The European Parliament's rapporteur onr Bosnia and Herzegovina, Cristian Dan Preda, has accused Bosnian Serb authorities of obstructing the country's progress on the path to EU membership, saying that he was utterly disappointed with the latest developments in the country, the Sarajevo-based Dnevni Avaz daily reported on Monday.
We are witnessing something that could, without a doubt, jeopardise Bosnia and Herzegovina's chances of obtaining EU candidate status, Preda said.
His reaction came after representatives of Bosnian Serb authorities on Sunday confirmed their opposition to amendments to a provisional trade agreement between Bosnia and Herzegovina and the European Union, which were to have opened Bosnia and Herzegovina's market to customs-free imports of farm and food products from Croatia, a privilege imports from other EU member-countries have enjoyed for a long time.
The agreed adjustments of the agreement would have given producers in Bosnia and Herzegovina a possibility of increased food exports to EU countries, however, the Bosnian Serb authorities insist the agreement would only cause damage to local farmers in the amount of up to EUR 100 million annually.
Preda said the provisional trade agreement was not the only problem and that problematic was also the fact that almost any task that had to be carried out in order to continue the process of integration with the EU was being endlessly politicised and complicated, and he pointed the finger at the Bosnian Serb authorities.
First we are told that there is agreement on a coordination mechanism, on the publication of the census results, and on the adjustment of the Stabilisation and Association Agreement, and then Republika Srpska challenges that and acts contrary to the integration process. There can be no progress in reforms, especially not in the European integration process, if there is a threat of blockade at every step of the way, said Preda.
The situation on the ground proves that politicians in Bosnia and Herzegovina only pay lip service to integration with the EU and actually cheat their own people, he warned.
Preda's strong-worded warning comes after it has become evident that due to internal political games and obstruction the country will lose the chance of launching this summer a procedure that would eventually result in its being granted EU candidate status in 2017.
The President of the Serb entity of Republika Srpska, Milorad Dodik, said in Banja Luka on Sunday that the entity wanted new talks with the EU on the adjustment of the provisional trade agreement because it did not accept the already agreed adjustments.
He also said that Croatia would not be given any concessions that required the consent of the Serb entity until the construction of a bridge over the Sava River at Gradiska was launched.
Dodik said the project, which the Serb entity considers vital for its transport infrastructure as the bridge would connect a highway running from Banja Luka towards the Sava River with the Zagreb-Lipovac highway, had been obstructed by Croatia for years.
In a message to his political partners in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Dodik said that he would not conduct with them any talks until the issue of processing and publishing results of the 2013 census was settled.
The Bosnian Serb authorities insist on removing from the census 196,000 persons, mostly Bosniaks (Muslims) from the Serb entity, who they believe did not provide sufficient information to have their status of permanent residents in that entity recognised.