EU awaits BiH

EU awaits BiH

Sarajevo, February 15, 2016/Independent Balkan News Agency

By Mladen Dragojlovic

As it was announced a few months ago, BiH submitted on Monday the application for full membership in EU. The ceremony was held in Brussels and the honor to submit the document which proves that BiH want to be a full member of EU, was given to the current Chairman of BiH Presidency, Dragan Covic.

Everybody was excited about this event in the EU and in the country. Ok, not exactly everybody, but at least the majority. Republic of Srpska president, Milorad Dodik, didn’t show too much joy about this event but said that it is “certainly an advantage” for BiH.

“We in RS were never against the application but we are against various manipulations on the BiH European path. The concept which dominated earlier was the “functional BiH concept” which, in fact, means newly established state institutions and it caused their hyper production, Dodik said, and emphasized that every case of favoring of state institutions over entities institutions is a violation of the BiH Constitution.

He added that entities must compromise about every important issue and solve it with consensus, and that is why RS is against the Coordination mechanism which was adopted, as he said, without consultation with RS institutions, on some dinner. Dodik said that RS representatives in BiH Council of ministers just accepted what was written in this document but their obligation was to cooperate with RS Government on this important issue.

But, let’s get back to those who are excited about this BiH important step for the future of its citizens. At a press conference in Brussels, after the submission of the application for membership in the EU, Chairman of the BiH Presidency, Dragan Covic, stressed that BiH has two strategic objectives in connection with the Euro-Atlantic integrations in this year and the next. He hopes for the activation of the Action plan for NATO in June, and next year the candidate status for membership in the EU.

“In the future it is necessary to continue with reforms and to confute those who, because of the complicated relations in BiH, didn’t believe in success. Also, this is election year and it is necessary to implement various socio-economic reforms, along with the election campaign for local elections, and it not an easy task”, Covic said.

BiH Minister of Foreign Affairs, Igor Crnadak, said that governments on all levels in BiH made a great effort to bring the state in a position to submit the application. He added that those who say that the application did not hit the target and that it is just for appearances, know that it is not the case.

The application submission was welcomed by highest EU officials as Federica Mogherini and Johannes Hahn. In the joint statement they said that  Monday is a day of celebration for all.

“Only twenty years ago, it was in the Balkans where one of the most awful pages of the European history was written. Today we celebrate another step towards a united and peaceful continent. And we need unity in challenging times. As some forces across our continent are questioning the very existence of our Union,BiH application shows that the need of a united European continent is still strong among our peoples”, Mogherini and Hahn mention in the statement.

They add that it is necessary to seize the momentum gained so far, and keep on working hard. They emphasized that the reforms that would improve economic growth and social justice, the rule of law and the public administration need to be implemented. The functionality of BiH institutions remains a priority, including through the effective and functioning coordination mechanism on EU matters.

“The adaptation of the Stabilisation and Association Agreement following the accession of Croatia will allow Bosnia and Herzegovina to normalise its trade relations with the Union. The country will continue enjoying the benefits of the advantageous trade and investment regime, while protecting its domestic producers in accordance with the Agreement. Finally, we expect that the authorities at all levels will ensure that the challenges the country faces when it comes to its judicial system are addressed constructively, in a spirit of dialogue and mutual understanding”, concludes the statement.

Analysts agree that it will be very hard to expect that BiH makes such a big number of reforms to reach the candidate status next year. In a situation when every step forward was followed by two steps back, even the biggest optimists are very cautious.