Zovko calls for candidate status for Bosnia and Herzegovina, as enlargement is a matter of peace and security
Rotterdam, 31 May 2022
In the margin of the EPP Congress in Rotterdam, Željana Zovko, Vice President of the EPP Group in the European Parliament, participated in a panel discussion on enlargement hosted by the Wilfried Martens Centre for European Studies. Together with Ivanna Klympush-Tsintsadze, Member of the Ukrainian Verhovna Rada and former Deputy Prime Minister for European and Euro-Atlantic Integration Zovko discussed the EU’s enlargement policy and the possible consequences for the accession process after the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
While the enlargement policy mainly focused for years on the Western Balkans, the recent application of Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova to become candidate countries has brought the accession process higher on the political agenda. In the panel discussion, the participants discussed the EU’s ability and the political readiness to accept new members and how the future of Europe could look like.
Zovko stated in the Western Balkans, the enlargement idea started after the war, as a matter of peace and security. In the meantime, enlargement is going through a crisis and the enlargement process has stalled, says Zovko. She openly calls for more progress on the enlargement agenda, to grant Bosnia and Herzegovina candidate status and to adopt a visa free regime for Kosovo.
Zovko said that during the recent mission of the Committee of Foreign Affairs to Albania and Montenegro people were asking what is happening in the EU. “The Ukrainian case helps people to reinvigorate their motivation for accession. A year ago, we could not have the same discussions on enlargement as today. Now we have to ask ourselves if we will promise things that are unrealistic or if we first want to see transformative changes in those societies that want to join” Zovko stated, adding that the accession procedure is complex and requires big political engagement.
Zovko continued by stating that the Western Balkans cannot longer wait to join the EU, as this is a peace and security issue, similar to the case of Ukraine. “How dangerous the war in the east of Europe is, the situation in the Western Balkans poses a great threat to the south-eastern borders of the European Union. Enlargement is a peace and stability issue, for the borders, for the member states, for the European citizens and for the countries that want to join the EU,” Zovko mentioned. “The European circle without these aspiring states is not complete.” she concluded.