EU Special Representative to BiH Johann Sattler said in Banja Luka today that BiH has a chance to gain EU candidate status, but that those responsible must “take certain steps” to make European politicians more credible.
“It would be a good signal to the people of BiH, but we do not want it to be seen as a reward to politicians who have done little so far,” Sattler told reporters.
He called on politicians in BiH to use the time before the elections to take certain steps, first of all to pass laws related to public procurement, conflict of interest and the High Judicial and Prosecutorial Council, but also to have fun with next year’s budget.
He stated that very little has been done in the past period, and pointed out that not enough is being done on cases of corruption and organized crime.
He reminded that BiH submitted the request seven years ago and that very few conditions have been met since then, but also that countries like Slovenia, Croatia and Austria are advocating granting BiH candidate status.
Speaking about Ukraine, Sattler stated that candidate status is one thing, and EU membership is another.
“To my surprise, in the middle of the war, Ukraine adopted a set of anti-corruption laws. Of course, it is necessary to see how the laws will be implemented, but what is a good signal is that this is the beginning of a long process,” Sattler said.
Ambassador Johann Sattler, the Head of EU Delegation to BiH and EU Special Representative in BiH, underlined that time is running out while the amount of work to be achieved by the country to strengthen the rule of law and regain citizens’ trust in the judiciary keeps growing. “It gives me no pleasure to say that not a single EU priority rule of law reform has been completed during the past years. In December 2019, the EU released a report drafted by the independent expert Reinhard Priebe on the rule of law in Bosnia and Herzegovina. This report listed a number of very concrete recommendations and actions to be undertaken for the country to confirm its unquestionable commitment to the EU integration path. 81% of BiH citizens in a recent survey we conducted say there have been no improvements in the justice system in the past five years. There needs to be a greater urgency from BiH authorities about strengthening the rule of law”,said Ambassador Sattler.