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Fresh Delay to EU Talks Leaves Many Bosnians Bitter

While most politicians in Bosnia and Herzegovina have remained silent on yet another halt to the opening of accession talks with the European Union, its citizens reacted with sorrow to the most recent delay on the EU path. 

While opening talks with Ukraine and Moldova on Thursday, prime ministers of EU member countries meeting in Brussels said they would only open talks with Bosnia “once certain criteria are met”. They meanwhile granted candidate status to Georgia. 

Congratulating Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia on X (Twitter), a senior analyst with the European Stability Initiative, Adnan Cerimagic, said that his “wish this evening is for all three not to fall into the Western Balkans EU accession trap of endless process… or even worse: to end up going through decades of EU discrimination and being put down, as Bosnia has.”

While many were surprised that war-torn Ukraine has been given the green light to start talks, Cerimagic drew a comparison to Bosnia. 

“For my Bosnian friends: my first thought was to imagine where we would have been today if our then war-torn country had been given EU candidate status in December 1992 and started talks in December 1993? Or at least in 2002 and 2003,” Cerimagic said. 

“My much more realistic take: friends, buckle up, this will be a much longer ride and 2024 will be even bumpier than previous year,” he added.

Bosnia submitted its candidate application in February 2016, after which it had to undergo 14 key reforms. Conditional candidate status was granted in December 2022, when the European Commission set a condition of eight crucial reforms which the country needs to make before opening accession talks.

Bosnia’s state-level government has fully adopted only four of the eight since then. However, the EU has said that Bosnia has until March 2024 to adopt the remaining measures. 

Milorad Dodik, president of Bosnia’s Serb-dominated Republika Srpska entity, one of two in the country, put the blame for the delay on the slow pace of adoption of reforms by Bosniak and Croat politicians. 

“All the priorities that the EU set before BiH, which were directly under the jurisdiction of the ministries led by personnel from Republika Srpska, were successfully implemented,” he insisted.

“All negotiation and reconciliation processes led by the staff from Republika Srpska ended with an agreement,” Dodik added on X. 

“This testifies to the true determination of Republika Srpska for BiH’s membership in the EU. Unfortunately, those who swear by the EU do not show that readiness but block the European path of Bosnia and Herzegovina,” he said. 

The decision came after EU leaders met in Brussels. Hungary’s Prime Minister Victor Orban notably abstained from the voting process on Ukraine, backing down on threats to veto it. Hungary, which cherishes ties to Moscow, has taken a strong stand against Ukraine’s membership. 

Source : BalkanInsight