Speed Reforms, Unite Against Crisis, EU to Bosnia

20094818454891734_51Bosnia must speed up European integration reforms to catch up with neighbours and unite political forces against the economic crisis, the EU presidency chairman said on Thursday.

Foreign ministers of the current Czech, previous French and future Swedish EU presidency visited Bosnia this week to review reform progress and tell rival leaders they may lead the country into isolation unless they act quickly.

“We are a bit scared about the development in the past year and the fact that Bosnia-Herzegovina is lagging behind … the neighbouring states,” Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg said upon arrival.

Schwarzenberg said he was, however, encouraged after talking to the Balkan country’s policymakers. “I do think that general attitude worked very well, that mood is good, and the only thing is that time is running out,” he said.

“If you lose time, you lose very precious time,” he added. “I think that you have to realise that you have to speed up.”

Last June, Bosnia signed the Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA) with the European Union, the first step towards eventual membership of the wealthy bloc.

But little has been done on SAA implementation as Bosnian Serb, Bosnian Muslim and Bosnian Croat leaders remain deadlocked in their quarrels, recently forcing the international community to extend the mandate of an international peace envoy.


Sweden’s Foreign Minister Carl Bildt said this week that Bosnia could not apply for EU membership as long as it was supervised by the international High Representative.

“The more you divide yourself, the more complicated you make your life, and Europe is not interested in a divided Bosnia-Herzegovina,” Schwarzenberg said.

The ministers also expressed concern about the economic situation in the country which is now in recession and is facing lower industrial output and exports as well as job cuts.

Bosnia is set to begin talks next week with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on a stand-by loan deal.

“In times of crisis, it is essential that the central government can make fast decisions,” Schwarzenberg said, urging the country’s two regions, the Muslim-Croat federation and the Serb Republic, to act together to combat the crisis.

Check Also

Experts react: What did the European Council just say about Ukraine and Bosnia and Herzegovina?

“We are not intimidated by Russia, and we are absolutely on the side of Ukraine.” …