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September 25, 2014  Belgrade, Serbia

BOSNJAK NATIONAL COUNCIL ELECTIONS AND SERBIA’S EU ACCESSION

The Council for Inclusive Governance (CIG) held another session of the Regional Forum on 24 September 2014 in Belgrade on the topic of October elections for the Bošnjak National Council in Serbia. The meeting was opened by Michael Kirby, the American Ambassador to Serbia and Jadranka Jelincic, Executive Director of the Foundation for an Open Society. The Forum began addressing this issue in December 2013 aiming to contribute to a regular and peaceful process and to electing a Council recognized and supported by political forces. Given that the stability of the region is among top priorities in the Western Balkans, CIG invited a number of members of the diplomatic core in Serbia to share their opinions about the election process with the members of the Forum and to identify the key challenges in electing a minority council recognized by all. The goal of the roundtable was also to identify priorities of the new Bošnjak National Council and the ways for establishing its better cooperation with the state institutions. The roundtable was part of a project supported by the Open Society Foundation in Belgrade.

The roundtable participants offered the following conclusions and recommendations:

  • 1. This Forum session offered a rare opportunity for an agreement among the competing parties for the election. They agreed to avoid a similar situation created four years ago which resulted in creation of two parallel councils. The goal is to form a national council that would be accepted by all and that would perform its functions according to the Serbian Constitution and Serbia’s legislative framework.
  • 2. It is necessary to continue the debate aiming to secure a fair election process including the signing of a code of conduct by the participating citizen’s lists, political parties, and members of the Forum for both pre- and post-election period.
  • 3. Talks between the lists and mayors should continue in order to secure the participation of the representatives of the electoral lists in the local electoral commissions, thus contributing to the monitoring of the process.
  • 4. Talks should continue under the guidance of the Forum members in order to reach an agreement to recognize the election results and pledging to avoid irregularities during the election.
  • 5. Talks should continue with the help of the Forum members on reaching a general agreement on inclusion of all elected members in the Bošnjak National Council’s executive bodies and work of the Council according to the four areas prescribed by the Serbian law.
  • 6. All of the above-mentioned documents should be part of a comprehensive agreement. It was agreed that a Forum member Zibija Šarenkapi? would host the next Forum meeting in Novi Pazar to discuss and sign an agreement regarding the election for the Bošnjak National Council.

Follow-up information. A forum member, Zibija Šarenkapi?, supported by the OSCE office in Novi Pazar, led the consultations with the lists at the local level during the two weeks following the roundtable. On October 10, 2014, in Novi Pazar, the heads of the two electoral lists, Sulejman Ugljanin (United Bošnjak List) and Jahja Fehratovi? (For Bošnjaks, Sandžak and mufti), as well as the mayors of Sjenica and Tutin, signed a document that included an agreement of a peaceful election process, the participation of the two electoral lists’ representatives in monitoring the election, and on inclusive approach within the Council after the elections. The heads of the electoral lists also agreed to initiate broad consultations and public debates on the most important issues that are under the Council’s competence. The Forum will continue to support the functioning of the Council and monitor its activities.

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