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Bosnia Gets Candidate Status To Join The EU

Bosnia and Herzegovina becomes one of the last Balkan states to join the lineup toward EU membership. The Brussels summit held on December 15th followed up on the European Commission’s recommendation of granting Bosnia candidate status in October. Having applied six years ago, the final ratification was a long-awaited achievement for the country.

Kosovo also applied for the same title on the day when Bosnia received it. The EU appears to welcome these efforts as concerns over European security grow due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and its possible influence in the Balkan region. Croatia was the last Balkan country to join the bloc.  However, 10 years have passed since the EU had seen a new member in its ranks.

Bosnia and Herzegovina’s neighbors, Montenegro and Serbia, have been holding the same status since 2010 and 2012 respectively. The delay has been caused due to the number of reforms a candidate needs to implement to join the Union. The divided nature of the government in Bosnia makes this task even more complicated.

The war of the 1990s on Bosnian soil had been put to an end with the Dayton Agreement, which formed a tripartite rotating presidency between Serbian, Bosniak and Croat elected representatives from each major ethnic group in Bosnia. Dayton peace accords had also divided the country into two federal entities - the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina (predominantly populated with Bosniaks and Croats) and the Republika Srpska (predominantly populated with Serbs). The complicated structure proved to be costly to maintain as well as difficult to incorporate into the EU’s legal framework.

According to DW News, Bosnia and Herzegovina are now set to make some improvements on 14 different goals on the way to reforms. The required changes also touch upon the judiciary and constitutional adjustments. Today, the most significant factor which can stall the process, as recognized by the international community, is the Serb entity.

Up until November 2022, the Serb leader in the inter-ethnic presidency was Milorad Dodik - a nationalist politician, who was pushing against centralizing power in Bosnia and acted in support of his federal entity breaking away from the country. He was sanctioned by Great Britain.  Liz Truss explained that the sanctions against Dodik were the consequence of “deliberately undermining the hard-won peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina” by aiming his political activity toward secession.

Although Dodik had stepped away from his duties as a member of the three-seat presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina, he is currently in office as the president of the Serb entity. He continues the legal attempts of separating the areas with a Serbian majority away from Bosnia, which recently caused Germany to react similarly to British officials.

Another person who experienced the same treatment is now a member of the presidency in Bosnia and Herzegovina - Željka Cvijanović. She was accused of pushing forward policies that were aimed at switching competencies of the state to the entity level by submitting specific draft laws.

However, upon her victory in the elections, Cvijanović herself publicly advocated for dialogue and cooperation between all branches of government in Bosnia, expressing hope for “finding the lowest common denominator”. With a green light from the EU and possibly a new leader, Bosnia and Herzegovina is now heading for transformation in many areas, but the length of the journey largely depends on the successful management of differences within the country.


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Tags: #europeanunion #bosniaandherzegovina #zeljkacvijanovic #miloradodik



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