Newly-appointed Head of the EU Delegation to Bosnia and Herzegovina and EU Special Representative Johann Sattler addressed the public for the first time since arriving in the country.
Sattler underlined that membership in the European Union is Bosnia’s strategic goal and a desire of all the country’s citizens.
“European Union is the best offer in town. (…) It is the most advanced and the most prosperous economic union on the planet, but above all, we are a Union of principles, values and standards”, said Sattler.
“One thing you can be sure: we’ll be here for the long haul, to stay. I firmly believe - and this comes from my heart - that the EU is not complete without Bosnia and Herzegovina and the entire region”, he added.
Head of the EU Delegation underlined that over the years, Bosnia and Herzegovina has proven to be able to overcome difficulties.
“Especially when the going got tough and in spite of your structural deficiencies, you were always able to get your act together. Yes, it took a long time, but in the end you delivered: from fulfilling conditions for visa liberalization, the submission of the application for EU membership to - very recently - the regional roaming agreement. So things are possible, but a lot of work lies ahead”, said Sattler.
He emphasized that Bosnia and Herzegovina needed to implement comprehensive economic reforms.
“Your citizens want to have quality education, adequate healthcare, an impartial judiciary and greater job opportunities”, said Sattler, “but too often divisive rhetoric has overtaken the public discourse, while neglecting the actual work and the needs of all citizens”.
Sattler reminded that the European Commission’s Opinion set out 14 key priorities that the country needed to address in order to be recommended for the opening of the EU accession negotiations.
“One of the first things I expect to see from the institutions in Bosnia and Herzegovina is the development of an action plan on implementing recommendations from the Commission’s Opinion. This would convey a clear message of commitment by BiH to move forward”, explained Sattler.
He mentioned the rule of law, socio-economic issues and the public administration reform as the “most serious issues to be tackled”, adding that those would be his priorities for the time to come.
“I am aware of the challenges ahead, including the stalemate with regard to the formation of the authorities. Bosnia and Herzegovina needs to have all levels of government in place as soon as possible. And I mean that. So it is time for us all to roll up our sleeves and start working”, Sattler said.
He underlined that “Bosnia and Herzegovina has it in its hands to join the European Union”. “Exactly when depends on how quickly and effectively your authorities get on with their tasks. Me and my team will be there to assist and do everything we can to help you move forward”, Sattler concluded.