Ukraine and Moldova received EU candidate status yesterday. This decision was made at the session of the European Council, and President Charles Michel called this a historic moment.
Although some countries, including Austria, advocated for Bosnia and Herzegovina to be granted candidate status, the initiative was not approved.
Frustration great, progress limited
Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer pointed out for the “Avaz” portal that the EU-Western Balkans summit showed that frustration is great, and progress is still limited.
“That is why it was very important for me to offer Bosnia and Herzegovina a perspective. After 3.5 hours, we agreed that if Bosnia and Herzegovina now implements the necessary reforms, the country has a clear possibility for candidate status, as an intermediate step,” said Nehammer.
As he emphasizes, Bosnia and Herzegovina should now implement these national steps, and he hopes that after that, the candidate status will be able to be granted at the end of the year.
“The Western Balkans will continue to be an important partner of Austria. We have a special responsibility. Our security and stability are linked to the Western Balkans. In addition, we have strong economic ties, which provide tens of thousands of jobs in Austria. Therefore, we will continue to support that Bosnia and Herzegovina gets the candidate status after the reforms are implemented,” Nehammer concluded.
It is inconceivable to me that Ukraine gets candidate status, and at the same time countries like Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) do not get it. We must not provoke false expectations in Ukraine either, because the enlargement process is complex and time-consuming, said Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer, noting that there must be no double criteria and first or second-class candidates.
”We must ensure that the same criteria are applied as in other Western Balkan countries seeking candidate status,” said the Austrian chancellor.
He noted that Ukraine is part of the European family, saying that Austria, as a militarily neutral country, supports Ukraine as much as possible in the fight against Russian aggression, as well as efforts to end the war.
”As for the possible candidate status for the European Union (EU), I would like to emphasize that there are clear and already established criteria, which should be adhered to without any ‘if’ and ‘but’,” Nehammer added.
He said that it is necessary to think about intermediate steps in the accession process, such as a European Preparatory Area for membership.
”This preparatory space should not be a substitute for the accession process but go hand in hand and facilitate approximation to EU standards. Austria has already presented concrete ideas to the EU, and President Macron also presented his idea of a “European political community”, which I support. In any case, we will continue to play an active role in the discussion process,” the Austrian chancellor concluded.