Statement delivered by Commissioner Olivér Várhelyi on the conclusion of his two-day visit to BiH

I am 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 and 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 steps to deescalate tensions, avoid further rhetoric and actions that undermine trust and State institutions, resume dialogue and urgently return to 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 can become a candidate country.

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

This a critical moment for the country, its citizens, but also its businesses. Reforms are pending, and at the moment Bosnia and Herzegovina risks losing EUR 1.5 billion 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 Bakir Izetbegović.

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 the 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 our key partners, to take this work forward.

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

I believe this can be done, much like for example elections in Mostar held after 12 years that have shown 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 and prosper.

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, and it was a pleasure to be here.

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