The German newspaper Welt writes that Christian Schmidt (CSU) recently said that Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) is a “porcelain box” and that “incendiary rhetoric” could cause it a lot of damage.
Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (eng. Frankfurt General Newspaper, FAZ) explains the reasons for Schmidt’s outburst of anger
”What made him so angry?” Welt asks.
”For some time, Schmidt thought about introducing an electoral threshold of three percent in the Federation of BiH (FBiH): only ethnic groups that make up more than three percent of the population in the cantons of this BiH entity should be able to run in elections. The Croatian nationalist HDZ would particularly benefit from this, which infuriated the Bosniak Muslims again, who accused Schmidt of an even greater division of the country. The uproar was so great that Schmidt put the electoral threshold of three percent in the drawer. But the hurt of being called a “separator” was deep,” Welt writes.
”HDZ, which sees itself as the representative of Croats in BiH, has been looking for a new representation formula for a long time. After information about Schmidt’s plans to amend the Election Law was leaked, citizens who feared that the ethnic division would be cemented protested in Sarajevo.”
”In his outburst of anger in Gorazde, Schmidt called on the politicians of ethnic groups to compromise. He excitedly lamented that precisely these politicians have been preventing the agreement for 15 years. His outburst of anger was met with criticism abroad. The reaction was “absolutely inappropriate” and damaged “the reputation and effectiveness of the Office of the High Representative (OHR),” said Adis Ahmetovic, reporter of the SPD Deputies’ Caucus for the Western Balkans, for “Spiegel”, FAZ writes, and Deutsche Welle (eng. German Wave, DW) reports.
I did not side with HDZ
Die Tageszeitung (eng. The Daily Newspaper, TAZ) from Berlin states that Schmidt, who is considered a calm man, has so far shown a lot of patience for the problems in BiH. But “he was angered by a journalist’s question, asked in Gorazde, about changing the electoral law in favor of the HDZ, according to which he allegedly took the Croatian side.”
”Croatian nationalists, with the full support of Croatia, now want to achieve a majority in the lower house of the entity’s parliament – the House of Peoples, and thus be able to block the decisions of the FBiH parliament,” TAZ writes.
The paper adds that “many journalists, the majority of Bosniaks and non-nationalists suspect that the Croatian nationalists are aiming for a third entity with Croatian dominance through the reform, in order to finally divide the country according to ethnonationalism criteria.” TAZ points out that this is exactly why the issue of electoral reform is explosive.
”First of all, the media from Sarajevo believe that Schmidt is behind the project due to the pressure from Croatia. Because of this, he has been exposed to a lot of hostility in the last few weeks, which has obviously left a mark on him. That is why it is unbearable for him to be exposed to attacks that are absolutely wrong,” they state.
”Mainly HDZ politicians have been blocking the institutions of the FBiH for four years. Even the president of this entity of BiH, Marinko Cavara, is not willing to work for the country, and therefore not for the welfare of the people,” TAZ quotes Schmidt and states that the high representative is ready to do “everything in his power to break the blockades.” Therefore, TAZ concludes, he categorically “rejects accusations that he does not defend the integrity of the country and the interests of minorities and non-nationalist population in BiH,”, DW reports, Avaz writes.