Bosnia's Presidency Chairman Milorad Dodik handed over the country's final answers to the European Commission's Questionnaire in Brussels on Monday. He also met the European Union's (EU) top officials to discuss Bosnia's accession path.
Before he officially handed the document, Dodik met EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Federica Mogherini, and Commissioner for Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations, Johannes Hahn.
Afterwards, he held a tete-a-tete meeting with Commissioner Hahn.
“It would be a mistake to think that nothing has to be done from now on, it is exactly the opposite, essential reforms have to resume,” said Hahn after the meeting.
Good t receive, w@FedericaMog, t remaining answers t@EU_Commissionquestionnaire fr Chairman@SNSDDodik.@eu_nearnow working on Opinion, which will b basis f@EUCouncildecision on poss.#candidatestatus. Meanwhile, crucial#Bosniaand Herzegovina continues pol & econ reformspic.twitter.com/EJ4OKE0e20— Johannes Hahn (@JHahnEU)March 4, 2019
Addressing a joint press conference with Chairman Dodik, Hahn announced a soon visit to Bosnia.
“We must make and take those decisions to have reasonable expectations. With that regard, I am really looking forward to the visit to Bosnia and Herzegovina by the end of this month, to resume our talks and efforts, to work further on joint interests,” said the EU official pointing out that the Presidency Chairman has come to Brussels for the second time to demonstrate Bosnia's strong dedication.
Dodik, who this time arrived in Brussels without other two members of Bosnia's tripartite Presidency, said all political stakeholders in Bosnia were committed to accession to the EU.
“A month ago three members of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina were here and we said we would be back in February to deliver the completely answered Questionnaire,” he said.
“A specific decision-making system in Bosnia and Herzegovina is slowing down certain activities but a coordination mechanism provided the best modality to harmonise all answers to Europe's questions in order to reach a single answer,” added Dodik.
Bosnia formally applied for EU membership in February 2016 and was to provide answers to the 3,242 questions of the EC's Questionnaire within six months as a part of a regular procedure of obtaining the Commission's opinion on its possible candidate status.
It took the country a year to provide the initial answers because of internal disagreements that stem from deep political and ethnic divisions.
But once the answers were submitted, Brussels sent another 655 follow-up questions that should clarify certain ambiguities. Those were supposed to be answered by September 2018.
Most of the follow-up questions Bosnia's institutions received later refer to political criteria, while the rest relates to the economy, social policy, employment, transportation policy, education and culture.
“The work on all reforms, which were in a stalemate for justified reasons, is lying ahead of us but the public administration reform is something that we must put on agenda,” stressed Dodik.
“The talk with Hahn and Mogherini was very pleasant, we jointly agreed that the answers should have arrived long ago but I am grateful to people in the European Commission for understanding (they showed) for specific decision making in Bosnia and Herzegovina.”
He said his “true friends” were in both Moscow and Brussels and that he was “representing a people and country who must set good relations.”