”There are two possible ways for Bosnia and Herzegovina(BiH), after the decision on candidate status, to make a quick turn and speed up its path to the European Union (EU)membership, ” told Adnan Cerimagic, an analyst of the European Stability Initiative (ESI) from Berlin.
A lot of work
”The first, as in the case of North Macedonia, that the new authorities themselves say: “Enough is enough! We are going to do everything that is asked of us and everything that we believe is necessary.” And then work, work and work, regardless of the fact that the opposition, a significant part of the public, some EU member states and part of the coalition partners will tell them that it’s all in vain (because of the situation in the EU, the structures, dynamics and parts of the ruling coalition in BiH),” stated Cerimagic.
He reminds that it took more than five years for the government in Skopje to open negotiations on membership, but that it is not yet sure if and when North Macedonia will become a member of the EU.
”That’s why the second way for BiH could be for the EU, aware of its experience with North Macedonia, the disappointment and stalling of reforms there, as well as the development of the situation that is, unfortunately, expected in Skopje in the coming year, to come with a more concrete offer to the new authorities in BiH. That offer should have the goal of opening membership negotiations in the next few years. A goal that would be accompanied by significant political, technical and financial support to the governments in BiH. All of this should result in very specific and concrete reforms, from the judicial system to the establishment of a system for the use of EU funds and harmonized compliance with EU standards. There is a lot of work there. So far, we have been able to withdraw only twice as much money from EU funds compared to six times smallerMontenegro. And in terms of compliance with the EU, we are behind Kosovo,” told Cerimagic.
New authorities and NATO
Commenting on doubts about membership in NATO, he says that such an offer for BiH is “on the table”.
”Due to the overall situation in BiH and the region, I do not believe that any of the NATO members will insist that accession take place, especially not in the next few years. That is why the new authorities in BiH must and can work to fulfill the conditions for membership and to prepare our military, security and intelligence capacities for membership. Before the political discussions about when it is acceptable to join NATO, we have a lot of concrete work to do,” points out Cerimagic.
Among the multitude of messages from European officials after the European Council adopted the decision on candidate status for BiH, the message of the German envoy for the Western Balkans, Manuel Sarazzin, went somewhat unnoticed. He stated that such a decision “is a clear signal to the citizens of BiH that the future of their homeland is in the EU”, and that “the goal is to transform BiH into a democratic, functional and prosperous member of the EU”.
Expectations of Germany
The part of the message that states that “Germany expects the new BiH authorities to fulfill all the conditions for the start of accession negotiations” is particularly interesting, which can also be interpreted as the goal for this to happen in this mandate.
”Such messages are encouraging. This, first of all, closes the very popular and extremely unproductive stories of recent months about some kind of conditional candidate status and some special constructions and treatment for BiH. My impression, however, is that the thinking in the EU is that BiH has now been given candidate status, that the ball is in BiH yard and that for some time there is no need to devote to BiH. That is, that they would like the new BiH authorities to act without their significant support,” comments Cerimagic, but he does not expect that to happen, especially when we see that the efforts of the authorities in North Macedonia, for example, have not been rewarded.
”That is why the EU must work to offer reforming countries, such as North Maledonia, a more concrete and predictable path to EU membership. That alone will significantly change the dynamics and restore the positive influence of the EU in the region and BiH. Until that happens, unfortunately, some timewill pass. That is why it is important that the Presidency and the Council of Ministers of BiH, as soon as possible, prepare their very specific proposal on what BiH needs to meet the conditions for opening negotiations. And then to present it in the capitals of the most important EU members and in Brussels, where the President of the European Council, Charles Michel, promised political support for the processes back in June of this year. In addition to political help, more concrete support will be needed. It will not come without more active engagement towards the EU on the part of the actors in BiH,” concluded Adnan Cerimagic, analyst of the ESI, Avaz reports.