Banja Luka-based daily Nezavisne novine reported on Wednesday that for the first time in years, key actors in the international community have agreed to focus on improving the situation in the region of Western Balkans.
Several high-ranking officials and diplomats have reportedly told daily that the European Union, United States, Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and the Office of the High Representative are about to invest serious efforts into making significant progress, especially in the fields of human rights and the rule of law.
According to daily’s sources, competent entity and state-level institutions in Bosnia and Herzegovina will be asked to remove all shortcomings in those fields: for example, according to Nezavisne novine, improvements will be made to the new Law on Public Gatherings in the RS, in cooperation with the EU.
“We would like to see the law on public gatherings focus on human freedoms, not on repressive measures. We understand that repressive measures need to exist, but we are afraid that they are in focus somewhat more than necessary. We have similar objections when it comes to some other laws related to human rights and the rule of law in the other entity and at the level of state. If Bosnia and Herzegovina wants positive opinion about (the EU) membership, those problems need to be resolved”, the source told daily.
Furthermore, the sources confirmed that newly-appointed US Ambassador to Bosnia and Herzegovina Eric Nelson has realized the importance of those measures, so he has made sure that the US Government would provide support to those efforts.
Also, new Principal Deputy High Representative Michael Scanlan will help High Representative Valentin Inzko to have all attention focused on reforms. “Scanlan has already held several meetings with BiH officials at different levels (of authority). He has sent them a very clear message, much clearer than maybe some of them expected. He has excellent knowledge about the region and almost all political actors, and knows what needs to be done”, the source told daily.
The daily also learns that the OSCE and the EU have offered to help local authorities remove controversial provisions from a number of laws, which are believed to represent a serious obstacle to development of the legal state. Local authorities, the daily learns, have been given serious warning that attacks and pressures on journalists will not be tolerated, and that the case of attempted murder of BNTV journalist Vladimir Kovacevic needs to be resolved.
One of the reasons for sudden change in the approach, according to daily, lies in strengthening of Russian and especially Chinese influence in the region. “EU has nothing against international actors competing at the free market. We want free trade. However, Bosnia and Herzegovina needs to adhere to legal, ecological and social standards of the EU if it wants to become a member of the bloc”, an unnamed diplomat told daily.