The Bosnian Presidency's Serb member, Mladen Ivanic, said on Friday he would not give his consent to amendments to the Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA) between Bosnia and Herzegovina and the European Union until the results of a population census, which he called incorrect and unacceptable, were revised.
He was speaking to the press after returning from Berlin where, together with the other two Presidency members, he discussed the situation in Bosnia with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Merkel said after the meeting that she expected reforms in Bosnia to continue, including the adoption of amendments to the SAA so that it could be applied to the customs-free import of agricultural and food products from Croatia.
Ivanic said today that Merkel did not pressure anyone and had a balanced approach at the talks. He said Germany wished to help Bosnia on its European integration path, including through direct financial aid to Bosnian farmers if they suffered because of stronger imports from EU member states.
Ivanic said, however, that all that was not enough for him to sign a document whereby the Presidency would agree to the already negotiated SAA alignment, a fundamental prerequisite for the EU to consider Bosnia's application for membership candidate status.
Ivanic went on to say that the population census results, published yesterday, remained an issue because they include nearly 200,000 persons who he said did not actually reside in Bosnia. He said that until the results were revised, he would not sign the SAA alignment document.
Ivanic said the Bosnian Serb entity disputed the processing of the census results and mentioned "an unheard-of abuse of the census." He said "very ugly topics" would be raised soon in the wake of the results on Bosnia's new ethnic structure, according to which Bosniaks make up over 50% of the population, Serbs about 30% and Croats a little over 15%.
Ivanic dismissed claims that the Serb entity and Bosnian Serb politicians obstructed Bosnia's European path, saying everyone was responsible because there was no policy of agreement and that conflicts harmed everyone. He called for returning to the policy of compromise, saying Bosnia "can't function on the principle of outvoting."
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