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In Bosnia, Jews Still Not Permitted to Run for Elected Office

European official urges Bosnia to end practices of discrimination against Jewish minorities, whose members cannot run for elected office.
By Rachel Hirshfeld
First Publish: 7/12/2012, 1:22 PM

Croatian Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic (L) speaks to Bosnian Foreign Affairs Minister Zlatko Lagumd
Croatian Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic (L) speaks to Bosnian Foreign Affairs Minister Zlatko Lagumd
Reuters

The Representative of the Irish Chair-in-Office of the Organisation for Security in Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), Minister for European Affairs Lucinda Creighton, has urged Bosnia to end practices of discrimination against its Roma and Jewish minorities, whose members cannot run for high elected office, AFP reported.

"There is no excuse to discriminate against anyone, especially minorities," Creighton said in a statement.   

"This is especially important in a post-conflict society," she said in a reference to Bosnia's 1992-1995 war.   

"We in Ireland know very well how difficult it is to build trust between communities but we have also seen the tangible economic and social benefits that overcoming those divisions can bring," she added.   

Bosnia's constitution makes a clear distinction between "constituent peoples," namely Bosniaks (Muslims), Croats and Serbs and "others," categorized as Jews, Roma and other minorities.   

Posts in the Bosnian parliament are reserved for the three “constituent nations,” under regulations that were intended to prevent ethnic strife in the aftermath of the war.   

In 2009, the European Court of Human Rights condemned Bosnia for barring Jews and Romas from running for high elected office. The Strasbourg-based tribunal ruled that the Balkan country was violating provisions of the convention prohibiting discrimination and upheld the right to free elections, AFP reported.

Creighton discussed the issue with Bosnian Foreign Minister Zlatko Lagumdzija and chairman of the country's tripartite presidency Bakir Izetbegovic.   

A reform of the constitution is one of the main conditions for Bosnia to obtain European Union candidacy status.