Zovko: the prospect of candidate status for BiH is welcome and deserved, but requires further actions

Brussels, 12 October 2022,

The European Commission has presented its annual Communication on EU enlargement policy and the reports on the enlargement countries in the Western Balkans and Turkey. After the presentation of the reports by Commissioner Varhelyi in the European Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee, Members discussed the progress of the integration process in the different countries.

Željana Zovko, Vice Chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee, welcomed the report on Bosnia and Herzegovina in which the Commission recommends to grant the country candidate status after fulfilling a series of conditions. “The prospect of candidate status is a big step for the country, which it also deserves. It is now up to the political leaders to show their commitment and realize the pending conditions. This will not be an easy task as there has still not been any agreement on the electoral reform, another key reform that is highly needed in the country and, as stated in the Commission report, is ‘an utmost priority’.” Zovko said.

According to Zovko, one of the main failures of Bosnia and Herzegovina mentioned in the country report is that the Presidency was marred by continued lack of consensus on key issues. “The formation of the BiH Presidency remains an unresolved issue. It is regrettable that this body that was created in the Dayton Peace Agreement is divided in these times of security threats and this blockade halts the entire country. It pulls BiH away from the EU. Also the reports states that there is a clear lack of progress on the functioning of the coordination mechanism and on developing and adopting a national programme for the adoption of the EU acquis,” Zovko stated, while adding that the EU remains main provider of financial assistance to Bosnia and Herzegovina via the Instrument for Pre‑accession Assistance.

Zovko points out that the report notes that electoral reform was unsuccesful despite an intense facilitation of talks by the EU and US and that a number of Constitutional Court cases still need to be implemented. “The recent intervention by High Representative Schmidt forms a first step towards the proper functioning of the institutions. Now it is time for the political leaders to resume the negotiations and find a lasting agreement on the equal representation of constituent peoples and other citizens at all levels,” Zovko said.

The MEP also expressed her regret that in Bosnia and Herzegovina there are still no appointments within the Ministry for Foreign Affairs for those persons in charge of performing the functions of political director and of European correspondent. In addition, she underlines that the disagreements have led to the lack of strategy on local self-government in either entity. Zovko said that this is why European financial assistance could not not be properly used at local level.

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