Türkiye’s support for Bosnia-Herzegovina’s membership in the European Union and NATO is of vital importance, Zeljko Komsic, the Croat member and current chairperson of the rotating Presidency of Bosnia-Herzegovina said, indicating that he would focus on EU membership if reelected.
The candidate of the coalition between the Democratic Front (DF) and the Popular Unity (GS) for the tripartite Presidency of Bosnia-Herzegovina, Komsic told Anadolu Agency (AA) that all three members view the role of Türkiye and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan as highly important.
"During his visit to Sarajevo at the beginning of September, Erdoğan said that Bosnia and Herzegovina is a small country floating between worlds and that we must fight to keep it on the surface. He is right. Today's Russia-Ukraine War shows this more clearly,” Komsic said.
He added that it is essential that a friend like Türkiye is supporting the country's EU and NATO membership.
Erdoğan was on a three-day Balkan trip earlier this month that included Bosnia-Herzegovina, Serbia and Croatia.
Bosnia-Herzegovina will hold elections on Oct. 2 to choose members of cantons, entity and national parliaments as well as the interethnic Presidency of Bosnia-Herzegovina.
Some 3.3 million people are expected to vote for lawmakers in the country's two autonomous entities – the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Republika Srpska – as well as 10 cantons within the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Also, voters will choose representatives of the Presidency of Bosnia-Herzegovina and national parliament.
A total of nine candidates will compete in the election for the Bosniak, Serb and Croat members of the presidential council.
The Balkans are a priority for Türkiye not only for political, economic and geographical reasons but also for its historical, cultural and human ties with the region.
Türkiye has in recent years ramped up its presence in the Balkans, both politically and economically. Bosniak communities in Bosnia-Herzegovina and Serbia have mainly had close relations with Ankara, while Turkish companies have increased investment in infrastructure projects throughout the region.
Stating that it is too early to talk about a possible coalition, Komsic said, "If I am re-elected as a Croatian member of the Presidential Council, the process regarding the current electoral law reform will continue. In parallel, Brussels is optimistic about granting candidate country status to Bosnia and Herzegovina. We will focus on this."
Komsic said the tension and excitement have increased ahead of the Sunday elections and added: "The DF has candidates for every political level in the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina (FBIH). We support the bloc which he hope will gain more seats in the parliament of the other entity Republika Srpska (RS).”
Stating that they are conducting an election campaign aimed at making Bosnia-Herzegovina a "people's" country, Komsic said, "Of course, we will work to achieve these goals after the elections."
Chaos looms once again in Bosnia-Herzegovina following the claims that the high representative for the country, Christian Schmidt, tasked with overseeing a 1995 peace agreement, has been planning to impose an amendment to the election law for the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Schmidt's plan to reportedly impose an election law without the consent of the politicians led to protests across the country.
The threat prompted the political leaders of the country’s three main ethnic groups – Bosniaks, Serbs and Croats – to accuse Schmidt of planning changes that would undermine their constituencies.
Speaking on the incident, Komsic said: “Unfortunately, these have become standard things in our politics. In other countries, this would be scandalous, resignations would be made, but in this pre-election atmosphere it will remain only a scratch.”
Saying that Schmidt wanted to "impose" a new electoral law in the country, but that protests in Sarajevo prevented this, Komsic added: "Citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina oppose anything that would cause division. They already live in a sufficiently divided country."
The U.S.-brokered Dayton Agreement that ended Bosnia’s brutal 1992-95 interethnic war gave broad powers to the high representative, including imposing laws and dismissing officials and civil servants who undermine the country's fragile post-war ethnic balance.
Amending the country’s constitution and voting laws have been under discussion in Bosnia-Herzegovina since 2009 when the European Court of Human Rights condemned the country for barring ethnic minorities from running for the highest offices in government. So far, no changes have been made.
The peace agreement established two separate governing entities in the country – one run by Bosnia’s Serbs and another one dominated by Bosniaks, who are mostly Muslims, and Croats.
The two entities are linked by joint institutions and all actions taken at a national level must be reached by consensus of the three ethnic groups.
Bosnia-Herzegovina's constitution, which was part of the Dayton Agreement, and its electoral law currently state that only members of the three main ethnic groups are eligible to stand for election to either the shared presidency or the upper house of the central parliament. Members of ethnic minorities that have existed in the country for centuries can't run for those offices unless they identify with one of the main groups.
Instead of changing the law and the constitution, the nationalist leaders of the country’s main ethnic communities have been using the process to further stoke ethnic divisions, demand special protections for their peoples and blame each other for trying to disenfranchise members of other groups.