Brussels, Washington back German-UK plan to help Bosnia join EU | News | DW | 06.11.2014
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Brussels, Washington back German-UK plan to help Bosnia join EU

The European Union and the United States have expressed support for a German-UK plan to revive Bosnia's moribund bid to join the EU. However, it would require Bosnian politcians to agree on significant economic reforms.

The newly appointed foreign policy coordinator of the European Union, Federica Mogherinia said in a statement on Thursday that she wholeheartedly supported the initiative, announced in a joint letter from German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier and his British counterpart, Philip Hammond, to Bosnian politicians.

"We all agree that after the recent (October) elections Bosnia and Herzegovina should not remain in a stalemate, Mogherini said. "A new spirit is needed to effectively deal with reforms which are the key not only for the EU way of the country, but also and mainly for its citizens' lives," she added.

US State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki also welcomed the initiative, saying the aftermath of the country's elections provided an opportunity "to build a more effective, democratic and prosperous state.

In the letter, which followed a conference held in Berlin on Wednesday, they offered to push the EU to endorse a Stabilisation and Association Agreement with Bosnia, if its leaders committed to making a series of economic reforms.

"We want you to succeed - and we want you as members of the European Union, of the European family," their letter said.

"However, there is only one path into the European Union - through reforms that help Bosnia and Herzegovina reach the standard of governance and economic development of EU member states," it added.

Unlocking EU funding

The endorsement of the Stabilisation and Association Agreement could be a key development in efforts to improve Bosnia's struggling economy, as it would unlock EU funding for the country.

The two foreign ministers said they would push for this, even before Bosnia complies with a ruling handed down by the European Court of Human Rights in 2009, which would require the country to scrap a constitutional provision that would stipulate that only Bosniaks, Serbs and Croats are eligible to hold the country's rotating presidency. Bosnia's failure to do so has until now effectively left its bid to move closer to the EU on ice.

Steinmeier and Hammond, though, stressed that this did not mean that EU entry requirements were being watered down.

However, there appeared to be no indication thatthe politicians of Bosnia, which is made up of a mainly Bosniak-Croat and a mainly Serb entity - along with a relatively weak central government - would be able to agree on the economic reforms the two EU foreign ministers have requested.

pfd/glb (Reuters, AP)

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