Prof. Dr. Melanie Sully

Go-Governance at the Ennstal Circle: dialogue on democracy, education and culture.

One of the panels of this years Ennstal Dialogue was devoted to Bosnia and Herzegovina. Today (photo) Mostar in the South, formerly centre of fierce fighting, is a favourite tourist resort but the city cannot fully participate in the democratic process.

This year the Economic Ennstal Circle took place on October 6 - 7th in Ramsau am Dachstein, Austria,
There were six varied panels including education, architecture, the Euro-crisis and Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH).
Akper Saryyev, assistant of the Vienna-based Go-Governance initiative, attended the conference with a special focus on the panel devoted to BiH.

Ethnic Problems - cultural, ethnic and religious diversity in BiH still play a major role in the country, as in the not-so-distant tragic past. The High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina, Dr. Valentin Inzko, said that despite this BiH is a multicultural country and integration of different ethnic groups is progressing but it is politicians who often hold this back.

The other stumbling block is the country’s Constitution, which needs amending. People have to declare their nationality (ethnic origin) and only ethnic Bosnians, Croatians and Serbs have the right to be elected; even people from mixed families do not have this right. However integration of Muslims in society is not so fraught with some of the problems that exist for example, in France and Germany. So there is something that some EUrope countries could learn from BiH.

Politics – the local elections of 2012 illustrate some of the practical difficulties described above when it comes to implementing the democratic process. Mostar in the South, the former centre of fierce fighting, is a big cultural centre but cannot take part in the elections. The reason for this is lack of consensus between Bosnians and Croatians on electoral laws.
As for international politics -that too is complicated. Dr. Inzko says it is extremely important for BiH to acquire candidate status for accession to the European Union. This will foster European values and help stabilize not only the political but also the economic situation. However as of today BiH has not managed to fulfill requirements eg for a visa-free regime with the EU (ie biometric passports).

Economic Situation – the economy is developing relatively well. But when Croatia becomes an EU member, this will have a negative influence on the economy. Croatia is one of the biggest trade partners of BiH, which will then be hard pressed to compete with European producers.

See also on Mostar: ”The city that is not allowed to choose a Mayor”, - Der Standard, 7.10.2012

Dr Inzko is an Austrian diplomat and graduate of the Diplomatic Academy, Vienna,

Go-Governance is an independent initiative headed by Professor Melanie Sully and Dr Josef Mantl and organises conferences, events, summer schools and produces regular publications.