Canton’s Bosniak and Croat Lawmakers Disagree over Including Serbs in Constitution

The assembly of a Bosnian canton in which Bosniaks and Croats share power failed to discuss amendments to the local constitution that would give equal rights to the third main group in the country, the Serbs. At a session in Mostar, the lawmakers in the Herzegovina-Neretva Canton split along the ethnic line over amendments to the Canton’s constitution that would say that Serbs are a so-called “constitutive people” together with the Canton’s Bosniaks and Croats.

The “constitutive people” term refers to Bosnia’s three main ethnic groups – Bosniaks, Serbs and Croats.

“Croat lawmakers demonstrated force in the assembly”

Croat lawmakers in the Herzegovina-Neretva Canton assembly, who make half of the local parliament, voted against a discussion on the amendments, proposed by a Serb lawmaker in the assembly. Leader of Bosnian Croat HDZ 1990 party, Ilija Cvitanovic, said in a statement that the party wanted the issue solved by amending the country’s Constitution rather than the Constitution of the Canton. He said that the Bosnian Croat representation in Serb-dominated Republika Srpska entity bodies was under 1% , adding that it would be unreasonable to expect the HDZ 1990 to support “such hypocritical” amendments to the Constitution of a Canton in the Federation entity, dominated by Bosniaks and Croats.

Tomislav Martinović of the other major Bosnian Croat party, the HDZ BiH, told reporters that the Croatian lawmakers were not against including the Serbs in the Constitution, but according to him, the approach was wrong: “(The amendments) would (make the Serbs) constitutive ‘on paper’. Even if (the Constitution was amended), it would not have helped the Canton’s Serbs at all”,  he said.

The proponent of amendments, Vesna Saradzic, said that the Croat lawmakers demonstrated force in the assembly: “I am disheartened personally by the fact that anybody in the 21st century would be in a position to demand (rights) that belong them under God’s and man’s law “.

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