More involvement with Europe can 'invigorate and inspire' Bosnia, says Tonio Picula

Tonino Picula is calling for EU 'fast track' programme for Bosnia-Herzegovina.

By Tonino Picula MEP

25 Feb 2014

I was very pleased to support my colleague, MEP Tanja Fajon in pushing for visa-free travel for citizens of Bosnia-Herzegovina to the Schengen area. We hope that increased interaction with the rest of Europe may help to invigorate and inspire Bosnian civil society, and to assist them in pushing their institutions, government and elected representatives to make all the much-needed changes that the country needs and to make these changes, sooner rather than later.

And after almost two decades since the signature of the Dayton agreement, Bosnia-Herzegovina as a whole, is unfortunately still not hold by a positively defined interest of the constituent peoples and all citizens but, mainly, by inertia and external pressure.

It would be preferable for the country to be reconstructed on the basis of some kind of internal consensus, but at this point such a process seems to be further away than at the beginning of last year's talks involving European commissioner for enlargement and European neigbourhood policy Stefan Füle and leaders from across the political parties within Bosnia-Herzegovina.

It should be emphasised that Bosnia-Herzegovina was for far too long in the so-called blind spot of international politics' interest, on the one hand, with a lack of sincere interest of Bosnia-Herzegovina's politicians for change, on the other hand.

It seems paradoxical that a historic agreement of the triangle Brussels - Belgrade - Pristina on the European perspective of Serbia and Kosovo took place, while not even a minimal compromise could be achieved in discussions between Sarajevo, Banja Luka and Mostar about the European future of Bosnia- Herzegovina.

It is quite obvious that Bosnia-Herzegovina is no longer ravaged by the nationalism of neighbouring countries as much as by the nationalism of largest constituent peoples of the country itself.

The crisis in Ukraine, as well as the approaching European elections in May for the European parliament, do not create a favourable environment in Brussels for an increased engagement of diplomatic and financial resources of the European Union.

The absence of serious reforms in the country, as well as bigotry in negotiations, discouraged from further support even many proven friends of Bosnia-Herzegovina. But elections in Bosnia-Herzegovina and in the EU cannot be waited for.

[pullquote]The demanding process of reconstruction of the Dayton agreement, which inevitably has to happen, should start immediately[/pullquote]. Not only because of the European future of Bosnia-Herzegovina, but also in view of the normalisation of the situation in that tormented country so that its citizens could finally live better.

Due to this, I am advocating an EU 'fast track programme', not so much because of uncritical acceleration of the membership of Bosnia-Herzegovina to the European Union as for the remediation of the acute crisis as a prerequisite for a new political agreement on constitutional changes.