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EU asks Bosnia for more reforms to start membership talks
The European Union (EU) has asked Bosnia and Herzegovina to make more reforms so that it can start negotiations for membership in this bloc, the head of the Council of Ministers of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Borjana Krishto, said on Tuesday.
Bosnia and Herzegovina received the status of a candidate country for EU membership in 2022. But, according to the assessment of the European Commission, it still has some criteria left to fulfill in order to be able to open membership talks.
A large delegation from Bosnia and Herzegovina met on Tuesday in Brussels with the EU Commissioner for Neighborhood and Enlargement, Oliver Verhelyi.
Verhelyi said that the EU "sees a commitment to reforms in Bosnia and Herzegovina and positive advancement".
"I am convinced that Bosnia and Herzegovina can do more and better, and the Council of Ministers [of BiH] is working in this direction. We are seeing great progress in reforms, new governments have been installed at all levels, budgets are being approved quickly, and all political parties have expressed EU integration as their priority," said Verhelyi.
He mentioned the spring of 2024 as the deadline when a decision could be adopted to start accession negotiations for Bosnia.
A large number of political representatives of various entities and institutions from Bosnia and Herzegovina stayed in Brussels on Tuesday, to participate in a high-level political forum with the EU, aimed at the European advancement of this country.
This meeting took place exactly at the time when the member countries are discussing the possibility of a conditional decision on the start of membership negotiations with Bosnia and Herzegovina. According to a draft prepared for approval by EU ministers, Bosnia and Herzegovina would be able to take a decision to start membership negotiations "when it is assessed that the necessary criteria have been met".
However, even this wording has encountered objections from several EU countries and it will not be easy to secure the unanimous support needed to pass the decision to the Council.
The meeting in Brussels was also attended by representatives of different entities from Bosnia and Herzegovina that have diametrically opposite differences in their political attitudes.
The Foreign Minister of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Elmedin Konakovic, said that his country has no other alternative besides EU integration.
"I want to remind everyone in Bosnia and Herzegovina that we in the EU export about 75 percent of the goods that we export in general. With the region, this reaches 94 percent. We have no other option, even though some may have sympathy for some other geographical area, we are lucky to have Brussels", said Konakovic.
The meeting in Brussels was also attended by Milorad Dodik, the president of Republika Srpska, who continues to threaten the secession of this entity from Bosnia and Herzegovina.
But, after the meetings in Brussels, Dodiku did not mention this, while he claimed that "the biggest violations of the Constitution of Bosnia and Herzegovina are committed by the high representative, Christian Schmidt.
The political divisions in Bosnia and Herzegovina have been repeatedly cited by the European Union as the main cause of the lack of success in reforms, which would make this state more functional and thus enable a faster progress in the process of integration into EU.
The European Union and NATO have also expressed concerns about Russia's negative influence in Bosnia and Herzegovina, which could endanger the security situation in this country.