Internal unity crucial to EU future for Bosnia: Germany

27th August 2010, Comments 0 comments

German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said Friday Bosnia Hercegovina could only hope for greater European integration if it resolved its internal divisions and reformed its constitution.

Westerwelle said on the third and final day of a tour of the former Yugoslavia that Bosnia had made major progress since its devastating 1992-1995 civil war but that its "territorial integrity" was crucial.

"Bosnia-Hercegovina clearly has a future in Europe but the road to Europe only goes via internal unity, via internal unification," he told reporters after talks with his Bosnian counterpart Sven Alkalaj.

"Bosnia-Hercegovina only has one European future, not several."

Bosnian Serb Prime Minister Milorad Dodik said this week he is convinced that Bosnian Serbs will eventually secede. He made the comments ahead of October polls and his opponents accuse him of electioneering.

Postwar Bosnia consists of two highly autonomous entities -- the Serb-run Republika Srpska and the Muslim-Croat Federation. Each has its own administration, linked by a weak central government.

Westerwelle, who is also Germany's vice-chancellor, met with the chairman of the Bosnian central council of ministers, Nikola Spiric, a Bosnian Serb, and the Prime Minister of the Muslim-Croat Federation, Mustafa Mujezinovic, late Thursday but Dodik declined to join the talks.

The minister pledged Germany's support for Bosnia to eventually win the right to visa-free travel to the EU for its nationals when it meets the bloc's requirements.

He also urged progress on constitutional reforms in its justice and electoral systems after the October general election and measures to ensure a balance of power between the country's ethnic groups.

The international community and Muslim leaders in Bosnia are trying to strengthen Bosnia's central institutions to make the country easier to govern and boost its chances for European integration.

But this comes at the expense of the far-reaching autonomy of the two entities.

World powers strongly oppose any break-up of Bosnia into ethnic statelets, saying it would reward the bloody campaign of ethnic cleansing led by Bosnian Serbs during the war.

Later Friday Westerwelle was due in Kosovo for political talks and a visit with German soldiers stationed there before he returns to Berlin.

© 2010 AFP

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