the Most Disadvantaged
  3. European Jewish CongressWelcomes Recognition of Jerusalem as the Capital of Israel and Calls on EU States to Follow Suit
  4. Mission of China to the EUChina and EU Boost Innovation Cooperation Under Horizon 2020
  5. European Gaming & Betting AssociationJuncker’s "Political" Commission Leaves Gambling Reforms to the Court
  6. AJC Transatlantic InstituteAJC Applauds U.S. Recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s Capital City
  7. EU2017EEEU Telecom Ministers Reached an Agreement on the 5G Roadmap
  8. European Friends of ArmeniaEU-Armenia Relations in the CEPA Era: What's Next?
  9. Mission of China to the EU16+1 Cooperation Injects New Vigour Into China-EU Ties
  10. EPSUEU Blacklist of Tax Havens Is a Sham
  11. EU2017EERole of Culture in Building Cohesive Societies in Europe
  12. ILGA EuropeCongratulations to Austria - Court Overturns Barriers to Equal Marriage

Latest News

  1. Last chance for Poland to return property to its rightful owners
  2. Commission attacks Tusk on 'anti-European' migrant plan
  3. Volkswagen tells EU: we will fail on our recall promise
  4. EU will not start Brexit future talks before March
  5. Bitcoin risky but 'limited phenomenon', says EU
  6. Panama Papers - start of sensible revolution in EU tax affairs?
  7. Lebanon crisis overshadows EU aid for Syrian refugees
  8. New Polish PM brings same old government