Sarajevo, December 11, 2015/Independent Balkan News Agency
By Mladen Dragojlovic
The Stabilisation and Association Council (SA Council) between BiH and the European Union held its first meeting on Friday, under the chairmanship of High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs & Security Policy and Vice-President of the European Commission, Federica Mogherini, in her capacity as President of the Foreign Affairs Council.
The Delegation of BiH was led by the Chairman of the Council of Ministers, Denis Zvizdic, who was accompanied by Deputy Chairman and Minister of Foreign Trade and Economic Relations Mirko Sarovic and Minister of Foreign Affairs Igor Crnadak. Commissioner Johannes Hahn also took part in the meeting. In his speech after the meeting, Zvizdic said that it was a “historic session” and emphasised that BiH will submit the full application for EU membership in next month or two.
“We know the importance of reforms we already made as well as those which expect us. BiH is ready to face them and our wish is strong economic progress, strengthening of rule of law and quick adoption of coordination mechanism”, Zvizdic pointed out.
Hahn emphasized that the coordination mechanism is crucial to enable BiH to accelerate its aspirations for EU membership.
” EU is ready to support BiH in its efforts but it is necessary not to undermine very positive influence of close cooperation between EU and BiH in preparations for future membership, to stimulate economy”, Hahn said.
In the joint statement, issued after meeting, it was said that the SA Council welcomed the entry into force of the Stabilisation and Association Agreement on 1 June 2015 and commended BiH for its progress in 2015 on its path towards the European Union.
“The EU noted that the Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA) is an important step for BiH’s EU integration process and that it provides the broad framework within which the EU and BiH will intensify their co-operation on the political criteria, economic criteria as well as trade and legal approximation with the EU acquis”, the EU stressed in the statement.
The SA Council recalled the renewed approach towards BiH as provided for by the Council of the EU conclusions adopted in the last year, which welcomed the adoption of the Reform Agenda by BiH authorities. This adoption marked an important step for the credible implementation of commitments undertaken by BiH’s leadership. BiH is now back on the reform track necessary to move the country forward on its EU path. Encouraging, early results have been achieved so far with the adoption of key reforms.
“On this basis, the Council of the EU called on BiH to maintain positive momentum by continuing to implement the reforms, in cooperation with civil society. Meaningful progress in the implementation of the Reform Agenda is necessary for the EU to consider a membership application from BiH. The Council also called on BiH to focus on the improvement of the socio-economic situation in order to make further progress in EU integration and avoid attention being diverted by a discussion on a possible holding of an entity-level referendum on State Judiciary”, is stayed in the statement.
The SA Council recalled that the SAA will help BiH harmonising its legislation and policies with EU acquis in key areas creating a new impetus for the country’s economy and economic welfare of its citizens, as well as additional opportunities for BiH and EU companies alike. Moreover, the SA Agreement will further reinforce the benefits of the Interim Agreement especially in the area of trade. Improvement of internal coordination on EU affairs will enable BiH to fully benefit from opportunities provided under this agreement especially once an effective and efficient coordination mechanism on EU matters is set-up and functioning and adjusted to reflect the entry into force of the SAA.