Green mild from the 27 to open accession negotiations with Bosnia-Herzegovina | EUROtoday

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LOlaf Scholz's Germany, Pedro Sanchez's Spain, Mark Rutte's Netherlands, Karl Nehammer's Austria… Many European leaders wished the opening of accession negotiations with Bosnia -Herzegovina, 32 years after the conflict which bloodied the Balkans. “I am very much in favor of the fact that after the many efforts that have been made in Bosnia and Herzegovina, we are now taking the next steps in this country, as we have already done for so many others,” insisted Chancellor Scholz upon his arrival on Thursday on the European Council in Brussels. At the identical time, the German Chancellor ratified the favorable report revealed by the European Commission a couple of days earlier. Emmanuel Macron didn’t converse upon arrival on the Council however France supported Germany's place.

Only one false be aware on the entrance to the European Council: the Estonian Prime Minister. Kaja Kallas didn’t subscribe to the overall enthusiasm. “We agreed on different conditions. If these conditions are met, then we must also keep our promises. But to my knowledge, all the conditions concerning Bosnia-Herzegovina are not met,” she stated. A press release which solid a chill earlier than the discussions at 27. But a couple of hours later, at dinner, Kaja Kallas gave in to the overall stress…

The Commission’s “yes but”

In truth, the Commission itself acknowledges that Sarajevo has not completely fulfilled its duties. But, as typical, Ursula von der Leyen prefers to see the glass half full moderately than half empty. “Impressive progress” is how the President of the Commission describes the steps taken by Bosnia-Herzegovina because the EU acknowledged it as a candidate in December 2022.

“Further progress is of course necessary to join the Union,” she continues. But the nation is exhibiting that it may well meet the membership standards set for it in addition to notice its aspirations to be a part of the EU household. This is why we advocate that the Council open accession negotiations with Bosnia and Herzegovina. » As is commonly the case, the Commission makes use of the “yes but”. She recommends solely actually opening negotiations when all situations have been met.

A battle frozen by the Dayton Accords

The European Parliament's report on Bosnia-Herzegovina, a rustic of three.8 million inhabitants, is way much less watered down than that of the Commission. “More than 25 years after the end of the war, the country still faces deep divisions, fueled by political elites, secessionist desires on the part of the leaders of the entity of Republika Srpska, corruption and challenges to the rule of law, governance, accountability, freedom of expression and media freedom, prompting thousands of citizens to leave the country every year, we can note in this document published in July 2023. […] Bosnia and Herzegovina continues to experience problems with discrimination based on ethnicity, gender and sexual orientation as well as difficulties in protecting the rights of minorities. »

The Dayton Accords of December 1995 in some way froze the community conflict while putting an end to it. Bosnia has two entities: the federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina which brings together Bosnian Muslims and Croats and the Serbian republic (Republika Srpska, majority Serbian). Resentment has since been fueled by clientelist politicians, so much so that the threat of a resumption of conflict has not entirely disappeared. Reconciliation efforts are often thwarted and the emergence of a civil society freeing itself from community ties remains difficult. Nevertheless, the European Union still hopes for appeasement through economic development. As pre-accession funds, Bosnia and Herzegovina received 552.1 million euros from the EU between 2014 and 2020 and 517 million euros in the previous period (2007-2013).

Some progress… in the texts

After obtaining candidate status, Bosnia and Herzegovina had to meet many conditions to upgrade. It had, for example, to adopt a national program to ultimately integrate all European legislation, what is called the Community acquis. Which she partially did. It adopted the law on the prevention of conflicts of interest, as well as that on the fight against corruption and organized crime. It was to enable the integrity of judges and prosecutors to be monitored. She checks that box too. It has made progress in border management. Finally, it had to ensure the effective freedom of the press and ensure the protection of journalists. But all this often remains in the form of very recently adopted paper texts…

The European Commission notes that the Constitutional Court repealed, in October 2019, the reference to the death penalty in the entity's Constitution Republika Srpska. In August 2023, Parliament amended the Human Rights Ombudsman Act, opening a way to combat torture and ill-treatment – ​​an international obligation of the country.

Countering foreign influences

Beyond the expected progress, many invoke the geopolitical necessity of linking Bosnia-Herzegovina to the European bloc given the malicious interference exerted there by hostile powers, Russia in the lead but also Turkey and the Arab countries of the Gulf pushing Salafist movements.

“I struggle to see the progress which justifies opening now (the accession negotiations, editor's note), confides MEP Nathalie Loiseau, president of the defense subcommittee of the European Parliament. For years, Bosnia has remained torn by political leaders who maintain tensions from the past rather than building the future. Certainly, Bosnia is crossed by foreign influences which must be fought. If accession negotiations open, we must remain vigilant: to each according to their merits. »

For France, saying no would be more serious than saying yes

Same skepticism for Nicolas Bay, Reconquest MEP! : “Bosnia is a composite, artificial and unstable country, always affected by ethno-religious rivalries as well as Albanian and Turkish influence. Do we want to import such a latent conflict into the EU even though previous enlargements are still sources of tension and unfair intra-community competition? », asks Nicolas Bay who now sits within the ECR group (European Conservatives and Reformists) with other parties, on the contrary, very favorable to enlargement, like the Poles of PiS.

“We must also think about the consequences of not sending a positive signal to Bosnia,” argues a French diplomat. At a time once we very strongly help Ukraine, for good causes, or Moldova, there’s a danger, not of sustaining the established order in Bosnia, however of getting a really unfavorable state, of additional deteriorating the state of affairs . The constructive alerts that we’ve got given since 2002 have led to reforms, though inadequate, however they didn’t exist earlier than. »