Interview: Deputy Head of EU Delegation in BiH Renzo Daviddi
‘’Citizens of BiH wish to become a part of the EU, but the civil society sector has not exerted enough pressure on political leaders to materialize what they have promised. I do not wish to believe that there is no way to change this situation’’
By Nevena Šarenac
The Deputy Head of the EU Delegation in BiH Renzo Daviddi, in an interview with ‘’Sarajevo Times’’,
speaks about the European future of BiH, and the activities undertaken by the EU Delegation that would
acknowledge the community and citizens of our country. He spoke to us about the first time he visited
BiH as a student in 1975, and noted that at the time some parts of the country were as developed as
some of the most developed parts of Italy, and was comparable to the standards of living in these countries. In recent years, he assessed that the situation has changed because there is less investment in human resource, and BiH politicians are not dealing with substantive issues. Thus, Daviddi suggests that BiH citizens have to exert pressure on political leaders to initiate reform, because they believe that a brighter future awaits them in the EU.
When Do You See BiH in the European Union?
It is very difficult to talk about specific deadlines, especially of the exact year in which BiH could become an EU member state. Accession to the EU is a process that involves different measures and stages that must be implemented. EU accession depends least of all on the EU. Accession largely depends on political leaders and citizens of this country. Specifically, politicians have to think of reforms and measures that are necessary in order for BiH to become a member state. Citizens have to exert pressure on politicians to implement adopted measures, and to take responsibility for their actions. Numerous studies and research shows that BiH citizens would like for their country to enter the EU, but the fact is that the public and civil society sector do not place enough pressure on politicians to put into practice what they promise.
Research by local media is focused on the activities that the EU Delegation to BiH undertakes in partnership with local authorities in order to assist the country in its progress on the path to EU integration. However, the majority of BiH citizens have the impression that this way only serves to affirm and help solve political problems, but not to affirm the citizens of BiH. Can you say for ‘’Sarajevo Times’’ what specific actions the EU Delegation is taking to affirm the communities and citizens of BiH?
I believe that the future of BiH would be brighter in the EU. Everyday, the EU Delegation undertakes various activities that are aimed at helping the community and BiH citizens. The first contribution certainly helps in the process of EU accession, which is reflected in the discussion on all the important issues concerning EU accession, as well as to define the policies and reforms that have to be implemented. Also, material aspects of assistance exist. The fact is that in the last few years, the EU has been the main donor to BiH. Several billion euros have entered this country in various forms of financial assistance. With these funds, several projects have been realized, which have directly affected the lives of BiH citizens. I will point to the reconstruction of Sarajevo City Hall, the construction of a bridge that connects South Doboj and North Doboj, as well as numerous infrastructure projects.
According to some analysis, there are more than 1.5 million citizens living in the EU of BiH origin. They have EU citizenship, which shows that they have successfully integrated in these countries. Also, a large number of young educated Bosnians and Herzegovinians have successfully demonstrated their knowledge and skills working in EU institutions. In addition, there are many individuals and companies that work for the EU market and beyond according to global and EU standards. In your opinion, taking into account that there are many talented individuals in BiH who work and respect EU standards, how is it possible that BiH is lagging behind other countries in the region on the road to the EU?
As a student, I visited the former Yugoslav region with a group of friends in 1975 and that was the first time I was in this part of Europe. I compared Yugoslavia and Italy, and it was obvious that there were parts of the country that were equal to the most developed parts of Italy, and the quality of life in these countries were comparable. It is indisputable that BiH always had strong and quality individuals, but the situation in the last few years has changed, because there is not enough investment in human resources. Suppose that there is a problem in the harmonization of the education system with the labor market. It is necessary to create quality staff that can answer to the demands that currently exist in BiH. The topics that politicians are dealing with are not focused on the right questions. There is much hearsay, but we are not seeing concrete public pressure so that politicians are held accountable for their actions. There are not many new initiatives that could be placed within political discourse. I do not want to believe that there is no way to change this situation.
According to an analysis by the EU Delegation in BiH that says the political and social areas Bosnians and Herzegovinians would have to work more, how would you say that our country moves towards the EU as soon as possible, where politics is not in question?
Joining the EU is a political process that entails the implementation of reforms in order to bring institutional and social changes. The main role of citizens in this process is to exert more pressure on political leaders to implement adopted measures and reforms. In my opinion, politics does not involve only a process in which citizens performs their duties, such as voting. This also in a broader sense implies the participation of citizens in the political life in a way in which they try to demonstrate their opinions on a variety of topics.
In this aspect, does the EU Delegation plan to lend its support to local communities?
Last year, the EU Delegation in BiH began an initiative to visit various BiH municipalities. We organized roundtables and informal occasions, where we had the opportunity to hear the issues that citizens in these local communities are facing. For me, that was a very educational experience because I realized that many of the problems and solutions that are imposed in large measures are different in small areas in comparison to Sarajevo, Banja Luka and Mostar.