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news 19 Jun 15

Bosnia Falls Off Merkel's Balkan Tour

Bosnia's internal quarrels, which have blocked agreed economic and social reforms, have prompted German Chancellor Angela Merkel to cancel her planned visit to Sarajevo.

Srecko Latal
  Angela Merkel I Photo by BundesregierungBergmann

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has cancelled her visit to the Bosnian capital, which was expected for July 9, because of the failure of Bosnian political leaders to carry out agreed reforms, a senior European official told BIRN on Friday.

The visit by Merkel was never officially confirmed but was expected as a part of her Balkan tour and as a sign of Berlin's support for the new EU initiative for Bosnia aimed at restarting its reform agenda.

The EU official said Merkel's visit to the rest of the Balkans will proceed as planned.

Bosnian officials and western diplomats told BIRN on Thursday that any eventual cancellation of the awaited visit to Bosnia would be a major blow to Bosnia's already poor international image, and expressed hopes that the cancellation would be reconsidered.

The German embassy said it was unable to comment on the issue.

A week ago, the Commissioner for European Neighborhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations, Johannes Hahn, scrapped his visit to Bosnia over the failure of Bosnia's politicians to start implementing the reform agenda.

The European official told BIRN that Merkel had scrapped her visit partly because Bosnia's parliaments had failed to adopt labour reforms agreed with EU officials, which would allow the IMF to put together a new support programme for Bosnia by early September.

The political crisis in Bosnia deepened in recent weeks as ruling coalitions in both entities came close to collapse, due to continued political quarrels, which have again blocked the decision-making process.

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