Authorities in the "Republika Srpska" Serb entity in Bosnia and Herzegovina on Friday agreed to the amending of the Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA) between Bosnia and Herzegovina and the European Union, whereby removing obstacles on that country's journey the European Union (EU).
A formal agreement to amend the SAA so as to open Bosnia's market for limited customs-free imports from Croatia was given by the Serb member of the three-man presidency, Mladen Ivanic.
After that the Presidency held a conference call and confirmed accepting the result of negotiations to amend the SAA which ended in May. 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.
Earlier, Bosnian Serb leader Milorad Dodik said that that entity agreed with the adaptations to the trade section of the SAA and that representatives of agricultural and food producing associations had also given their consent.
Dodik explained that the decision was made after mediation by Germany's Federal Minister of Food and Agriculture, Christian Schmidt, who visited Sarajevo earlier in the week and promised that his government would offset any possible losses that Bosnia's agriculture might suffer as a result of increased food imports from EU member-states.
According to Dodik's interpretation the amended SAA could come into force on January 1, next year.
The adaptation of the SAA was an essential precondition for Bosnia ahead of a EU foreign ministers council meeting next week to discuss approving Bosnia's application for candidate status submitted in February.
Should EU foreign ministers next week conclude that Bosnia has met that condition, procedures would be launched which would mean that by the end of 2017 Bosnia could gain candidate status for membership.
Dodik has been a harsh opponent to adapting the SAA over the past few months, claiming that imports from Croatia would cause millions of euro in damage to Bosnia's local production.
At one stage he even conditioned the SAA adaption with the demand that Croatia builds a bridge across the Sava River in Gradiska.
Being exposed to obvious pressure by Germany, Dodik ceded in the end, in that an analysis of possible losses be made and technical support be given to Bosnia's farmers who could be affected.