Diplomats say Bosnia not ready for EU candidate status, its politicians ignorants

Not one European Union member state currently supports considering Bosnia and Herzegovina's application for membership candidate status, and Bosnian politicians are showing a lot of ignorance of procedures and the prerequisites that need to be met, Dutch Ambassador to Bosnia Jurriaan Kraak said in Sarajevo on Wednesday, singling out state Presidency member Dragan Covic as an example of such ignorance.

Speaking at a round table on the European integration process in Bosnia, Kraak, whose country is the current EU president, said that at this moment no one in the EU felt that Bosnia deserved candidate status.

Bosnia applied for the status in February but is having trouble meeting clearly set prerequisites, such as the alignment of the Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA) or the adoption of a mechanism for coordinating relations with the EU.

Kraak said Bosnia's expectations about being granted membership candidate status virtually were unrealistic as it was a complex process lasting 12 to 18 months, provided the prerequisites set were swiftly met.

He said Covic did not know what he was talking about when mentioning July as the month when key decisions for approving membership candidate status could be met.

German Ambassador to Bosnia Christian Helbach too criticised Bosnian politicians, accusing them of constantly doing one thing and saying another, this time regarding European integration.

In an interview with Klix portal, he said everything in Bosnia boiled down to trading in concessions between the political elites, from which only they benefited, so that it was not surprising that nothing had been done since February 15, when Bosnia submitted the application for membership candidate status, to make it happen.

Granting the status would be possible in theory at the end of 2017 if the next step was initiated without delay and if Bosnia effectively and constructively cooperated with the European Commission, but if the political leaders can't agree on a coordination mechanism or the alignment of the SAA, I don't think the Council of the EU will be able to deal with the application before the summer recess, Helbach said.

The stalemate in reform implementation has prompted German Chancellor Angela Merkel to invite the Bosnian Presidency members to Berlin on Thursday.

Unlike the foreign diplomats, Presidency Chairman Bakir Izetbegovic has downplayed his country's problems, telling reporters today, "I think we will solve all the important problems BiH is facing over the next year... I'm confident that 2017 will be a particularly good year for BiH."

Last update: Wed, 29/06/2016 - 17:33

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