The Head of the EU Delegation to Bosnia, Johann Sattler, said in his personal blog that Wednesday's EU-Western Balkans Summit in Zagreb should mark a new beginning for Bosnia and Herzegovina, a beginning craved by almost all Bosnian citizens.
“Today Bosnia is taking a part in the EU-WB Summit, at which neighbouring countries are expected to report solid progress and propose credible regional initiatives. The Summit hosted by the Croatian Presidency was originally scheduled to take place in Zagreb, but because of the pandemic it will be convened in a virtual format – another example of how dramatically things can change in a very short period of time,” he wrote.
Sattler noted that it is now important that old obstacles do not resurface as the country emerges from the crisis, and that is able to make faster progress towards joining the European Union. He added that the door to the European Union remains open and that Bosnian citizens must be able to walk through it.
“Last week three members of Bosnia's Presidency made a renewed commitment to move the country faster on the EU path by addressing 14 priority areas of engagement. The initiative foresees an inclusive process involving the Council of Ministers (Bosnia's government), Parliaments and the coordination mechanism. It also envisages the participation of civil society and experts through different fora,” he specified.
The EU Ambassador pointed out that it is high time for Bosnia's leadership to take steps forward given that these priorities were laid out nearly a year ago and not much has been achieved since.
“Post-electoral and other political disputes have instead made it difficult for the country to promptly proceed with the necessary reforms,” he said.
He then mentioned the country's coordinated and timely response to the spread of the pandemic, putting divisions aside and acting as one.
“In the first weeks of the pandemic outbreak in BiH, it was encouraging to see longstanding issues and obstacles swept aside in order to get citizens the help they need. The pandemic has proven once again how important it is for the country to have functional institutions,” Ambassador Sattler wrote, adding:
“As the world emerges from this crisis, many things will have changed inevitably – and at the virtual EU-Western Balkans Summit taking place today, Bosnia and Herzegovina can make a fresh start. An overwhelming majority of your citizens throughout the entire country aspires to joining the European Union. The Union has worked with this country to address the pandemic; we will work with them to move forward now towards EU integration at a faster rate than was achieved before the crisis.”
This process has been relaunched and there is a seat at the table for everyone, he concluded.