Zagreb, 21 November 2020 (Hina/MIA) – European Commission Vice-President and EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs Josep Borrell said in Sarajevo on Saturday that the door to the EU was open to Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) but only if the country implemented the necessary reforms.
Borell was visiting Sarajevo on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the signing of the Dayton peace agreement, which on 21 November 1995 put an end to a three-and-a-half-year war in the country, and upon his arrival he met with the members of the country’s collective state presidency.
Addressing reporters after the meeting, Borrell said that he would like to offer his congratulations to Bosnia and Herzegovina citizens on their inspiring endurance.
This is beyond doubt a historic and important day for Bosnia and Herzegovina and for Europe, Borrell said, noting that he remembered the war and the siege of Sarajevo very well.
He noted that it was important to remember all victims as well as give credit to those who persistently work on reconciliation.
In that context, Borrell said that he welcomed the joint statement adopted earlier this week by the BiH Presidency but that he also regretted there was no joint commemoration for all victims, which the current Presidency Chairman Milorad Dodik previously declined.
Borrell said that it was exactly reconciliation that was one of the important tasks the European Commission insisted on with regard to Bosnia and Herzegovina and its EU membership prospects.
I would like to confirm support to Bosnia and Herzegovina’s efforts on its European journey. This country has a European future, Borrell said, calling on the government to step up reform efforts in order to accomplish that goal.
He explained that Bosnia and Herzegovina could count on the status of EU candidate after it applied for it four years ago only after it made progress on all 14 priorities defined by the European Commission in 2019, which refer to structural reforms.
Presidency Chairman Dodik told reporters that regardless of internal disputes, Bosnia and Herzegovina counted on the EU for support, asking Borrell to help ensure additional EU financial support for the country hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic.
“We have lost huge public revenues… and we need a new assistance package in order to overcome the challenges in the coming months,” Dodik said, warning that the economic crisis could deepen the already existing political differences in the country and create new tension, which was why EU assistance was necessary.
He said that the Dayton agreement was important because it had enabled peace.
“There have been no ethnic conflicts in Bosnia and Herzegovina for years, that is the biggest value of the Dayton agreement, and it has also shown how deeply opposed sides can be made to work together based on consensus,” Dodik said, repeating again his view that Bosnia and Herzegovina “is made up of two entities and three constituent peoples”, and adding that “abstract stories about (BiH) citizens will not yield results.”
The Bosniak member of the BiH Presidency, Sefik Dzaferovic, said after talks with Borrell that he hoped the bad political climate in the country and fruitless debates that keep it blocked would finally end.
“Bosnia and Herzegovina definitely has a prospect of joining the EU. We enjoy the EU’s and the High Representative’s support for that and it is up to us to accomplish the priorities set before us,” said Dzaferovic whose position was supported by the Croat Presidency member Zeljko Komsic.
During his visit to Sarajevo, Borrell will hold separate meetings with members of the Council of Ministers and leaders of both chambers of the national parliament as well as visit the Sarajevo War Childhood Museum and hold a lecture.