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EU, U.S. working to defuse political tensions in Bosnia

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By Reuters

SARAJEVO – The European Union and the United States are working with Bosnian officials to try to solve a nagging political crisis, and to assist in drafting necessary electoral changes, their representatives said on Friday.

The work of Bosnia’s state institutions has been blocked by the Bosnian Serbs since late July. They are protesting a measure imposed by the former peace envoy that would jail anyone who denies genocide and war crimes that happened in the 1990s.

In addition, Serb nationalist leader Milorad Dodik, who advocates the secession of the Serb-dominated region from Bosnia, has announced that the Serb Republic will withdraw from all state institutions, including the military and top judicial and fiscal bodies, and form its own instead.

“We are here to try to find the way out of the political crisis,” said Angelina Eichhorst, the European external action service managing director. “There is really no time for more divisive rhetoric or divisive actions, there is time for solutions and working constructively.”

Speaking to reporters together with U.S. Special Envoy for Electoral Reform Matthew Palmer, Eichhorts said the duo was also assisting in finding the solution for necessary but disputed electoral reform that would tackle discrimination and corruption.

“These are difficult tasks and we are fully aware of the responsibility we are having,” she said.

Bosnian Croats and Bosniaks disagree on the way a Croat member of the tripartite presidency is chosen, with Croats complaining that Bosniaks, who are in majority in the region of Bosnia the two groups share, are choosing their representative.

The two officials reiterated the support for Bosnia as a single, united and sovereign country.

“We have watched with alarm and concern the rise in tensions over the last couple of weeks and actions that have been driving that rise in tensions,” Palmer said. “We are committed to doing everything we can to help de-escalate the situation.”