Bosnia and Herzegovina has no alternative to its European Union path and that requires a consensus of its political leaders, it was concluded at a conference -- "The European Path of Bosnia and Herzegovina: Challenges and Prospects"-- held in Zagreb on Friday and organised by the European Parliament's Information Office in Croatia.
"Bosnia and Herzegovina's European path will have a positive impact on the strengthening of state structures there," Croatia's Foreign and European Affairs Minister Miro Kovac said in his opening remarks.
"I am glad that consensus exists in Croatia concerning its support for Bosnia and Herzegovina's accession to the European Union and that our European MEPs from all political groups have helped and encouraged Bosnia and Herzegovina's leadership to submit its accession application," Kovac said.
He added that it was necessary to maintain the current European momentum and continue achieving concrete results, and announced the signing of an agreement on European partnership between Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Tonino Picula, a Croatian MEP and Chairman of the Delegation for Relations with Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo, warned that "regardless of the obvious progress made, at the moment we are in an exceptionally important transition."
"Every step by Bosnia and Herzegovina toward European objectives will have to deform Dayton institutions in the way they were conceived and realised in practise since 1995," he said, adding that that was not an ideological interpretation but "dry pragmatism." Over the next few weeks it will become evident whether politicians in and outside Bosnia and Herzegovina will agree on that and begin to work together, Picula concluded.
Lars-Gunnar Wigemark, head of the Delegation of the European Union to Bosnia and Herzegovina and European Union Special Representative to Bosnia and Herzegovina, believes that the Dayton Agreement must not be terminated, but that it needs to be operationally facilitated in practise. He underscored that Bosnia and Herzegovina urgently required broad social-economic reforms.
He believes that it is necessary to adapt the Stabilisation and Accession Agreement, which entered into force on 1 June last year, and ensure greater coordination of Bosnia's political leadership.
We have to remind all 14 parties that have undertaken to cooperate, to put their differences aside because it's time for action, and membership of the EU requires their consensus, Wigemark said.
Bosnia and Herzegovina's Deputy Foreign Minister Josip Brkic warned that his country was catching the last train to join the EU. "The EU is the only prospect that dragged Bosnia and Herzegovina out of the situation it was in in February 2014 which could have turned into a much greater disaster," Brkic said, expressing hope that Bosnia and Herzegovina could be given EU candidate status by the end of 2017.
Bosnia and Herzegovina on 15 February officially submitted its application for European Union membership. The European Parliament adopted a resolution in April on the country's progress toward the EU in 2015, in which it welcomed the first positive progress report by the European Commission.