The European Union stands ready to help BiH every step of the way towards the EU

Visiting Sarajevo today, the President of the European Parliament, Jerzy Buzek, met with BiH political party leaders and with High Representative Valentin Inzko.

The EP President urged politicians in Bosnia and Herzegovina to take responsibility for implementing reforms that will make life better for BiH citizens and that will hep move the country closer to EU membership.

After receiving an award from the International Centre for Peace, a BiH non-governmental organisation, Buzek told journalists that his latest visit has reinforced his view that Bosnia and Herzegovina “is not on the periphery of Europe, but in the heart of Europe.” He said that the society being built here is a European society “and Bosnia and Herzegovina is important for Europe and for all Europeans.”

Buzek said the door to the European Union remains wide open “but this must be a choice that is made by the people of this country”, and he added that the EU is ready to help Bosnia and Herzegovina in the hard but ultimately rewarding work of European integration.

“From first-hand experience, I know that it is not easy being an EU member,” he said, “but it is worth the effort. There are expectations of Bosnia and Herzegovina as it moves towards the EU and these expectations must be fulfilled. Members of the BiH Presidency are willing to make considerable changes. This country has many problems, but I emphasize again, we are ready to help. We must be optimistic, because on 9 December the Council of the EU will engage in a comprehensive discussion and individual reports will come from all the countries in the Western Balkans. As you know, neighbouring countries have achieved a great deal in terms of reform – and Bosnia and Herzegovina must start to do the same.”

The EP President said that his talks with BiH leaders had been constructive and he said that key decisions could be taken in the next five weeks. He expressed his full support for efforts to break the current political deadlock and called on BiH leaders to show determination in reaching solutions.

The Head of the EU Delegation to BiH and EU Special Representative, Peter Sorensen, said that Bosnia and Herzegovina clearly has a great deal to do if it wants to return to the European road but he emphasised that the European Union stands ready to help this country every step of the way:

“We will help Bosnia and Herzegovina to change course and implement the Stabilization and Association Agreement in the next few months,” he said. “To make this happen, the authorities must have a clear plan. There must be immediate steps to harmonize the BiH Constitution with the European Convention on Human Rights, to adopt a State Aid Law that meets European standards, and to adopt a BiH Census Law. This package is a prerequisite for the continuation of European integration.”