EU urges ethnic cleansing-hit Bosnia for census law

Bosnia must pass a national census law or risk a new setback in building closer ties with EU, a senior EU official said.

EU urges ethnic cleansing-hit Bosnia for census law

 

Bosnia must pass a national census law or risk a new setback in building closer ties with the European Union, a senior EU official said on Tuesday, a day before parliament was to vote on the disputed bill.

"We appeal to all those who will have to vote for this law to make sure it is approved," Pierre Mirel, the head of the European Commission's Western Balkans directorate, told reporters.

The law on the first post-war census is a sensitive issue in Bosnia. Ethnic and religious divides that were at the heart of its devastating 1992-95 war still plague the country as it tries to attract investment and make progress towards joining the EU.

The war of Bosnian Serbs in Balkan country killed at least 100,000 people, majority were Muslims, and more than two million homeless.

Bosnian Muslims oppose anyone stating their ethnicity, religion and language in the census, arguing it would cement the results of ethnic cleansing following a massive exodus of Muslims and Croats during and after the war. The Serbs say that such entries in the census represent a basic human right.

"If the law was not passed, then Bosnia and Herzegovina will be the only country in the region without the census, and that would be an obstacle for the dialogue with the EU and the pre-accession process," Mirel said.

Bosnia is already at the back of the queue of Western Balkans EU hopefuls. All the others -- Albania, Croatia, Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia -- have applied for membership, with Croatia hoping to conclude its entry talks this year.

The law, which must also be approved by parliament's upper house, would allow for the first census in the Balkan country since it declared independence from Yugoslavia in 1992, a year after the last official census.

Bosnia signed a Stabilisation and Association Agreement with the EU in 2008, the first step towards full membership. But political bickering between its constituent parts, the Muslim-Croat federation and the Serb Republic, has stalled reforms.

Reuters

Güncelleme Tarihi: 29 Haziran 2010, 23:23
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