The European Union is committed to helping a sovereign, secure and prosperous Bosnia and Herzegovina move along the path towards full EU membership, the new Head of the EU Delegation to Bosnia and Herzegovina and EU Special Representative, Ambassador Peter Sørensen, said today.
Ambassador Sørensen was speaking at a press conference shortly after presenting his credentials to the Chairman of the BiH Presidency, Željko Komšić.
He said that Bosnia and Herzegovina has the resources and the capacity to fulfil all of the necessary obligations and make a credible application for EU membership – but that it must now summon up the political will and build the necessary consensus to carry this effort forward.
„Let me from the outset emphasise that the leading role in achieving EU membership must be with you – with the BiH citizens, with the BiH media, and with the BiH authorities,” Ambassador Sørensen said. He said he would work to promote the interests of the country and its people but that he will not act as a substitute for the proper authorities.
Ambassador Sørensen said that the steps that must now be taken are laid out in the EU Council Conclusions on Bosnia and Herzegovina of 21 March 2011.
„We will assist with the BiH population census,” he said, referring to one of the most immediate accession requirements, and he added that, in the short term, his office will focus on helping the authorities implement the measures that are needed for the Stabilisation and Association Agreement to enter into force. These include:
- Proper implementation of the Interim Agreement (part of the SAA and already in force);
- Adoption of an EU-compatible Law on State Aid; and
- Steps that will bring BiH into compliance with the European Court of Human Rights’ ruling in the Sejdić- Finci case.
Ambassador Sørensen said he will now undertake his introductory round of calls on representatives of the BiH authorities, visiting different parts of the country.
„We want to help ensure that key sectors – the judiciary, the administration, the economy – and key infrastructure are ready for the demands of EU membership,” he said.
He stressed that the EU has reinforced its presence in Bosnia and Herzegovina because it believes that this will make it possible to forge a more effective partnership with BiH leaders and BiH citizens, and that the underlying objective is to accelerate the country’s progress towards EU membership and thus help improve quality of life.