By only supporting Ukraine, the EU has humiliated Bosnia and Herzegovina, says former Croatian PM
By only supporting Ukraine in its efforts to become a candidate for EU membership, the EU has neglected and humiliated another region, former Croatian Prime Minister Jadranka Kosor has said on N1 Sunday (June 19), referring to the Western Balkans, whose six candidate countries have been making very slow progress on the road to European integration for more than a decade.
At the same time, Slovenia will push for Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) to gain EU candidate status, EURACTIV partner reports, STA.
The European Commission last week recommended granting Ukraine candidate status for EU membership, and a crucial decision on the matter is expected to be taken by EU leaders this week.
“Let me be perfectly clear, [nous accordons un] full support for Ukraine, but… By giving the green light to Ukraine, the EU has completely neglected and humiliated another region. Here I refer mainly to Bosnia and Herzegovina”said Jadranka Kosor, recalling that the country had also been the scene of a bloody war.
According to Ms Kosor, candidate status on its own does not mean much and in fact entails a number of obligations, which in the case of Croatia means fighting corruption and cooperating with the Court of Nations. for war crimes committed in the former Yugoslavia (ICTY).
“It is from this angle that I see Ursula von der Leyen’s promise to Ukraine”she said, urging caution.
“The comment by Volodymyr Zelensky, who said that gaining candidate status would mean a quicker victory for Ukraine, was very inconsiderate and naive, and it should give pause to all EU leaders who will make a decision on this subject. »
Ms Kosor had helped unblock Croatia’s EU accession talks, which had been stalled by neighboring Slovenia for several years, by reaching a compromise deal with her Slovenian counterpart Borut Pahor in 2009.
“Slovenia alone had blocked 14 of our 35 negotiating chapters”she recalled, adding that Slovenia is now asking for candidate status to be granted unconditionally to Ukraine.
Urging Croatian EU politicians to draw attention to the BiH case in Brussels, she concluded: “I think it’s really time for the EU to face reality, with a bit more political honesty and a sense of realism. »
Slovenia pushes for candidate status to be granted to BiH
Meanwhile, Slovenia is pushing for Bosnia and Herzegovina to gain EU candidate status. According N1 BosniaSlovenia will submit a document requesting the urgent granting of candidate status during the Advice “Foreign Affairs» which will take place in Luxembourg on Monday (20 June).
Slovenia’s proposal aims to “send a positive signal to Bosnia and Herzegovina and to the entire Western Balkan region. This signal, together with the start of accession negotiations with North Macedonia and Albania, and the liberalization of the visa regime for Kosovo, would confirm the EU’s commitment to the Western Balkans”.
According to the proposal, after obtaining candidate status and before opening accession negotiations, BiH must adopt three laws, one on judicial advice, another on the prevention of conflicts of interest and a third on public procurement, explains N1.
Current Slovenian President Borut Pahor has sent a letter to European Council President Charles Michel proposing an unconditional status to support pro-European forces in the country, and Slovenian Prime Minister Robert Golob will defend this position at the summit of Union leaders to be held later in the week.
“The reality is such that only one Member State can prevent this. I hope there will be a reason, but unfortunately the past has shown us time and time again that abuse of this instrument can occur and that individual members can abuse the veto power for their own interests that do not have nothing to do with EU values”Mr. Golob said on Friday (June 17).
In his talks with Mr. Michel and the President of the European Commission, Mr. Golob said that he believed that “the process for Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia will somehow speed up the processes for the Western Balkans as well”.
“In Slovenia, we believe that the Western Balkans deserve similar treatment, especially countries that have experienced war and are not responsible for not meeting the technical criteria”he added.
Athens insists Western Balkans should not be ignored
Of the six candidate countries, only Montenegro and Serbia have officially opened accession negotiations, while Albania and North Macedonia have been in the waiting room for several years. The current stalemate is due to Sofia’s veto, which claims that Skopje does not recognize and grant adequate rights to Bulgarians in the country, as well as various other historical and cultural disputes.
Kosovo and Bosnia and Herzegovina are not even potential contenders, with the former unlikely to progress as four EU member states do not recognize its independence.
As a result, confidence in the EU is declining in the region, while leaders turn to other initiatives such as the “ Open Balkan between Serbia, North Macedonia and Albania, while continuing to benefit from the advantages and influence of Turkey, Russia and China.
In this context, another member state of the bloc insists that the Western Balkan region should not be ignored in the new wave of enlargement caused by the war in Ukraine.
Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias recently pointed out that if Europe does not speed up the integration process, other forces“rivals”will not fail to intervene.
“Forces that promote competing political and economic agendas […] different from the European agenda, [qui] go against our collective interests and seek to undermine the relationship between the EU and the Western Balkans”explained Mr. Dendias.
The Greek foreign affairs chief added that Southeast Europe in general and the Western Balkans in particular have always belonged to Europe.
“Like other parts of the continent, the Western Balkans have experienced armed conflicts […] Geographically, historically, culturally speaking, they belong to Europe. Their painful legacy has left, and still leaves today, an element of mistrust, nationalism and an absence of reconciliation.he concluded.
(Edited by Sarantis Michalopoulos)