news 10 Oct 12

Political Crisis Limits Bosnia's EU Progress

Although the beginning of 2012 saw some steps forward, Bosnia achieved only limited progress in the past year due to its domestic political crisis, an EU report is expected to find.

Elvira M. Jukic

Some forward movement was seen in Sarajevo at the beginning of this year but progress has slowed over the past few months, an EU official said on October 9.

The official, who spoke anonymously, gave the outlines of the annual EU progress reports on the Balkan countries that are scheduled to be released on Wednesday.

EU's enlargement commissioner Stefan Fule told reporters in Brussels:

Regrettably Bosnia and Herzegovina has made limited progress towards meeting the political criteria and achieving more functional, coordinated and sustainable institutional structures.

It is disappointing that commitments under the High Level Dialogue for the Accession Process have not been fulfilled or timelines met. We will continue to engage with the authorities of the country.

The strong public support in Bosnia and Herzegovina for European Union membership needs to be matched by the political will to reach this goal.

The Brussels source said that the EU hopes the authorities in Bosnia will return their focus to the country's EU integration following the October 7 local elections. He added that the EU Road Map given to Bosnian political leaders in Brussels on June 27 is still valid.

“Politicians agreed to a road map and we still believe it is the best possible document that politicians will rely on now after the local elections,” the official said.

The source was referring to a list of obligations and deadlines that were determined at the first high-level dialogue meeting with Bosnian decision-makers in Brussels this year.

The EU still intends to push forward with the plan, despite the fact that the first task it laid out-- the implementation of the Sejdic and Finci human rights ruling by August 31-- was not achieved.

The Sejdic and Finci ruling was brought by the European Court of Human Rights in December 2009, and it directed Bosnia to change its constitution to allow minorities to run for top posts in the government, which are currently reserved only for Bosniaks, Serbs and Croats.

The EU Progress Report will find that Bosnia achieved limited progress because of its failure to implement the ruling, but also due to other unfinished reforms. These include assuring the rule of law, which has been put forward as a goal for all the countries involved in the enlargement process.

Good neighbourly relations are also a focus of the 2012 reports for the region.

According to the official in Brussels, the 2012 EU Progress Reports find that the best efforts were seen in Croatia, which is due to join the European Union in July next year, while progress in Serbia will be seen through its relations with Kosovo.

In Macedonia, high level dialogue will be welcomed in its progress report, while Albania's progress will be viewed through its ability to implement the 12 priorities the country previously determined for its EU path.

The progress reports will be presented by EU Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Fuele as part of an enlargement package which comprises a strategy paper, a feasibility study for a Stabilisation and Association Agreement with Kosovo, and progress reports on the other candidate countries and potential candidates as well as a monitoring report on Croatia.

The current enlargement agenda covers the Western Balkans, Turkey and Iceland.

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