Bosnia does not enjoy a high reputation in the European Union and its politicians should focus on the recommendations that the European Commission set in May 2019 as a condition towards the candidate status, European Stability Initiative's analyst Adnan Cerimagic told N1.
According to Cerimagic, there is no doubt about the relations between the Western Balkans and the Union but how to make it the most quality and useful for both sides.
The EU-Western Balkans relationship and its importance are often discussed, he said, and the current pandemic showed how the region and the bloc are connected.
“Whether it is about the trade, the role of the Western Balkan population in the EU, who migrated not only during the 1990s wars but after the wars to work and live here. Only in Germany there is 50,000 of those working in the health system and their contribution is immense,” said Cerimagic.
Commenting on the EU-Western Balkans summit, which was initially set to take place in Zagreb on May 6 but was moved online, the analyst said this meeting was a chance to convey a message of mutual solidarity at the time of crisis.
“This summit is a chance to politically confirm that approach where we all are together,” he said.
The reason why the EU might have had sort of an “EU-centric” stand on this issue in the beginning, he explained, was because Spain and Italy were in the heart of pandemic. According to him, the summit will send a message that the Western Balkan countries have not been forgotten, that initiatives coming from this region are welcome and that the EU will try to respond to each of them.
A chance to try the new methodology to define the vision of the Western Balkans and the EU was missed but perspective is still there, he stressed. Now it is up to the region to reassure the member states it is ready to take next steps.
Speaking of Bosnia's road to the European Union, the analyst specialising in EU, human rights and democracy, said it was interesting how the focus of attention shifted from political to healthcare topics.
“What's interesting is the way how over the past weeks the major part of the narrative in media and public has been completely shifted. The issue of the constitutional court, top political subjects have been simply shifted to the topics of the health system, economic policies, whether there is financial ground to fight the pandemic, public procurements, etc.,” he said, noting that this portrays a bad approach, while the focus should remain on the European Commission's recommendations from May 2019.
“European Union set 14 priorities that include many things. Bosnia and Herzegovina must work on those priorities in order to be recommended for the candidate status. Bosnia's reputation is bad, expectations are low,” said Cerimagic.
“There are politicians in Bosnia and Herzegovina – but also the ones who participate in that process, those who see the importance of getting together and discussing all topics. But, we shouldn't be so far from the recommendation, provided that politicians and civil sector get together in a special way and try to insist on this topic towards one direction,” he added.