Bosnia and Herzegovina intends to fulfill the conditions set by the European Commission to open accession negotiations before the end of the year, said the President of the Council of Ministers of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Borjana Krišto, during an exclusive interview with Euractiv.
EU membership is one of the key issues in Bosnia and Herzegovina on which there is a consensus of the three main ethnic groups (Bosniaks, Croats and Serbs) and citizens, as well as the two entities that make up Bosnia- Herzegovina (Croats-Bosnians). Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina and Republika Srpska).
“This positive report strongly encourages us to continue working harder, faster and better to fulfill the remaining criteria in order to finally obtain the final date for the opening of negotiations. I am confident that we will fulfill all the remaining conditions by the end of this year. Above all, in Bosnia and Herzegovina we need it for our own good,” said Krišto. EURACTIV.
In a interview after the European Commission, in its report on the progress of the candidates, gave Bosnia and Herzegovina a conditional green light to start negotiations, Krišto, who serves as Prime Minister of Bosnia and Herzegovina, although this position , be occupied by the Dayton Peace Agreement of 1995, said the President of the Council of Ministers, said that Sarajevo was satisfied that “Brussels recognized the effort and the will of the political subjects in Bosnia and Herzegovina to accelerate the path European”.
In response to the question of how realistic are the chances that Bosnia and Herzegovina will meet the EU requirements in a short time, Krišto said that “the chances are real”.
“Now we just need a little more political courage and will to finally finalize these reforms,” Krišto stressed.
Several pro-European laws in Bosnia and Herzegovina have been “suspended” in recent months because they were blocked by political representatives of one of the three constituent nations, using the veto power granted to them by the peace agreement of 1995 Dayton.
These laws are already at a high stage of harmonization, but due to the complexity of the procedure for adopting laws in Bosnia and Herzegovina and disagreements on details, for example on whether the seat of the section of appeal of the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina will be located in Bosnia and Herzegovina East Sarajevo or Banja Luka – two cities located in Republika Srpska, the Parliamentary Assembly of Bosnia and Herzegovina cannot vote on these two cities.
However, Krišto believes that there is a strong desire in Bosnia and Herzegovina to join the EU and thus adopt the necessary laws.
In an interview with EURACTIVshe mentioned the implementation of electoral reform as a priority step that they intend to adopt in Sarajevo to ensure the equality of the three constituent peoples of Bosnia and Herzegovina in state institutions, as well as the implementation of decisions of the Constitutional Court. of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the European Court of Human Rights.
Furthermore, she added that a set of European laws is already in the process and she hopes that the Council of Ministers of Bosnia and Herzegovina will adopt them next month. These are the laws on the courts, then on the prevention of conflicts of interest and the fight against money laundering and the financing of terrorist activities, as well as the law on the High Council of the Judiciary and Prosecutors of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
“Now the priority should be placed on the adoption of these laws, but also on the adoption of the budget of the institutions of Bosnia and Herzegovina for 2024, the appointment of the state coordinator for IPA III and ‘others,’ Kristo emphasized.
In response to our question, to what extent has Bosnia and Herzegovina received a conditional green light to open negotiations thanks to its efforts, and to what extent is this the result of lobbying from Croatia, Slovenia , Austria and Italy, which EURACTIV wrote, Krišto says that the Council of Ministers is working on the entry of Bosnia and Herzegovina into the EU.
“Many reform processes that we have already discussed need to be accelerated, but we are also working on them and it is undeniable that we are on the right track. Likewise, the continued support of our European friends is obviously of great importance. We are extremely grateful to them. Shortly after presenting the official report, I sent everyone a personal thank you letter. I will still have to highlight Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković in a special way,” said Krišto.
Krišto is the first woman to head the Council of Ministers of Bosnia and Herzegovina. She was appointed to this position after the 2022 elections. She is a member of HDZ BiH, a party that is part of the state-level ruling coalition. The focus of his work is Bosnia and Herzegovina’s accession to the EU.
At the end of last year, Bosnia and Herzegovina was granted the status of an EU candidate country. Despite numerous disagreements on the country’s political scene, Krišto believes that the ruling coalition at the state level has the strength to implement the reforms which constitute a condition for the opening of negotiations and entry into the EU.
“I am convinced, as the European Commission’s report on Bosnia and Herzegovina for 2023 showed, that the ruling coalition has the capacity to continue implementing the reforms that have been successfully initiated. Certainly, there remain many unresolved domestic policy issues… We must discuss all outstanding issues, seek compromise and move forward,” she said.
“I constantly call on all political actors in Bosnia and Herzegovina to focus our discussions on the future and reforms, and not on the past and divisions. Together, we must urgently proceed with the implementation of the remaining European reforms by the end of this year, in particular the electoral reform in Bosnia and Herzegovina, which emerges as one of the key issues in the reform process of our country,” said Kristo. .
She stressed that Sarajevo continues to harmonize the visa regime with that of the EU and that the visa regime of Bosnia and Herzegovina is already almost completely harmonized.
She also said that the Council of Ministers should soon reach an agreement on cooperation with Frontex.