Failure on the EU path means that BiH will be ‘Europe’s dark hole’

Failure on the EU path means that BiH will be ‘Europe’s dark hole’

Head of the EU Delegation to BiH, Lars-Gunnar Wigemark, said at Tuesday in Banja Luka that, in the EU Strategy for the Western Balkans, which was introduced in Strasbourg, it was not explicitly stated that the Dayton Peace Agreement will have to be changed, but that there are definitely some elements of it that will have to be modified in the process of joining the EU.

Wigemark has specified that there are some elements of the Dayton Agreement that were implemented, as Annex 7, but also some things, like ethnic prefixes in the election of members of the BiH Presidency, that are not in line with European standards and principles.

“There are some things that will have to be modified in the process of accession, but Dayton is there and there will be,” Wigemark told reporters in Sarajevo.

On the occasion of the presentation of the EU Strategy for the Western Balkans by 2025, Wigemark emphasized that this is “an open race in which everyone will be treated equally, but that some have better starting positions.”

He said that all BiH politicians must have a common goal no matter what ethnic group they come from, and that the goal must be BiH in the EU.

“If that’s true, let’s work on that joint issue. We’ve seen it earlier in the past that this goal was ignored, or that the European road was used as an instrument for different interests,” said Wigemark.

He added that BiH has made remarkable progress over the past three years thanks to a new common EU approach, that was agreed three years ago and, as a written statement read, was signed by all 14 parliamentary parties. Wigemark noted that in the final version of the new EU Strategy, there is no reference to deadlines in 2019 and 2023 in the part about BiH, adding that the EU does not specify any dates, but focuses exclusively on results.

BiH Presidency member, Bakir Izetbegović, believes that the new strategy allows BiH the possibility to participate in an open race on its path to the EU.

“I welcome the adoption of the new European Commission’s Strategy for the Western Balkans. The strategy represents a very clear global message that the Western Balkans are a European space, the future of which is in the European Union. The new strategy leaves the possibility for us to participate in an open race by 2025, to surpass the countries that are currently ahead of us on the road to EU membership,” optimistic Izetbegović said.

He added that political leaders in Bosnia and Herzegovina have a period ahead that must be used to meet the conditions and implement reforms that will transform the state, society and economy, aligning them with European standards and values.

BiH political analyst, Ivana Marić, said to the media, that the Strategy, with deadlines for certain stages of BiH’s path towards full EU membership, did not say anything that BiH was unaware of earlier or something that was impossible to suppose.

“What to expect from a country that breaks only negative deadlines, such as the length of answering questions from the EU Questionnaire,” said Marić.

She adds that the strategy predicts that in 2019, BiH should get a candidate status, and in 2023, to start accession talks with the EU, if in the meantime it will “actively implement the reforms and work on the fight against corruption.”

“If you pay attention to the second part of the sentence, “IF actively implement reforms and working on the fight against corruption”, it will be clear that even these deadlines are unachievable for us,” said Marić.

MP in the House of Representatives of the Parliamentary Assembly of BiH, Dušanka Majkić, stressed that BiH must first solve internal issues if it wants to advance on its path to the European Union.

Majkić said that in the Strategy of the European Commission for the Western Balkans, each country is positioned according to what it has already done.

“BiH has to solve its homework and implement the key agreements of the three peoples. Without political agreement, no progress can be made. No, country can make a progress, especially on the economic sphere, if there are unresolved inter-ethnic issues,” Majkić said.

She said that, without meetings of key political actors, BiH will remain a “dark hole” that will not be necessary to anyone, especially not to the European Union…/IBNA