Brussels Worries for Bosnia’s EU Path

Brussels – The EU has warned politicians in Bosnia they are jeopardising the country’s Euro-Atlantic integration with the heated nationalist rhetoric.

“We are concerned about the rhetoric which is growing and this rhetoric cannot contribute to the objective of getting Bosnia and Herzegovina more engaged with the European Union and Euro-Atlantic institutions,” the bloc’s foreign policy chief Javier Solana said in Brussels.

He called on leaders in Sarajevo and the biggest town in Bosnia’s Serb-dominated entity, Banja Luka to keep working together to stabilise the country because “it is the only way to join in institution they want to join.”

Solana met NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer at the regular NATO-EU meeting, while the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina was the main focus of discussions. The NATO chief expressed his concern about the heated statements by some politicians in the country.

“The situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina is of course secure and stable but the political rhetoric leads to concern,” Scheffer said. “We will have to address and we will address,” he added.

Jaap de Hoop Scheffer promised he would send his deputy soon to Sarajevo, “to take the temperature of the water.”

EU diplomats promise that Bosnia and Herzegovina will be the priority of the EU’s foreign policy in the future.

According to these sources, “the country was left aside” in recent months due to the active engagement of EU officials on the Kosovo question.

Last week the EU Enlargement Commissioner, Olli Rehn, said Bosnia has made “a significant step forward” by signing a key pre-membership deal called the Stabilisation and Association Agreement on June 16.

“The EU could initial the Stabilisation and Association Agreement last December and sign it in June because the country’s political leaders pulled together and reached consensus on the main conditions, particularly police reform. This proves that progress can be achieved and crises overcome, when the political will exists,” Rehn said in his speech.
“However, this consensus has since collapsed and reforms halted,” Rehn said.

“Nationalist rhetoric ahead of the October local elections was a factor in this deterioration. Yet, the country’s political problems run much deeper.”

His statement came after the former United States diplomat Richard Holbrooke and former High Representative Paddy Ashdown published an article urging European Union and US leaders to reinforce their engagement in Bosnia and halt a new crisis which threatens to bring the country to collapse.

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