British Ambassador to Bosnia and Herzegovina Matthew Field dedicated his new blogpost to Brexit, and possible consequences it would have on relations between the United Kingdom and Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Field noted that the UK would leave the EU on January 31. “With this departure, the UK Government fulfils a commitment made following the referendum of 2016. It is understandable to ask what this means for the UK in Bosnia and Herzegovina - a country working to join that same organization - and in the wider world. In both senses, you will see more, not less of the UK”, he wrote.
The UK Ambassador also reminded that back in 2018, long after the referendum decision to leave the EU, former Prime Minister Theresa May hosted leaders from across the Western Balkans for a London Summit under the Berlin Process. May announced a doubling of UK bilateral assistance to the entire region, from £40 million to £80 million, and increased staffing to work on political and security issues in UK embassies.
“These increases, which we will reach in the year ahead, have given our Embassy in Bosnia and Herzegovina the tools to be more active, more visible, and hopefully have a greater impact. What are we trying to achieve? A stable, prosperous and functional country, an inclusive home for all its citizens. To put this another way, given the real challenge of people leaving, we want to help build a country in which everyone has the conditions and opportunities to stay and succeed”, wrote Field.
“We are helping to reduce red tape for business to create more and better jobs, and depoliticizing public companies to provide better services to citizens, especially in healthcare, transport and the environment”, he explained. “We are supporting more transparent and stronger courts, to tackle corruption and organized crime, and strengthening the election process to build confidence in results. We are teaching coding and critical thinking in every primary school in the country, and sending the largest ever group of B&H scholars to the UK to study, to prepare them for 21st century jobs. And we are supporting reforms in the Armed Forces of Bosnia and Herzegovina, to protect country’s interests and contribute to international security”, the UK Ambassador added.
Field underlined that the UK would continue to work closely with the EU as a partner, “because our interests, history and goals remain so closely aligned”.
“This is important in Bosnia and Herzegovina, a country working to join the EU. It is not the UK’s place to tell BiH whether or not to join, but we do respect the overwhelming support here for that aim. And we will ensure our practical support complements the demands of EU accession, especially in the critical areas of rule of law, democratic institutions and creating economic opportunity, because these are the right things for Bosnia and Herzegovina in the short-term, irrespective of EU membership in the long-term”, concluded Field.