SDA Dismisses Bosnian Croat Entity Discussion

The Party of Democratic Action, SDA, rejected calls for the formation of a third entity, made at the Saturday session of the assembly of Bosnian Croat parties. Such calls were “unacceptable”, the SDA said, referring to a statement issued by the Croatian People’s Assembly, HNS, in Mostar. The SDA – which is headed by the Bosniak member of the national Presidency, Bakir Izetbegovic – said the party would “never accept any constitutional reform that would lead the country into further divisions”, reported BIRN.

Calls by the HNS for a third entity for Bosnian Croats were “unrealistic maximalist demands”, it said, pointing out that Croats make up a smaller proportion of the population than either Bosniaks and Bosnian Serbs. Such calls undermine the country’s constitution, according to the SDA.

“The (main Bosnian Croat party] HDZ obviously does not want anything other than division, and thus we are moving away from institutional solutions that would benefit the Croats. A third entity and ‘administrative-territorial’ reorganization as advocated by the HNS will not be,” said the SDA.

Any Change of Top Court Would Require Amending the Constitution

The EU Special Representative to BiH, Ambassador Lars-Gunnar Wigemark said in Sarajevo that any changes to the BiH Constitutional Court would require amendments to the Constitution of Bosnia and Herzegovina because the role and structure of the Court is defined in the Constitution. Asked about demands to remove international judges from the Constitutional Court, Wigemark said there was no consensus on the issue, which is why such initiatives consume the time and energy that should be used on the reforms. “In my opinion, the issue of the BiH Constitutional Court, or other political issues, would be best addressed through the process of EU integration after receiving a candidate status,” said Wigemark.

Journalist Organization Demands Apology from Sarajevo Hospital Director

The steering board of the BH Journalists organization criticized Sarajevo hospital director for insulting a journalist. The organization said that the Director of the Clinical Center of the Sarajevo University, Sebija Izetbegovic, mocked an Al Jazeera Balkans reporter, Natasa Kovacev, and other reporters at a press-conference organized by Izetbegovic.

“Kovacev exercised her reporter right and asked an entirely legitimate question about the medical staff leaving the Sarajevo Clinical Center in her mother tongue – Serbian. Instead of giving a reasoned and professional response, Director Izetbegovic responded to the question in an ironic way, in (Serbian) dialect, mocking the media interest in what is happening at the Clinical Center in Sarajevo,” said the organization.

The organization demanded an apology from Izetbegovic and urged her to be professional in communication with the media. Also, the organization urged the media and reporters to boycott Izetbegovic until she apologizes to the reporter. In the meantime, the Clinical Center criticized a reporter at Izetbegovic’s press conference who said that Izetbegovic’s response in Serbian was racist.

“The Clinical Center of the Sarajevo University recognizes Bosnian, Serbian and Croatian languages, and we use both Latin and Cyrillic as equal alphabets in BiH. We believe that speaking multiple languages is an asset. In our statements and presentations, the (Clinic) employees speak Bosnian, Croatian, Serbian, English, German and other languages,” said the Clinic.

Bosnian Croat Leader “Positive” There Will Be No Conflict

“I was positive that there would be no war (when former Yugoslavia fell apart in early nineties). Today I am even more positive that there will be no (war), but still I must say that it is not up to us; rather the great powers (will decide). (…) I’m not sure that we are interesting to them, fortunately,” the Croat member of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the leader of HDZ BiH Dragan Covic told Vecernji list daily.

In the regional context, said Covic, the most important thing is to have peace between Serbia and Kosovo. The recent tension, in his opinion, is about the Serbian elections.

“For now, I do not see war potential, But I am sure something (like a war) can be organized. All sorts of protest ‘games’ are being prepared (…) by almost the same actors who did it three years ago,” said Covic.

Biometric Passports Will Not Be Scrapped: Agency

The state Agency for Identification Documents, Registers and Data Exchange (IDDEEA) denied media reports that the biometric passports will be voided and that the visa regime will Schengen zone would be reinstated.
The agency said that the amendment to the regulation on the form, content and
minimum security features of the passport, diplomatic and official passport, adopted in December last year, does not change the elements of protection and degree of safety of the passport and that the citizens of BiH will still be issued biometric passports of the third generation.
“The passport will still have the electronic biometric chip containing all biometric
information. This is the most efficient form of protection against identity theft and falsification, but also the most important safety element of the document,” said the Agency.
The amendment, said the agency, does not change anything significant except that it allows the introduction of other technologies of personalization and open up the possibility for a greater competitiveness and a larger number of bidders during procurement procedures for passport booklets.

Federation Lawmakers Okay Draft Law on Assisted Reproduction

The FBiH Parliament House of Representatives approved by a majority vote the draft law on assisted reproduction. According to the law, the Federation and cantonal health insurance funds will finance treatments for
infertile couples that try to conceive.
The law was procedurally returned to the draft form even though it was suggested under shortened procedure.

Dutch Water Experts Arrive to Launch Long Term Cooperation

During a study tour of the representatives of relevant institutions from BiH
water sector to the Netherlands in October 2016, it was jointly decided to work on the establishment of a long term cooperation between the Bosnia and Herzegovina’s and the Dutch water sectors. Mission of the Water Authority Riverenland in cooperation with the Netherlands Water Partnership started on Monday and will last until Friday 28 January 2017.
In the long run, Dutch experts will provide support to BiH colleagues on technical issues concerning construction, monitoring and maintenance of embankments and other flood protection infrastructure and facilities, flood risk management planning, implementation
of sustainable solutions for urban waste water facilities, financing of the water sector and other issues.
Meetings of Dutch experts with representatives of BiH Ministry of Foreign Trade and Economic Relations, Federal Ministry for Agriculture, Water Management and Forestry, Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Water Management of Republika Srpska,
Sava River Basin Agency Sarajevo, Adriatic Sea Basin Agency Mostar and Public Institution “Vode Srpske” Bijeljina (RS) are planned. Experts will also visit locations of interest of these agencies.
Topics identified for the discussion include: construction, monitoring and maintenance of embankments and other flood protection infrastructure and facilities, flood risk management planning, implementation of sustainable solutions for urban waste water facilities and financing of the water sector. Dutch experts, who will spend this week in BiH, will review the standards and procedures used for monitoring and maintenance of the existing dikes and flood prevention structures in Bosnia and Herzegovina and give recommendations for improvements of those standards and procedures.