European Union External Action

Remarks by High Representative/Vice-President Federica Mogherini following the EU-Bosnia and Herzegovina Stabilisation and Association Council

Bruxelles, 11/12/2015 - 00:00, UNIQUE ID: 151211_02

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Let me start by saying that this first ever Stabilisation and Association Council between the European Union and Bosnia and Herzegovina was going to be in itself a positive thing for this very same fact - that it takes place. But let me also say sincerely that this was a very positive meeting also in substance. An extremely good one that allows us to not only be satisfied with the work done over this year, but also to look forward to the next steps of this common work.

So, very positive news, a very positive meeting and a very positive element on a way that we have defined together and that we are following together with very good results, I would say. The meeting is already in itself, as I said, a result of a commitment by the institutions of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the political leadership to move ahead with reforms and on the European Union path - first of all, for the benefit of the people of Bosnia and Herzegovina. It is also a product of the hard work of many people in Bosnia and Herzegovina, in the EU Member States and here in Brussels. I would like to thank all our respective teams for the excellent and hard work they have done over the year and in particular in preparation of this meeting.

Exactly one year ago, we had a joint vision on how to re-launch Bosnia and Herzegovina's reforms and the European Union path. We had Council conclusions in the European Union adopting a new vision on how to engage with Bosnia and Herzegovina. We visited, together with Commissioner Hahn, to share this with the leadership and institutions of the country. And we have been constantly engaging together in this process, jointly, over this year.

With the European Union's support, but first and foremost with a strong political will and determination, Bosnia and Herzegovina's institutions have engaged in an ambitious reform process focusing, as a priority, on the country's citizens and on improving their economic conditions with the specific focus to opportunities to be offered to the young people of the country. Much positive effort has been made in this regard. This is extremely encouraging. This was recognised by the European Union in the formal meeting today.

The Stabilisation and Association Agreement now needs to be implemented, so that Bosnia and Herzegovina can make full use of it. And the momentum in reforms must be sustained over time so that they can continue to deliver. This is what the citizens of the country need and what they demand. I heard that very clearly from their voices every time that I was visiting the country in this last year.

In the meeting today we had a clear agreement on priorities for the implementation of the reform agenda and of the SAA and on the adaptation of the SAA. We agreed that work will start already next week with our teams. There is also clarity about other necessary reforms, including in the area of rule of law, public administration, protection of human rights and minority rights. There is a clear commitment on both sides to continue our common work to deliver concrete results, and soon. This would enable Bosnia and Herzegovina also to move forward on its European Union path. This is the positive sense of our meeting today.

Obviously, we have all noticed that not everything is as positive and enthusiastic as the mood and the spirit and the outcome of our meeting today. Yesterday’s decision of the Republika Srpska government to suspend cooperation with certain judicial and law enforcement agencies in Bosnia and Herzegovina could jeopardize the functioning of the judiciary and law enforcement in the country. We underline the need to respect the rule of law throughout the whole territory of the country and we call the authorities in Bosnia and Herzegovina to maintain mutual cooperation and dialogue.

We, together with Commissioner Hahn, are ready to continue to invest our time, our energy, our political capital, our relations with the rest of European institutions and Member States to continue on this path of reforms, of positive results for the people, all the people, of Bosnia and Herzegovina and to bring the country forward on the European Union path. And to make this process deliver for all the citizens of the country and also in the interest of the European Union as such.

Thank you very much. I thank you very much for your presence Prime Minister Denis Zvizdić and for your very constructive work.

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