Granting candidate status to Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) would be a good message and motivational impulse for BiH citizens which would mean that the European Union (EU) has serious intentions regarding the continuation of the accession process, told Zoran Tegeltija, chairman of the BiH Council of Ministers, after talks with Oliver Varhelyi, EU Commissioner for Enlargement.
As Tegeltija pointed out, BiH needs positive news that will come from the EU, and it could be a candidate status by the end of this year.
“In the conversation with all EU representatives, it is clear that BiH is working on that and that it is very close to gaining candidate status, aware that most of those things that were agreed in the previous period have been completed and that we are in the implementation phase,” said Tegeltija during a press conference in Brussels.
However, journalists received information from diplomatic sources close to the EU, that the position of the Commission and most EU member states that no significant easing of criteria should be expected and that issues such as election legislation, public procurement law, and judicial reform remain the topics for which BiH must demonstrate practical commitment to resolution. It was stressed that the EU insists on 14 priorities, ie recommendations in the Opinion on the candidacy of BiH, which was published two years ago. But, as it was told, that does not mean that the EU will not be flexible in providing technical and any other assistance, and it was emphasized that it is important for BiH to demonstrate that it can overcome the existing political divisions in the country and work towards a compromise.
During his visit to Brussels, Tegeltija talked with Varhelyi and other European officials about the path of BiH to the EU, the current political situation. The focus was on the COVID-19 pandemic and the assistance that the EU should provide to BiH.
To recall, the EU concluded in the early phase of the pandemic that aid to the Western Balkans is important not only for epidemiological reasons, ie the danger that the disease will continue to spread through our region to the European continent, but also to serve as proof that the EU sincerely cares about this region. In this regard, in past months, the EU Office in BiH, European officials, and member states individually, within the Covax mechanism, and in other ways, provided assistance to BiH in the form of donations of medical equipment, vaccines, and other means.
BiH The Council of Ministers announced that Tegeltija informed Varhelyi about the epidemiological situation in BiH and the importance of accelerated vaccination of the population.
The interlocutors pointed out that all levels of government while respecting the rules of the harmonized coordination mechanism, should make additional efforts for faster and more efficient implementation of reform processes to accelerate BiH’s European path.
Tegeltija emphasized that the EU promised that BiH would get a significant additional amount of vaccines against the coronavirus by the end of June.
“The EU believes that all countries in the region, including BiH, will receive additional quantities of vaccines through the EU procurement mechanism by the end of June, aware that the vaccination process with a set of epidemiological measures that need to be undertaken is the key to solving all health sector problems, but also the consequences of the pandemic on the economy, especially its specific branches such as tourism, ” Tegeltija stressed, Nezavisne writes.