- Bosnia and Herzegovina
- All Balkan Countries
While some politicians say the country is ready to submit a formal application soon, the consensus is that few in Brussels will take the idea seriously.
As Serbia gets ever closer to obtaining candidate country status in the European Union, some Bosnian politicians, against all odds, say that their country is also ready to submit its own candidacy application.
Bakir Izetbegovic, member of Bosnia’s tripartite State Presidency, recently suggested Bosnia might apply by the end of the year and predicted that the application would likely be accepted.
Osman Topcagic, Bosnia’s ambassador to the EU, told Balkan Insight that Bosnia is expected to submit an application at some point and there is no question that the country could technically do so.
“But what is questionable is whether Bosnia would have a credible application,” Topcagic admitted.
The latest progress report by the European Commission on Bosnia, published in October, is considered the harshest since the first in 2006, according to Foreign Policy Initiative, a trust of independent experts that specializes in analysis of Bosnia’s foreign policy.
Bosnia and Herzegovina would be irresponsible and frivolous if it even tried to submit an application now, the NGO added, as it does not even have a state government and has not had one since the last general election in October 2010.
In the October progress report, Brussels noted that Bosnia had not carried out most of the requested domestic reforms and the political climate was still dominated by nationalistic rhetoric.
Another issue of concern remains the delays in altering Bosnia’s constitution to meet the terms of the European Court of Human Rights judgment in the Sejdi-Finci case of December 2009.
The Strasbourg Court judged that Bosnia’s constitution needed to guarantee the right of ethnic minorities to be elected to high office.
This is not possible according to the current constitution, which reserves positions for members of the country’s three main constituent communities, Serbs, Bosniaks and Croats.
“Of all its neighbours, Bosnia’s EU integration process is the worst and it has got worse over the last two years,” Denisa Sarajlic-Maglic, director of Foreign Policy Initiative, said. “The country has regressed.”
Failure to form a new state-level government 14 months after general elections and failure to adopt a law on State Aid also contributed to the EC report’s negative tone. The aid law is designed to ensure greater financial accountability at all levels of government.
The Foreign Policy Initiative said that by announcing a forthcoming EU membership application, some politicians had only fuelled a perception of an irresponsible country.
“The EU cannot even renew Bosnia’s Stabilization and Association Agreement because there is no state-level Government to implement it,” Sarajlic-Maglic noted.
In comparison to its neighbours, only Bosnia and Kosovo have not applied for EU membership.
Croatia is expected to join the EU in 2013, while Macedonia obtained candidate country status in 2005 and is currently seeking a start date for talks on membership. Montenegro also hopes to open accession negotiations shortly.
The Hague Tribunal has been successful in bringing wartime commanders to justice but hasn’t met expectations on reconciliation, chief prosecutor Serge Brammertz told BIRN.