Welsh diplomat may head to Bosnia

by | Feb 11, 2009


Since Slovak diplomat Miroslav Lajcak resigned as High Representative and EU special representative in Bosnia and Herzegovina, there has been a mad scramble to fill his post. The British Government has apparently nominated Sir Emyr Jones Parry, Britain’s former UN ambassador, after having asked Rupert Smith and Jeremy Greenstock.

But Greece, Estonia, Austria and Italy are also said to have put forward candidates for the position. Italy’s candidate is said to be Renzo Daviddi, the European Commission’s man in Kosovo.

The person selected by the European Council to serve as EUSR would then need to be proposed to PIC Steering Board capitals as the EU’s nominee for high representative. Assuming the PIC concurred, the practice of ‘double-hatting’ inaugurated in 2002 would continue. This might facilitate the ‘transition’ of OHR into a EUSR office, particularly if the EU can in the meantime agree a robust mandate for a ‘reinforced’ EUSR. It is unlikely that several PIC Steering Board countries – both EU and non-EU members – would agree to close OHR in the absence of assurances that the new EUSR would have the requisite personal and institutional clout.

Other PIC capitals – both EU and non-EU – are keen, however, to close OHR as soon as possible. Opinion in BiH is likewise divided. Republika Srpska politicians see Lajčák’s early departure as a heaven-sent opportunity to get rid of OHR altogether. Most of their counterparts in the Federation, on the other hand, still regard the maintenance of OHR in its full capacity as essential.

Whoever is elected for the job will have to arrive in Sarajevo with a plan, the centre piece of which should be constitutional change. Bosnia cannot survive in its present dysfunctional state: the country’s governance is overly complicated and the ethnicity-favoring provisions in the country’s constitution and election law too centrifugal to create lasting stability.  As Judy Blatt says in a new FRIDE report:

The EU should be ready to take the lead in an active and assertive approach to mediating the constitutional reform process

Taking on constitutional issue also the right battle, as it is inimical to RS leader Milorad Dodik, whose whole political support is built on increasing the powers of the RS and diminishing the powers of the Bosnian state.

What a new constitutional set-up will look like, how to get domestic agreement on a new constitution and how to use the EU’s accession process as a goad for the reform process are questions that the EU man will have to answer. “Pob lwc”, as they say in Welsh. Good luck.

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