The decision of the European Union (EU) not to grant candidate status to any new country from the Western Balkans at the last summit did not give a positive signal to the region and further undermined the credibility of the accession process, it was said at the conference “EU and the Western Balkans – between mistrust and common interests” organized in Banja Luka by Transparency International Bosnia and Herzegovina (TI BiH).
The international experts, former diplomats, decision-makers from BiH and the surrounding area, and representatives of the academic community and civil society addressed at the conference, and the common conclusion is that the region needs stronger EU engagement, new impetus for integration and support in key reforms such as the rule of law, TI BiH said.
”The desire of the political elites in the countries of the Western Balkans is obviously to maintain the existing situation, and the previous approach of the Brussels administration has many times led to rewarding those who violated the European path, the rule of law, and fundamental civil liberties,” TI BiH pointed out.
On the other hand, they added, internal problems in the EU itself have led to a blockade of the European path and those countries that have met difficult conditions, and the result is a drop in public support for the European integration process, which will certainly be an aggravating factor in the future.
In the case of BiH, it was said that out of 14 key priorities, only one technical condition was met, which referred to the formation of the Parliamentary Committee for European Integration while the authorities blocked all key reforms that would enable the rule of law and the fight against corruption.
”Despite the fact that the vast majority of political actors are committed to European integration, everything that has happened in recent years clearly shows that the key goal of the ruling elites is to obstruct these reforms, preserve the levers of power and the current state of widespread corruption,” IT BiH added.