The Foreign Minister of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Igor Crnadak, on the margins of the works of the Ministerial Meeting of the Visegrad countries, the Balkan EU Member States and the EU Balkan countries, in Sounio, spoke exclusively to IBNA on reforms in BiH, the European course, the upcoming elections and the need for cooperation in the wider region.
How does Bosnia and Herzegovina expect to reach the goal of getting candidate status since OHR and ALTHEA missions are still supervising the peace process in the country?
Bosnia and Herzegovina cannot become a member of the EU with an international presence like OHR, definitely. Or, for example, we have international judges in the constitutional court. Of course it’s unacceptable for a country that is an EU member. But, in the process itself, it can be tolerated because we are working on creating conditions to have this international presence end. I think it will not be a problem for candidate status, but for further progressing with the European integration path, we will have to get rid, so to speak, of this international presence.
How will a possible failure in amending electoral laws affect the country’s European accession path?
It can reflect in a way that causes us a problem to implement the elections, after we have them on October 7. But, I still hope that there will be a solution for this one particular thing that we need, which is agreement on how to elect delegates in the Houses of people, in the parliament of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the parliament of federation, which is one of the two entities. Other than that, everything is very clear. Elections were announced two days ago, so we will have elections, we will have results on everything that the people will vote for, but I hope we will also have this agreement for delegates to the Houses of people, because without that, the complete process of implementation of the elections will not be possible.
How do you see the BiH Foreign Policy in the course of your mandate? What do you consider to be the greatest success?
Well, I would definitely put it in two groups. First, we have mae a huge breakthrough on the European integration process. In this mandate, the council of ministers and the ministry opened up a new chapter after 7 years of being blocked, of ASA being signed but not activated. We have activated it. We have applied for membership and we have had a lot of success in this European integration path. The second is regional cooperation. I think we have come a long way in this particular area in the region. We have invested a lot in order to keep communications going, in order to create channels of communication in which the regional neighboring countries, together with us, work together for long lasting stability and development for the entire region.
These will be the priorities of your Foreign Policy?
Absolutely. I think this will remain a priority no matter what the election result. European integration process, regional cooperation and continuing work on repairing or improving the overall image of the country. I think this needs to be the priority pillars of our foreign policy in the future.
About the meeting here in Sounio, about the Balkan countries, the four European Balkan countries, the four Visegrad countries and the EU candidate countries; what are your thoughts?
I think it was a great idea to invite us to such an event, because V4 and B4 are 8 EU countries all of which are very friendly towards our region and enlargement friendly too. It was therefore a great idea to bring us here today. I think the Visegrad group also showed a lot of success in dealing with the Western Balkans, not only through positive messaging in the EU institutions, but also with some very concrete actions like the Western Balkans fund which actually derived from the activities of the Visegrad group. Of course we see this as another form of support for the region in order to speed up the work on the European integration process. We will participate in this format every time we are invited. I can only thank Nikos Kotzias and the other hosts for having us here.
What is your fear for the region? Is it nationalism, for example?
I definitely have no fear of any kind of armed conflict. I think the wars are behind us. But I have a fear that we will not be able to find a way to speed up the full recover, full reconciliation, because somehow, especially during election periods, rhetoric gets tougher and these processes slow down. I think it will be the most important thing to do, to definitely put the past behind us and look to the future./IBNA