Embassy Supports Constitutional Equality Effort in Bosnian Canton

The United States Embassy to Bosnia extended support to an effort at granting full constitutional rights to the Serbs in one of the country’s mixed Bosniak-Croat cantons. All citizens should be equal in Bosnia, the Embassy tweeted, commenting on an ongoing political scuffle in the Herzegovina-Neretva Canton over amending the Canton’s highest act to give the Serbs the status of a so-called “constitutive people”, currently granted to the Canton’s Bosniaks and Croats.

The Herzegovina-Neretva Canton assembly will have a session on Tuesday, at which the lawmakers could debate the amendments to the Canton’s constitution that would give the Serbs equal rights. According to a ruling of Bosnia’s Constitutional Court, the country’s three main groups – Bosniaks, Serbs and Croats – are “constitutive” in the entire country. However, some local governments, such as the Herzegovina-Neretva Canton, never amended their founding acts to reflect the ruling.

Earlier this month, the Croat lawmakers in the Canton’s assembly voted against a discussion on the amendments, proposed by a Serb lawmaker in the assembly. Tomislav Martinović of the HDZ BiH, the main Bosnian Croat party, 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.

Bosniak and Serb lawmakers in the Canton’s assembly now push for the amendments to be added to the Tuesday session agenda, but Croatian lawmakers – who make half of the assembly – are against.

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