Bosnia's new FM says Brussels has big expectations but there are good news too

NEWS 07.02.2023 18:38

Bosnia’s newly elected Foreign Minister Elmedin Konakovic chose Brussels for his first official visit. With this move, Konakovic told N1, he wanted to send a message that the European Union is "Bosnia's top priority" and that it "appreciates the fact that by obtaining candidate status we have stepped into a new chapter that we will hopefully use it this time".

First, he met with the European Union Commissioner for Enlargement and Neighborhood Oliver Varhelyi about the 14 priorities the EU set before BiH, new opportunities and challenges and the momentum in which “the political stability of BiH suggests that some things could happen in BiH that so far didn’t”.

Good news from Brussels

He also spoke with the President of the Committee for Foreign Policy in the EU Parliament, David Mcallister and his deputy Zeljana Zovka, as well as other officials.

“Their expectations are high. Our political stability, the quick formation of the Council of Ministers are positive developments that haven't happened until now. We'll make every effort to fulfil those expectations as soon as possible, to confirm with a few quick solutions that this coalition is different from the ones we have seen in previous years. There is a special emphasis on laws in the field of justice, conflict of interest and the fight against corruption so that these documents will go into the official procedure. We have big challenges ahead – changes to the Constitution, etc., which these people don't expect to change overnight. The good news is that a strong global agency that deals with credit ratings puts BiH in a higher ranking due to political stability,” Konakovic said.

“Disinterest politicians led the country”

When it comes to BiH's foreign policy, which has been discussed a lot over the years due to different positions and inconsistencies, Konakovic said that European officials are very interested in it and said: “We stand strongly with the positions of the EU.”

“They understand the specifics of our policies, in which the politicians from the Republika Srpska (RS) entity didn’t want to talk about the visa regime for Russian citizens and other situations. The views of [RS President Miorad] Dodik, [BiH Presidency member Zeljka] Cvijanović and me and my partners are different in this case and this is the specificity of BiH for which we ask for understanding, that we don’t suffer the consequences for that. The same thing is with Iran. We need to understand these differences as a political reality and work on things for which there are no disagreements,” Konakovic said, adding that once the primary priorities are resolved, more difficult matters will come next.

He pointed out that “the lack of interest of international factors and the EU in BiH lasted too long and that interests such as Russian, Chinese and others, dominated”.

“Those people invested more energy and it produced some results that cannot be erased overnight. All this is the result of misunderstandings that lasted for years and we are ready to make agreements. I don't think that Dodik will change his policy overnight, but I think that he will relax on more difficult issues when the problems that are the prerequisite for a better life in Bosnia and Herzegovina are solved,” Konakovic said.

“Time's Up”

He expressed the hope that “we will speak with one voice” in BiH as soon as possible about the events in Ukraine and other parts of the world.

“Time has already run out for us and we missed all the opportunities. There were too many missed opportunities. The EU's report for BiH has been moved to July and we are expected to deliver/adopt several important things, so that the report would be more positive than it was,” Konakovic concluded.


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