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Photograph: hr.wikipedia.org

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.

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