Mogherini: New strategy for Western Balkans is historic opportunity for countries in region

EPA-EFE/STEPHANIE LECOCQ

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In an exclusive interview for BHT1, High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini said that the new strategy for ‘A credible enlargement perspective for and enhanced EU engagement with the Western Balkans’ was a historic opportunity for countries in the region. 

The messages are very clear, very strong and I would say historical. We see that the Western Balkans, the citizens and leadership of all six countries are committed to joining the EU. This Strategy is a response from the EU which says that this is also what we want. The doors are open for those who want to enter. And we want to see the entire region joining the EU”, said Mogherini.

She added that the Strategy sent a message about the future of the EU: “We are a part of the same family, and every problem that emerges in the Western Balkans is a problem for the EU as well”.  

Commenting on the part of the Strategy which says that Bosnia and Herzegovina could be given the status of the EU Candidate Country in 2019 and begin accession negotiations in 2023, Mogherini said that dates and time were not of crucial importance.

It could be shorter, it could be longer. Give me answers to (the European Commission’s) Questionnaire tomorrow and you will get an opinion on candidacy in a few months’ time. Things can move very quickly. But give me answers one year from today and everything will move much slower. The thing is that one has to organize oneself to do what is necessary. There is work to be done in Bosnia and Herzegovina and I know that it is an election year, but almost every year is an election year”, said Mogherini.

EPA-EFE/Alejandro Ernesto

I am addressing your politicians: Your citizens want this process to continue. I believe that people in BiH, and especially younger generations, are mature enough to realize when one should reach compromises and put the European agenda above divisions”, she added.  

It is necessary to overcome divisions. Every time they (politicians in Bosnia and Herzegovina) did that in the past three years, they had results. Now, they should do a similar thing with the Election Law. That is in the hands of political leaders. That is a very important issue and we can assist, we have presence on the ground and I have recently met with members of the Presidency of BiH. Our constant desire is to help”, said Mogherini, adding - however - that the process of achieving compromises and adopting decisions was in the hands of local officials.

Every time politicians take a deep breath, muster up courage and reach compromise with interests of citizens in their mind, people always recognize and appreciate that, and results always follow after that. Therefore, my key message to politicians is that they should be brave, reach compromises and think only about benefits of citizens, and there will be results”, she concluded.