EU Attempts to Break
Croat Boycott of Mostar
‘The negotiations are going on at the
highest level to see through the impasse.’
—Tom Walker, EU spokesman
By Davor Huic
ZAGREB, July 23 (Reuters) - European Union officials struggled on Tuesday to break a political deadlock in the divided city of Mostar after Bosnian Croats boycotted the first session of a newly-elected city assembly. EU representatives charged with overseeing the reunification of the southern town were holding talks with local Croat leaders to try to resolve the crisis triggered by the Croat boycott.
"The negotiations are going on at the highest level to see through the impasse," said Tom Walker, an EU spokesman in Sarajevo. The negotiations, crucial for the fate of the city and the EU's two-year-old mission there, were still under way late on Tuesday with no sign that an agreement was imminent, EU officials in Mostar said.
All 16 members of the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) failed to turn up at the first session of the 37-seat city assembly on Tuesday, saying they refused to recognise results of local elections held on June 30. Croatian state radio said on Tuesday the HDZ was pushing the EU for a joint interim adminstrative body in Mostar. The body should run the city pending a final decision on whether to annul the June election.
The row between the EU and Croats began last week when the EU decreed final results for the elections. A local electoral comission, deeply divided along ethnic lines, had failed to agree on results within 11 days after the poll. The Croats say voting at one polling station in Bonn should be repeated because of 26 illegal ballots but their complaint was overruled by the EU's city ombudsman.
The HDZ in turn filed a complaint with the constitutional court of the Muslim-Croat Federation, responsible for the ultimate decision on the fate of the June election. "That (overruling the complaint) was the last straw. No one has a right to ask for any more concessions from the Croats," the mayor of the Croat sector of town, Mijo Brajkovic told local media.
The Muslim nationalist Party of Democratic Action (SDA) won a five-seat edge over the HDZ in the city council election, benefitting from votes cast by Muslim refugees living abroad. Bosnian Muslim delegates held the city assembly session without the Croats on Tuesday and elected a Muslim as its head. But Brajkovic said Croats would not accept any decisions taken without HDZ deputies. "Whatever the council decided today is completely irrelevant for us," Brajkovic told Reuterss by telephone.
Brajkovic threatened the Croats would block an extension of the EU mandate to administer Mostar, which expired on Monday, if the results of the local elections were not "settled." The Bosnian Muslim-led government in Sarajevo slammed the Croats and appealed to the EU to push for an end to the boycott.
Berserkistan, July 22 · Croats to Boycott Newly-Elected Mostar City Council
Berserkistan, July 15 · EU Appoints New Mostar Envoy
Berserkistan, July 12 · Final Mostar Tally Gives Muslim Party a 5-Seat Edge
Berserkistan, July 10 · Croats Threaten to Resign Over Mostar Election Results
Berserkistan, July 7 · Mostar’s Elections Valid Says European Union
Berserkistan, July 1 · Muslims in Narrow Win over Croats in Mostar Elections
Berserkistan, July 1 · Mostar Holds Peaceful Post-War Elections
Berserkistan · Mostar, A Tale of Two Cities by Jim Bartlett
Berserkistan · For Peace in Mostar, Follow the Money Trail to Croatia
Mostar: Before and After its Devastation A site by Dubravko Kakarigi
Benvenuti in Guerra Gavino Paddeu chronicles Mostar's fall
Building in a War Zone European Union Helps to Reconstruct Mostar
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