Austria has been advocating for the rapid admission of Bosnia and Herzegovina to the European Union for years and strongly advocated candidate status, which was granted on the condition that the steps specified in the recommendation of the European Commission be taken, the Austrian Embassy in Sarajevo announced.
At the same time, Austria advocates for the flexibility of the European Union in the accession process.
Already in May 2022, Minister of Foreign Affairs Alexander Schallenberg and Minister for Europe Karoline Edtstadler submitted a proposal to dynamize the stagnant enlargement process. Building on that, Federal Ministers Schallenberg and Edtstadler now want to further develop these proposals and identify specific areas of action and policy areas, in order to intensify the integration of the Western Balkans, the press release states.
Minister for Europe Karoline Edtstadler said that “we now have to come up with something new for the Western Balkans and speed up the enlargement”.
“Tangible steps and a meaningful incentive system for reforms are needed; otherwise we will lose people in that region. With our proposals, which take us further in terms of gradual integration, we want to bring the countries of the Western Balkans more dynamically closer institutionally, financially and based on specific areas. It’s not worth wasting any more time. Geopolitical reality requires pace and innovative approaches,” she stated.
Minister of Foreign Affairs Alexander Schallenberg said that enlargement is the most powerful geostrategic instrument of the European Union.
“Let’s use it as such. We must not wait until the accession candidates have fully implemented the acquis of the European Union, but before that we should integrate them in those political areas where this is possible. We must not make a mistake and, with all the justified focus on the east, forget the south-east of Europe. Austria is and remains a strong provider of impetus for the gradual approach of the Western Balkans to the European Union,” said Schallenberg, according to a statement from the Austrian Embassy in Sarajevo.