Croatia FM: BiH’s EU entry talks would prevent ‘malign influences of third countries’

NEWS 05.10.202314:14 0 komentara

Bosnia and Herzegovina should begin EU accession negotiations by year's end as that would help to prevent "the malign influences of third countries," Croatian Foreign Minister Gordan Grlic-Radman said on Thursday, emphasising Croatia's credit for BiH's EU candidate status.

From the start, Croatia has been a genuine advocate of BiH’s European path and it wants BiH “to open accession negotiations by the end of the year. I think that’s a very important security and political issue, important also in order to prevent the malign influences of third countries,” he said at a conference, referring first and foremost to Russia, Turkey and China.

“The credit for granting BiH candidate status goes to the Croatian government and the countries we approached and which supported us. BiH deserves these negotiations as soon as possible,” said Grlic-Radman.

BiH applied for EU membership in 2016 and was granted candidate status last December. It was given 14 priorities it must comply with for the negotiations to be opened. Grlic-Radman said BiH’s new government was “very engaged” on those priorities. In August, BiH adopted five laws relating to its EU membership path.

The European Commission is expected to publish a report on the Western Balkans this month.

Grlic-Radman was speaking at a conference called “EU enlargement – Can BiH be a new success story?” It was also attended by High Representative to BiH Christian Schmidt and Croatian MEP Tomislav Sokol, among others.

Schmidt said there was a political necessity to integrate BiH into the EU and that the momentum must not be lost, notably because, he added, it is not known if the war in Ukraine and the Russian aggression will have a political effect on the Western Balkans.

That’s possible and we must realise that resilience is necessary, which includes opening the negotiations this year, he said.

There must be understanding that the Western Balkans is part of Europe, a region which must be invited to the European family and they should be helped along, Schmidt said.

The Western Balkans has become very important geopolitically after the start of the Russian aggression on Ukraine and a region for the geostrategic competition of third countries, said Grlic-Radman.

It’s important “to stop any Russian influence or the conflict and instability from spilling over. That’s why the EU must be strongly present in the Western Balkans,” he said, adding that the region deserves a European perspective but based on own achievements, “without shortcuts.”

“BiH’s prospects today are certainly better than a year ago. That’s a result also of Croatia’s work, which is the engine pushing BiH towards the EU. High Representative Schmidt also plays an important role in this. It is thanks to Croatia’s work that the West’s stand on BiH has changed a lot. I think they have realised that the Croats are a factor of stability,” said MEP Sokol.

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