The referendum set to be held in the Bosnian Serb entity of Republika Srpska can only be of a consultative nature and the problem arising from it can only be solved with respect for court decisions, notably the decision of the Constitutional Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations Johannes Hahn said in Brussels on Monday.
Court decisions, notably those of the Constitutional Court, the country's highest court, must be respected, Hahn said, adding that in his opinion, the referendum in the Serb entity could only be of a consultative nature. Anyone who is serious about the process of European integration must contribute to a change in conduct, which includes beginning to implement court decisions, Hahn said after meeting Bosnian Prime Minister Denis Zvizdic.
In November 2015 the Constitutional Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina ruled that marking January 9 as Republika Srpska Day was unconstitutional because it hurt the feelings of Bosniaks and Croats living in that entity.
The referendum is planned for September 25, a week before local elections in the country. It is considered by many to be a precursor of a referendum on the entity's secession from Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The Constitutional Court has said that on September 17 it will consider the request by the Serb entity parliament to re-examine its decision on the unconstitutionality of Republika Srpska Day as well as the request by Bosnia and Herzegovina Presidency Chairman Bakir Izetbegovic for the adoption of a temporary measure that would ban the September 25 vote.
Hahn said that the referendum issue should not discourage the country from dealing with social and economic challenges it was faced with.
Zvizdic said that the referendum was a political adventure, motivated by narrow interests.
"This is political adventurism, an attempt to hold on to power, which will not have any negative consequences because it will not be realised. Any projects leading to division or secession are out of the question and will never happen," said Zvizdic.
He expressed confidence that the Council of the EU will give the mandate to the European Commission on September 20 to launch the procedure for giving its opinion on Bosnia and Herzegovina's application for EU membership.
The country applied for EU membership on February 15 and in the meantime it has met the remaining conditions the EU set as its terms for considering the application.