Christian Schmidt, the new high representative in Bosnia and Herzegovina, officially assumed his duties on Aug. 1 and held meetings in Sarajevo on his first day in office.

 

Schmidt first sat down with Sarajevo Mayor Banjamina Karić, who wished him welcome and success in his mission in Bosnia. Schmidt also spoke with U.S. Ambassador to Bosnia Eric Nelson.

Ahead of his arrival, Schmidt said Bosnia's bid to join the European Union and its transformation into a democratic country required there being no ethnic orientation. He also pointed out that violations of territorial integrity in the Balkans were unsustainable.

Commenting on his predecessor Valentin Inzko's decision to impose legislation banning the denial of genocide, Schmidt said that if he had read the EU's guidelines correctly, the EU required just such a law, which he described as ethnically neutral.

Schmidt elaborated that the issue was not whether it was a Croat or a Serb, but if someone had acted in such a way that causes guilt. He went on to say that this question would open the way to the EU, explaining that it could not be removed from the agenda.

Inzko: Bosnia will not fall apart

Valentin Inzko, who is stepping down as high representative to Bosnia and Herzegovina after 12 years, has said that the Balkan country will not fall apart.

Commenting on announcements by Milorad Dodik, the Serb member of the Bosnian triumvirate Presidency, on the possibility of dissolving Bosnia and Herzegovina in response to Inzko's imposed legislation banning the denial of genocide, Inzko said nothing like that would happen.

"Dodik knows full well that is not going to happen, and he also knows that the entities are not entitled to secession from [Bosnia] and that their legal standing is soley based on the Constitution" of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Inzko told the July 31 issue of the Sarajevo daily Avaz in an interview.

Speaking on the imposed legislation, Inzko reiterated that there "is no collective guilt, no bad peoples" and that the purpose of his decision was to resolve the lack of a legal framework that would provide an adequate response to the issue of hate speech, manifested in the denial of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.

Republika Srpska Assembly rejects genocide denial ban

Republika Srpska's assembly passed on July 30 a new law, rejecting High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina Valentin Inzko's decision to impose a law on banning the denial of genocide and war crimes in Bosnia.

The new law has three articles which say that the amendments to the Criminal Code of Bosnia and Herzegovina, which Inzko imposed, will not apply in RS, and that the Bosnian Serb entity's authorities would not cooperate with the corresponding bodies in Bosnia in implementing the genocide denial law.

The assembly also passed amendments to the Bosnian Criminal Code, prescribing prison sentences of up to 15 years for anyone who calls Republika Srpska a genocidal aggressor or the Serb people genocidal.

Seventy-three out of 83 MPs attended the assembly's special session of whom 70 supported the new legislation. Three members of the Coalition for Bosnia and Herzegovina, which consists of political groups headquartered in the Muslim-Croat Federation, voted against it. The session was attended by the presidents of Republika Srpska's parliamentary political parties.

Source: EURACTIV.rs / Betabriefing

Photo: Beta