European Union leaders voted on Thursday that Bosnia and Herzegovina would be a candidate for the bloc of 27 countries.
Today, Bosnia and Herzegovina were granted the title of candidate country. In a tweet, Charles Michel, President of the European Council, stated that this was a strong message to the people and also an expectation for new authorities to implement reforms.
The EU’s general affairs ministers had reached an agreement on Bosnia’s candidate status earlier in the week.
The country will join other EU candidate countries – Albania and Moldova, Montenegro and Serbia, Turkey, Turkey, and Ukraine. This process can take years. It involves complicated negotiations to adjust local laws so they match the EU’s.
On Thursday, Kosovo officially applied for membership to the EU.
Bosnia submitted a 2016 application to the EU, but is still not implementing the reforms required to move forward on the EU path. This has resulted in the country being unable to overcome quarrels with its Croat, Serb and Bosniak rivals.
It was motivated by the fear of instability spreading to volatile Western Balkans regions from the conflict in Ukraine.
Robert Golob (prime minister of Slovenia), said that today’s decision shows that he understands the difficulties facing Bosnia and Herzegovina as well as the whole Western Balkans. He strongly supported the decision.
Golob stated that the granting of the candidate status was a necessary signal to the third countries, whose evil influence has grown over time, that they will not permit their negative narratives and policies to dominate in the Western Balkans.
Christian Schmidt, Bosnia’s international peace ambassador said that the awarding of candidate status to Bosnia was a “once-in-a lifetime opportunity” and called on political leaders in Bosnia to show they are capable of moving the country beyond economic and political dysfunction.
Bosniak representative Denis Becirevic said that the decision was positive.
Becirevic stated in a statement that “Granting” of candidate status was a significant step towards European integration. However, there is still a lot to do before negotiations can begin on EU membership.
Analysts believe the decision was due many years ago.
Adi Cerimagic (a senior analyst at the European Stability Initiative, ESI think-tank) said that “it is wonderful that it finally happens.” It will prevent citizens from moving more freely, or allow goods made in Bosnia to sell more easily. And it won’t open up any EU funds.
Many citizens agreed with his sentiments.
Haris Dzonlic (a Sarajevo citizen) said, “I don’t expect much from joining EU.” “I don’t think this candidate status will significantly improve our lives or the standard of everyday people in Sarajevo.”