Foreign and European Affairs Minister Gordan Grlić Radman (Screenshot: HRT) Foreign and European Affairs Minister Gordan Grlić Radman (Screenshot: HRT)

Speaking in Brussels on Monday, Croatian Foreign and European Affairs Minister Gordan Grlić Radman reiterated Croatia’s longstanding position that the European Union must put Bosnia and Herzegovina at the heart of its focus in the coming period: "I have said many times so far that this region, which is actually the closest to us, needs and deserves more attention. And therefore I am looking forward to a more comprehensive debate at one of our next meetings. And this is why I'm going to present today a contribution on Bosnia and Herzegovina, which is actually a joint initiative of Bulgaria, Cyprus, Greece, Hungary, Slovenia and Croatia. We must help Bosnia and Herzegovina in achieving political stability and institutional functionality."

The six countries point out in the document that Bosnia and Herzegovina must remain at the center of the EU's attention, that the country's membership of the EU is both a priority and an aspiration, and that in order to achieve that goal, a comprehensive transformation of its entire society is needed. One of the first goals on this path is to acquire candidate status, for which it is necessary to meet 14 priorities defined by the European Commission.

The document also says that Bosnia and Herzegovina is based on the principle of the equality of the three constituent peoples and all its citizens, regardless of which part of the country they live in. In order to meet the political criteria, Bosnia and Herzegovina must implement the judgments of the European Court of Human Rights.

It further notes that the fragmented political landscape as well as a climate of mistrust between political representatives in Bosnia and Herzegovina often results in a functional blockade of institutions and setbacks in key reforms. For this reason the six signatories feel that only a firm anchor in European values and standards when it comes to the civic and political rights of all three constituent peoples can help Bosnia and Herzegovina strengthen its stability and prosper.

To achieve this, key reforms, including electoral law reform, need to be adopted without further delay before the 2022 general elections, the document reads. The joint contribution of the six EU member states says that the new election law should be in line with European standards and the recommendations of the OSCE and the Venice Commission, in order to avoid any manipulation in the election process.

"We want Bosnia and Herzegovina to take a decisive and sustainable step towards political stability, a functioning market economy and the well-being of all its citizens. The stability, security, prosperity and functionality of Bosnia and Herzegovina as a single, united and sovereign state is of paramount importance, not only for her immediate neighbors but also for the region, the European Union and the whole of Europe," the document concludes.

Source: HRT