Interview with Ambassador Peter Sorensen Head of EU Delegation and EUSR to BiH for Dnevni avaz

Dnevni avaz: What do you expect from new BiH Council of Ministers?

Peter Sorensen: Political leaders and the relevant institutions now have no time to lose in resolving the 2012 state-level budget, for the same reasons of ensuring domestic and international credibility.

Furthermore, there must be renewed attention, including from the Council of Ministers, to setting up proper co-ordination on EU matters between all relevant governments and legislators. Such co-ordination mechanisms as well as a proper and politically supported programme for adopting the EU acquis would be needed before BiH can start negotiating with the EU in earnest. This co-ordination and a common base for adopting EU-legislation will also help to implement EU standards equally across the country.  More generally, I expect close co-operation between the new Council and the Parliamentary Assembly. Clearly there is much work for us to do to move BiH closer to the EU!

Dnevni avaz: EU Commissioner, Stefan Fuele, recently stated that EU door is still open for BiH. What are you expectations re speedy adoption of key legislation by BiH authorities so EU institutions would get a positive signal from BiH? Is there a deadline for BiH authorities?

Peter Sorensen: It is encouraging that the Laws on State Aid and the Population Census have now been adopted. Now the focus must turn to the implementation of the Sejdic-Finci ruling which would align the Constitution with the European Convention on Human Rights. As a first step, we need to see credible efforts by Bosnia and Herzegovina in this regard, which would  help to bring the country to have the Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA) – Bosnia and Herzegovina’s contract with the EU – into full force. With the appropriate political determination, this could already be done in March or April – but for this we need a strong political commitment from the Council of Ministers and the political leaders.

That is important because it will open up a deeper relationship between the European Union and your country.

Regarding a credible EU membership application, it is important that Bosnia and Herzegovina concludes the necessary preparations before this is done including the full implementation of the Sejdic-Finci case.

The priorities for Bosnia and Herzegovina to make progress on the EU path are well known to the country’s leaders and institutions.

I believe that if there is concerted political will, we can see real progress down the EU path before the summer. Just like with all the countries in the region – when you deliver, EU delivers too. No more, no less. We are ready to help, but your political representatives need to do their part.

Dnevni avaz: How do you comment on process of adoption of the FBiH Law on Interior Affairs, which has caused great disagreements between coalition partners, SDA and SDP? One party claims that new draft law will put police under political control whereas other party claims it will depoliticise police.   

Peter Sorensen: The EU supports a professional, independent police service with appropriate command and control, serving the citizens first and foremost. I note that this law has now passed from the FBiH Governent to the Parliament, where I hope there will be a full and transparent debate.