Bosnia moves closer to becoming part of the EU as the bloc’s chief executive advises member states to grant themselves candidate status.
Bosnia and Herzegovina took a small step toward membership of the European Union when the bloc’s executive board advised member states to grant it candidate status despite criticism over the way it is governed. of the Balkan country.
Wednesday’s recommendation has been enthusiastically anticipated in Bosnia is ethnically dividedThe country is lagging behind several other Balkan countries in being granted candidate status to become a member of the 27-nation prosperous European club.
EU Enlargement Commissioner Oliver Varhelyi told a European Parliament committee during the presentation of the annual enlargement report that the executive recommended granting candidate status to Bosnia, pending a series of reform pledges. basic.
The Bosnian foreign minister welcomed the decision and described it as “historic”.
“This sends a strong message to the citizens [of Bosnia]one thing we were hoping to get sooner, that our future as a member of [EU] family,” Bisera Turkovic said on Twitter.
The Commission can only advise which countries should become EU candidates. All member states must agree unanimously on such a step. Varhelyi said he expects EU members to act quickly, possibly as early as December, arguing that geopolitical changes in the region fueled by Russia’s war in Ukraine are needed. set.
Once a country becomes a candidate, it can still take years before membership becomes a reality.
Varhelyi warned Bosnian leaders to quickly implement the necessary reforms.
“We are doing this for the people of Bosnia and Herzegovina, but it also comes with high expectations,” Varhelyi said. “It’s up to the elite to make this a reality.”
He said for Bosnia to be a candidate, its leaders need to implement reforms on issues ranging from the judiciary to fighting corruption and push through constitutional and electoral changes. These issues have made little progress in recent years.
Even earlier this week, Fraud was reported in the recent Bosnian general electionThe country’s top electoral body announced it would conduct a recount of the votes in the race to become the next president of the Serb-run Republika Srpska entity, a vote where a loyalist leader Russia is accused of fraud.
Committee reviews in other areas are also discouraged. It points to limited or no progress in public administration reform, justice and the fight against corruption and organized crime. To be a candidate, a country does not have to meet all of the criteria, but must demonstrate a commitment to doing so.
Some Balkan states and Turkey have waited around two decades to join, and progress has at times been hampered by opposition from EU member states.
Ankara applied for accession in 1987, received its status as a candidate in 1999 and had to wait until 2005 to begin negotiations for actual accession. It is still away from members.