The United States and its partners are concerned because there are many unresolved issues in the Western Balkans region and Bosnia and Herzegovina is a special problem, where constant political disputes threaten to delay commenced reform processes, US Deputy Assistant Secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs Hoyt Yee said in Sarajevo on Tuesday.

Countries in the region are continuing to have serious difficulties in the fight against corruption and in their efforts to establish the rule of law, however, some progress exists and that is particularly evident in Montenegro, which is a step away from NATO membership, and Albania's achievements are also significant, Yee told a press conference.

The US sees Bosnia and Herzegovina as a neuralgic spot in this part of Europe and strongly supports the EU initiative to bring the country closer to the EU through the implementation of reforms.

That initiative was launched late 2014 and last year the first visible signs appeared. However, now there is a deadlock because of delays in an agreement being reached on a mechanism to coordinate relations with Brussels, the alignment of the Interim Trade Agreement, and the publication of the results of the population census conducted in 2013, without which Bosnia and Herzegovina cannot provide credible information required for it to be granted candidate status for EU membership.

In addition, it appears that local elections called for October could additionally heighten the political rhetoric and disputes, which equally worries the USA and EU.

Yee told reporters that the US is concerned with the deadlock in reform processes.

There is a risk that Bosnia and Herzegovina will continue to fall behind the region because other states are implementing reforms, while politicians in Bosnia and Herzegovina are continuing to have difficulty in agreeing on the necessary steps, Yee said, explaining that Washington is urging politicians in Bosnia and Herzegovina to show decisiveness in reaching an agreement of contentious issues.

He added that the difficulty of the reforms required cannot be an excuse to avoid them.

He called on Bosnia and Herzegovina to strengthen ties with NATO even though, due to the unfinished registration of properties in the country, it was doubtful that the country would be given the green light at the next NATO summit in Warsaw to activate its Membership Action Plan (MAP).

Activation of MAP was blocked due to objections by the Republika Srpska entity to register barracks and military training grounds to the state's defence ministry. The government in this Serb entity is asking that those properties be registered to the two entities which would in turn lease them to the state and its defence forces, which is unacceptable to NATO.

Commenting on the weekend's protest rallies in Banja Luka by government supporters and opposition sympathisers, Yee said that the US supports the right of citizens to democratic and non-violent action to express their views of society.

Related stories

Latest news

Syrian opposition rules out future role for President al-Assad

The Syrian opposition said Friday it would not accept any role for President Bashar al-Assad in the future of the war-torn country, reacting to a recent US shift saying that removing al-Assad is no longer a priority for Washington.

Russian Army integrates breakaway forces of Georgian province

Parts of the small fighting forces of the Georgian breakaway province of South Ossetia have been placed under Russian military control, Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said on Friday.

Czech Republic's Pilsner Urquell beer is now Japanese

Japanese brewing company Asahi completed its takeover of the Czech brewery Pilsner Urquell on Friday, Asahi said in a statement.

Judge approves 25-million-dollar settlement of Trump University case

A US district judge on Friday approved a 25-million-dollar settlement of lawsuits and state fraud allegations against Trump University, the US president's now-defunct business venture.

Former Thai premier Thaksin to junta on reconciliation: 'Cut me out'

Former Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra on Friday announced that he is not interested in the junta-led reconciliation process, three days after the junta handed him a half-a-billion-dollar tax bill for his past business deal.

Dalic: We welcome possible deal between Agrokor and banks

The government welcomes the possibility of an agreement being concluded between the Agrokor food company and creditor banks, and the bill on vitally important companies is not a fallback plan but the result of the government's care for the overall economic and financial stability of Croatia, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Economy Martina Dalic told a press conference in Zagreb on Friday.

Croatia, China sign action plan for cooperation in agriculture

The Croatian and Chinese ministries of agriculture on Friday signed an action plan for cooperation in the field of agriculture for the period 2017-2018, the Croatian ministry said in a statement.

ZSE indices up, Agrokor shares in focus of investor interest

The Zagreb Stock Exchange (ZSE) indices on Friday rose by more than 1.8%, with stocks of the Agrokor food and retail concern being in the focus of investor interest again.

Berlin police defend handling of Berlin market attacker

Berlin police defended themselves on Friday against accusations that they stopped surveillance on Berlin Christmas market attacker despite knowing in June 2016 he was dangerous.

Croatia, creditors tailor emergency measures to save tottering giant

Croatia's tottering retail and food giant Agrokor reached an agreement with its creditors, putting its debts standby and allowing it to continue working during emergency restructuring, the Croatian branch of Austria's Erste Bank said Friday.

Agrokor's creditors say standstill agreement to go into force today

A standstill agreement regarding the Agrokor concern's existing financial obligations to banks will take effect on Friday, additional capital will be injected into the concern in the coming days and the concern will be actively restructured, which includes a change of its management, it was said on Friday after a meeting between Agrokor's suppliers and creditor banks.

Palestinians, UN slam Israel's new settlement plan

Palestinians, Israeli activists and the UN lambasted the government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday, a day after it gave the go-ahead for the first new West Bank settlement in a quarter of a century.

South Sudan rebels release three abducted foreign oil workers

South Sudanese rebels have released three foreign engineers they abducted in early March in the oil-rich Upper Nile region, Foreign Affairs Ministry official Mawein Makol Arik said on Friday.

Turkish opposition: Imprisoned party chief has gone on hunger strike

The head of Turkey's pro-Kurdish opposition party has launched a hunger strike from prison.

European leagues threaten Champions League schedule clashes

The European Professional Football Leagues (EPFL) on Friday threatened schedule clashes on Champions League matchdays in an ongoing dispute with the governing body UEFA.

Danish court revokes citizenship of IS volunteer

A Danish appellate court on Friday stripped a man of his Danish citizenship for volunteering to fight for the extremist Islamic State in Syria.

Banks and Agrokor agree on key elements of standstill agreement

Member banks of the coordinating committee of financial creditors and representatives of the Agrokor food company have in principle agreed on key elements of a standstill agreement, which is expected to be signed later today, announcing changes in the company's management team, Erste Bank said in a statement on Friday afternoon.

Syrian man on trial in Sweden; mosque attack labelled terrorism

A Syrian man went on trial Friday in the southern Swedish city of Malmo, charged with terrorism and arson after an attack last year on a building used as an assembly hall by Shiite Muslims.