European Council President Donald Tusk said in Sarajevo on Tuesday that despite the challenges faced by Europe and the world today, Bosnia and Herzegovina could count on its EU perspective, provided that it continued implementing reforms necessary for accession to the EU. He called on all democratic countries to counter challenges, such as terrorism and the ongoing refugee crisis, together.
The European Union is ready to provide assistance in stabilising the situation, Tusk told a press conference after meeting members of the Bosnia and Herzegovina Presidency.
He paid his respects to two Bosnian army servicemen who had been killed in a terrorist attack last week, saying that terrorism is a common threat to all who share the democratic values and it knows no boundaries.
Commenting on the refugee crisis, Tusk said that the situation was getting worse because a well-organised net of smugglers had become involved and that was why close cooperation was necessary. He said that a special summit with Turkey would be held next week to address this issue.
The aim is to stop the influx of refugees and migrants into Europe, he said, adding that everyone, including the EU member states, had the responsibility to protect the EU's external borders. In that regard, he stressed the importance of coordination.
Tusk reaffirmed support for Bosnia and Herzegovina's EU path, urging the country's politicians to continue implementing the necessary reforms. I firmly believe that there is no alternative to the European future of Bosnia and Herzegovina, he stressed.
Bosnian authorities believe that at the end of this year or at the start of the next they will apply for the status of a candidate for EU membership. This was confirmed by Presidency Chairman Dragan Covic, who said that he wanted his country to be a good partner to the EU "in these difficult times".
"The security problems that surround us must not stop us on our Euro-Atlantic path," Covic said. He noted that his country had been working hard on the reforms for the last six months, although it was clear that not many people were thinking of EU enlargement under the present circumstances. "We are implementing reforms not for the sake of the EU but for our own sake and this path has no alternative."
Difficult issues, such as a referendum announced by the Serb entity, can be dealt with through dialogue within Bosnia and Herzegovina, Covic said.
Before arriving in Sarajevo, Tusk had visited Serbia, Albania and Macedonia. His next stop is Zagreb where he is scheduled to attend the Brdo-Brijuni Process summit on Wednesday.