European Western Balkans

Bosnia and Herzegovina gets candidate status for EU membership

BiH and EU flags; Photo: European Commission

BRUSSELS – The European Council on Thursday granted Bosnia and Herzegovina a candidate status for EU membership. The EU leaders approved the decision at a summit in Brussels following a recommendation by the European Commission in October and voting in the General Affairs Council this week.

EU High Representative for Common Foreign and Security Policy Josep Borrell welcomed the decision. “This is a decision for the people of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Political leaders can now turn this ambition into reality through decisive reforms”, Borrell said.

EU Enlargement Commissioner Oliver Varhelyi also welcomes the decision saying that Bosnia’s future lies in the EU.

The Foreign Minister of Slovenia Tanja Fajon congratulated BiH on its gaining EU candidate status. She assessed that this decision is important for the EU, Western Balkans and for the citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina. “We congratulate BiH on this historic day”, it said in a statement.

Denis Bećirović, a Bosniak member of the tripartite Bosnian presidency, said that the decision is an encouragement for all the citizens.

“With this decision, the relations between Bosnia and Herzegovina and the EU are further strengthened. The candidate status is a step forward in the process of European integration, although there is still a lot of work to be done,” he added.

Bosnian Croat leader, Dragan Čović, who officially submitted Bosnia’s application for the EU membership in 2016 as the chairman of the presidential council, said it took almost seven years to reach the decision on Thursday.

“We can last in this status for years. Our goal is to get out of this status by the end of next year. We have been given a hand, we must accept it to the end,” Čović said.

Serb leader Milorad Dodik said he already lost his optimism. “I admit that if it was a few years ago, I would have been more optimistic. Now I don’t really care. Basically, I think that this is not part of the regular procedures. I think it’s a belated reaction to the injustice that was done this year, after granting Ukraine and others that status,” he said.

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