Austrian Ambassador to Bosnia and Herzegovina Ulrike Hartmann said that failure to approve the beginning of membership negotiations with North Macedonia and Albania was a “bad signal for the entire region”, but it did not mean the end of the EU enlargement.

I am an optimist, because I believe that this is just a temporary slowdown. The most important thing right now is that candidate and potential candidate countries do not slow down with reform steps. Because if reforms stop, the enlargement will surely stop as well”, Hartmann told Banja Luka-based daily Nezavisne novine.

She reminded that Austria had always been advocating continuation of enlargement, regardless of which political parties were in power in the country.

Our foreign policy stance towards enlargement has always been the same. For us, being in favor of enlargement is completely logical”, said Hartmann.

We have strong ties with the region (of Western Balkans), from our shared history, to guest workers and refugees in Austria during wars in the Balkans, to students attending our universities. That is why we want all of those countries to be with us, in the EU”, she explained.

The Austrian Ambassador to Bosnia and Herzegovina confirmed that projects the EU had launched in the country and the region would not stop because of France’s veto on beginning of talks with North Macedonia and Albania.

It is the same like with the new government - you do not start everything from scratch”, Hartmann concluded.