Bishop in Bosnia-Herzegovina: Instability Plays Into Hands of Extremists

Banja Luka Prelate Notes Worry in Lead-up to Elections

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Bosnia-Herzegovina urgently needs political reform and significant support from the European Union, one of the country’s leading Church leaders said.

Bishop Franjo Komarica of Banja Luka spoke with international Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need on the eve of elections slated for Oct. 12 that will elect Members of Parliament and the three-member presidency.

The country is in poor shape, with unemployment at more than 50% and nearly three quarters of young adults unable to find work. Dissatisfaction among the population, which comprises three ethnic groups – Bosnians, Croats and Serbs – has grown enormously. Corruption, cronyism and nepotism are widespread.

Bishop Komarica is deeply concerned: «We are living in an absurd situation. Bosnia-Herzegovina is not moving forward, either politically or economically. The country has a number of constitutions which obstruct one another. The number of ministers is astronomical, an indulgence which no other nation allows itself. The people are longing for a new organization of the state.»

The political logjam and lack of legal certainty might radicalize groups and factions in society, the bishop worries: «There are people here who could exploit the instability. And we mustn’t ignore the dark clouds arising to the south east. Destructive, radical forces from the Arab world can very easily settle and flourish here.»

Before the last Balkan war, various ethnic and religious communities in Bosnia-Herzegovina lived in harmony. However, this fundamental consensus was destroyed by war and violence and now has to be built up again, the prelate said.

Bishop Komarica argues that the current instability demands a greater involvement on the part of the international community, and specifically the European Union. The Catholic Church in Bosnia-Herzegovina is doing its part: «We need more justice, reconciliation and willingness to work together. We bishops have therefore invited everyone to go to the polls to cast their vote for law and justice and to make sure the country does not get stuck in this disastrous situation.»

Aid to the Church in Need is an international Catholic charity under the guidance of the Holy See, providing assistance to the suffering and persecuted Church in more than 140 countries. (USA); (UK); (AUS); (IRL); (CAN) (Malta)

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