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European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations (DG NEAR)
News article25 November 2021Directorate-General for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Negotiations

Remarks by Commissioner Várhelyi at the end of his visit to Bosnia and Herzegovina

Commissioner visit to Bosnia and Herzegovina

Sarajevo, 25 November 2021

I am just concluding a two-day visit to Bosnia and Herzegovina. I came here as a friend of the country and all its people. I came because I care. I want to see Bosnia and Herzegovina succeed and prosper.

I visited Sarajevo, Banja Luka and Mostar. I met with all political stakeholders and the key institutions of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

I explained to all my interlocutors that the European perspective for the country is real and credible. I also made it clear that the European Union is fully committed to the stability, sovereignty, unity and integrity of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

My main message was: Leaders must take the steps to de-escalate the tensions, avoid further rhetoric and actions that undermine trust and State institutions, resume dialogue and urgently return to the fully functioning institutions.

The focus needs to return to the European agenda and the implementation of the 14 key priorities so that Bosnia and Herzegovina can finally start to advance on the EU path and become a candidate country.

These reforms need to go ahead also so that Bosnia and Herzegovina can fully benefit from the EU programmes and our Economic and Investment Plan designed for the Western Balkans, where BiH can be a major beneficiary.

This is critical for the country, its citizens and its businesses. Reforms are pending, and at the moment Bosnia and Herzegovina risks to lose 1.5 billion euro for connectivity if no action is taken. And more would be at stake for the future.

Last night I spoke to the leaders of the ruling coalition, Milorad Dodik, Dragan Čović and BakirIzetbegović.

Through all my discussions, I heard openings for solutions and willingness from stakeholders to move forward.

I saw readiness to engage in relation to state property, on the criminal code amendments and constitutional and electoral reform. I also saw willingness to return to the work of institutions to move forward on all these issues.

I can confirm that on our side we are ready to assist and facilitate this engagement in the interest of Bosnia and Herzegovina. It is for that reason that I have entrusted Ambassador Sattler, in cooperation with key partners, to take this forward. 

This will be done with the sense of urgency towards finding solutions, so that Bosnia and Herzegovina can finally turn the page on this crisis swiftly.

I believe this can be done, much like for example elections in Mostar held after 12 years showed that dialogue can deliver results even on the most difficult questions.

The EU will be with you all the way, because we really want to see Bosnia and Herzegovina succeed.

I would like to see this message carry a particular weight, as today Bosnia and Herzegovina celebrates its Statehood Day. Let me congratulate you on this occasion - it was a pleasure to be here. 

Thank you very much!