The amended Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA) between the European Union and Bosnia and Herzegovina was initialled in Sarajevo on Monday, thus paving the way for the customs-free import of agricultural produce from Croatia into Bosnia as of 2017.
This move ensued after last week, Bosnia and Herzegovina's three-man presidency accepted the result of negotiations to amend the SAA. The amendments were accepted some time back by other countries in the region while Bosnia and Herzegovina adamantly refused to do so since Croatia's accession to the EU in mid-2013.
"This is a good agreement both for Bosnia and Herzegovina and for our member-states," said Lars-Gunnar Wigemark, the head of the EU delegation in Sarajevo, after the document was initialled.
He expressed satisfaction with today's event, commenting that there was not such a fuss in any other country regarding the amendments to the SAA after Croatia's admission to the Union.
The chairman of the Bosnia and Herzegovina team for the negotiations with the EU, Hamdo Tinjak, today thanked EU negotiators for understanding for Sarajevo in the negotiations in the past six months, adding that his country was given maximum concessions.
Bosnia's Minister of Foreign Trade, Mirko Sarovic, described the endorsement of the modified SAA as a very important moment when barriers on Bosnia's journey towards the status of candidate for the EU membership were removed.
The next step is the ratification of the modified agreement in Bosnia's legislature as well as in parliaments of the 28 EU member-states.
The modification of the SAA is an essential precondition for Bosnia's efforts to be award the status of EU candidate after it submitted the request to that effect in mid-February.
Bosnia and Herzegovina's authorities used to refuse the modification of the SAA for two years, insisting that the customs-free imports from Croatia would affect the local agricultural sector.