The European Union cooperates very closely and shares the same priorities with the United States when it comes to the future of Bosnia and Herzegovina and such cooperation is essential in moving the country forward and implementing reforms, EU Special Representative for the Western Balkans, Miroslav Lajcak, said on Saturday.
In a statement to Politicki.ba, Lajcak exemplified this with the recent agreement political leaders signed for the first local election to take place in Mostar after 12 years, arguing that this joint work between the EU and the U.S. were crucial for the process.
“When you applied for EU membership, in February 2016, you made a big step forward and a strategic decision to unequivocally embark on the path of EU integration. Since then, the EU Council has adopted a clear roadmap, including 14 key priorities for the country to move forward on that path. The EU is strongly engaged in Bosnia and Herzegovina to support your country's authorities to implement this agenda,” he said, adding, “Our people are working on it in Sarajevo, Banja Luka and Mostar.”
Lajcak said that the EU has a direct interest when it comes to the fate of its immediate neighbourhood and that it promotes European values and standards and invests significant resources to help the region develop in line with the European perspective.
“With the new European Commission and senior EU leaders, we have a clear commitment, the Western Balkans will be at the centre of the EU's attention. The new methodology of enlargement, as well as the decision to open accession negotiations with Albania and North Macedonia, which should have been adopted a long time ago, represents clear evidence that our interest in the region has been renewed,” he said.
Lajcak also commented on statements that can be heard from some political leaders in Bosnia who often compare the issue of Kosovo’s independence with the status of Bosnia’s Serb-majority Republika Srpska (RS) region.
He said that the talks between Belgrade and Pristina have the goal to contribute to the stability of the entire region.
“As such, we expect all political leaders in the Western Balkans to actively support the process, which means to refrain from any statements that unnecessarily contribute to political divisions and negatively affect good neighbourly relations in the region,” he said, adding that the EU's position has always been clear that it supports the sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Lajcak also commented on the recent elections in Montenegro, saying that they went by in a peaceful and competitive atmosphere.
“The turnout was high and everything was monitored by international and domestic observers, accredited by the State Election Commission. It is encouraging that the newly formed coalition has signed a document confirming the country's foreign policy orientation and European path. We expect this commitment to be clearly presented in the government's program,” he said.
Montenegro achieved a lot of progress when it comes to its EU membership path, he added.