The process of Bosnia and Herzegovina's integration with the EU will remain on hold until Serb entity authorities change their decision and agree to an amended provisional trade agreement between Bosnia and Herzegovina and the EU, Bosnia and Herzegovina Presidency chairman Bakir Izetbegovic said in Sarajevo on Monday.
Addressing a news conference, Izetbegovic confirmed the three-member Presidency had decided to postpone its position on the outcome of negotiations during which new provisions of the temporary trade agreement with the EU had been agreed as a precondition for the EU to consider Bosnia and Herzegovina's application for EU candidate status.
The Presidency was to have decided on the matter today, but Izetbegovic confirmed that the item was taken off the agenda so that there was no outvoting in the Presidency.
The decision is a result of the Serb entity authorities' conclusion that the adjusted provisional trade agreement with the EU is not acceptable to them. The entity authorities say that an increased customs-free import of farm and food products from Croatia will cause damage to the domestic agricultural and food sectors.
Izetbegovic said that the position of the Serb entity was entirely unfounded because during the talks with the European Commission, which were completed in late May, favourable conditions had been agreed for Bosnia and Herzegovina and that they would now simply disappear.
"Agriculture and economy in both entities will be affected. We had favourable quotas. Now our goods will not be able to leave Bosnia and Herzegovina. We will not get IPA funds," said Izetbegovic.
He said that the latest blockade was due to campaigning for local elections to be held in October and expressed hope that after that, the process of the country's integration with the EU would continue.
The head of the EU Delegation in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Lars-Gunnar Wigemark, said that requests from the Serb entity for renegotiating what had already been agreed were unacceptable.
Similarly to Izetbegovic, Wigemark, too, said the latest problem was solely a result of political games between different levels of authority in the country.
Politicians in Bosnia and Herzegovina are obviously preoccupied with local elections, he said.