The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Bosnia and Herzegovina hosted the third and final meeting of the Steering Committee of the Joint European Union and Council of Europe Program ‘Horizontal Facility for the Western Balkans and Turkey’.
The meeting was attended by representatives of institutions directly involved in the implementation of this program, including the justice ministries at the state and entity level, the Institution of Human Rights Ombudsman of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Ministry of Human Rights and Refugees and the Ministry of Civil Affairs of BiH.
Participants concluded that supporting Bosnia and Herzegovina towards alignment to the European standards is the task of the utmost importance for both the EU and the Council of Europe.
Assistant Minister in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Almir Sahovic pointed out the importance of cooperation between the EU, the Council of Europe and the national authorities in the EU accession process of Bosnia and Herzegovina. “This Program brings the country closer to the European standards and the results of projects implemented within the ‘Horizontal Facility’ will also be reflected in the European Commission’s Opinion on the country’s EU membership application”, said Sahovic.
Director of the Office of the Directorate General of Programs of the Council of Europe Verena Taylor said that the Joint Program “has been instrumental in supporting the implementation of key reforms in compliance with European standards, and its flexibility allowed quick response to the newly identified needs on the ground”.
She added that Program’s achievements were important, as they had direct impact on lives of the citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina, “but also because they contribute to the European integration of the country”.
Head of Operations Section for Justice and Home Affairs and Public Administration Reform with the EU Delegation to Bosnia and Herzegovina Nicolas Bizel said that consistent cooperation and coordination with all stakeholders - beneficiaries, European Union and the Council of Europe - was the key element of all ‘Horizontal Facility’ actions.
Bizel noted that a total of EUR 2.7 million have been allocated so far in Bosnia and Herzegovina through the ‘Horizontal Facility for the Western Balkans and Turkey’.
The three-year ‘Horizontal Facility’ program aims to assist authorities in South-East Europe to achieve greater compliance with European standards in three key areas: ensuring justice, fighting corruption, economic crime and organized crime, as well as combating discrimination and the protection of the rights of vulnerable groups.