The Congress of the Council of Europe examines the situation in city of Mostar
At its 33rd Session in Strasbourg, France, the Chamber of Local Authorities of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe organised a roundtable on the situation in Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina.
As a reminder, the City of Mostar and its citizens are in an extremely difficult position since the city council doesn’t exist since 2012 and no local elections have been held since 2008.
Stewart Dickson, the Congress rapporteur at the last local elections in BiH in 2016, opened the roundtable presenting the reasons for the absence of the election process in Mostar, as well as the conclusions of the monitoring report. According to the report, the specific situation in Mostar should not be related to solving the national issue in Bosnia and Herzegovina or constitutional changes. He concluded that there’s no political will for solving the problems in Mostar on both national political parts. Dickson stressed that Congress once again supports the citizens of Mostar and will provide assistance in the realisation of their democratic rights, and will urge the Council of Europe to seriously consider what can be done to improve the situation.
Alex Jeffery, visiting professor at Cambridge University, whose work focuses on the role of the non-governmental sector in creating democratic processes in post-conflict areas, also exhibited his vision of the role of the international community in the context of the situation in Mostar. Jeffery stated that one of the great successes in contemporary Mostar is the flourishing civil society initiatives that seek to challenge the stagnation and deadlock that has characterised the electoral process over the last nine years. He also emphasised that the consequence of continued political stagnation in Mostar is not simply a ‘muddling through’ with the status quo. The consequence is emigration.
On behalf of the Coalition ELECT Mostar, the situation in Mostar was presented by the director of the Local Democracy Agency Mostar (LDA Mostar), Dženana Dedić, and Vladimir Ćorić, Director of OKC Abrašević.
The Coalition ELECT Mostar, currently made up of three civil society organizations, the Local Democracy Agency Mostar, OKC Abrašević and the Youth Council of the City of Mostar, held an action in the Mostar on the day of last local elections in Bosnia and Herzegovina, on 2 October 2016. The citizens of Mostar had the opportunity to ‘vote’ in three city locations and by casting their ‘ballots’ with the answers to the questions by filling in questionnaires. Citizens responded to a number of issues, confirming their dissatisfaction with the existing situation. The action ELECT Mostar was well received by the citizens and broadcasted by regional and local media, and a great deal of attention has been devoted to it by an international community. The activity ELECT Mostar was organised at the time by a group of associations of citizens active in the Mostar city area and dealing with youth issues: Local Democracy Agency Mostar, Youth Council of the City of Mostar, OKC Abrašević, and the Association of Young Psychologists Sensus. Later on, two additional organisations took part in the action activities: Youth Power and The European Law Students' Association ELSA Mostar.
The idea of activity ELECT Mostar was formed during the Local Youth Advisory Group meeting in 2016 as a part of the project activities of the Balkan regional platform for youth participation and dialogue, cofounded by EU.
Dedić presented the work of the Coalition and the action it carried out, and stressed the problem of mass abandonment of BiH, especially by young people, while Ćorić illustrated the political situation both at the state and at the local level, and appealed to the international community to provide solutions.
Finally, the situation in Mostar was presented by the project manager of the Nansen Dialogue Center in Mostar, Vernes Voloder, which faced Mostar's problem with the sociological side, emphasizing that Mostar was not divided city when it comes to the citizens' interpersonal relations, but division is created and present at the political level.
While aware of the complexity of the situation, the Congress urges authorities at all levels to work on a sustainable solution to restore local democracy in the City of Mostar, by amending the legislation, especially the Law on elections and the Statute of the City.
The Congress will continue to closely monitor the situation, in close cooperation with the Committee of the Regions of the European Union, and is committed to keeping the issue of local democracy in the City of Mostar on its political agenda until a suitable solution is found.
Complete information note on the Congress’ mission to Bosnia and Herzegovina in the framework of the post-electoral dialogue
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