Banja Luka, Mostar and the northern Norwegian town of Bodø have been shortlisted in the competition for the title of European Capital of Culture 2024 in a city from an EFTA/EEA country, a candidate country or a potential candidate for membership in the EU.
A panel of independent experts who were evaluating applications from five competing cities -Srebrenica and Tirana had applied as well - made the recommendation at the outcome of a two-day meeting in Brussels, the European Commission reported.
Shortlisted cities have until summer 2019 to complete their applications. The panel of independent experts will then meet again in the second half of 2019 to make their final recommendation about the European Capital of Culture 2024.
Mayor of Banja Luka Igor Radojicic said that the City Administration had worked hard on their application paper titled ‘The Opposites Attract’. “We have proven that we have the will, knowledge and quality”, said Radojicic, adding that several cultural projects from neighboring towns of Bihac and Jajce had been included in the presentation.
Mayor of Mostar Ljubo Beslic said that the victory would mean a lot to everyone in Bosnia and Herzegovina, adding that they were proud of the fact that Mostar had been shortlisted.
There will be two other European Capitals of Culture in 2024, one in Estonia and one in Austria. The pre-selection round in Estonia took place on October 22-23, 2018, with Narva and Tartu being short-listed, while the pre-selection meeting in Austria will take place in late January 2019.
The European Commission invited applications from interested cities in October 2017. The competition was open to cities from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia, Iceland, Montenegro and Norway. Montenegrin city of Herceg Novi was not eligible, as the city had already submitted an application for the competition for the 2021 European Capital of Culture title. Cities in Serbia were not eligible either, as Novi Sad will hold the European Capital of Culture title in 2021.