Friday, March 7, 2008


SARAJEVO, Bosnia (March 7,2008) – Head of the Delegation of the European Commission to Bosnia (EC} Dimitris Korkoulas presented in the Bosnian capital Sarajevo the West Balkans Communication, adopted by the European Commission for the purpose of creating the new and improving the existing initiatives which accelerate association processes in the region.

He said that these proposals will be presented to the EU members at an informal meeting of the Union’s foreign affairs ministers in Ljubljana, March 28 and 29.

European Commission wants to start a dialogue with all the countries of the region in order to develop a map of a road with concrete conditions that need to be fulfilled in order for the visa regime to be annulled.

Kourkoulas stated that the map will precisely define the conditions in the sector of document protection, illegal migration prevention, public order, security and foreign relations.

The speed of visa regime termination will depend on the pace each of the region’s countries will fulfill those conditions.

The European Commission foresees the increased number of scholarships for the students of the region interested in studying in the EU. Each year, 10 million Euros is provided for the purpose. The intention is to double the amount in 2009/2010.

Several new programs will open and will be made available to the West Balkans countries in the sector of scientific and research activities and education.

Commenting regional cooperation, the European Commission fully supports the work of RCC, headquartered in Sarajevo, which was formed as a transformation of the Stability Pact. The Commission is convinced that the CEFTA agreement will improve trade relations in the region, that is, that the CEFTA agreement is a useful addition to the SAA, and an important segment in Bosnia’s WTO association processes.

Kourkoulas emphasized that financial assistance of the EU for the southeastern European countries in the period from 2007 to 2011 is about 800 million Euros worth per a year, which is by far the greatest financial assistance of the EU to a region per capita.

EU’s financial package for Bosnia in 2007 was 62 million Euros. In this year, it amount is 74,8 million Euros. In the year 2009 it will mount to 79 million Euros.

The European Investment Bank also increased the loans available for the region’s countries to 2,8 billion Euros in the period from 2008 to 2010. The focus will be placed to transport, energy, environment protection, health insurance, education… Kourkoulas emphasized that BiH can benefit from the loans in realization of several projects.

The main political message of the European commission is support to the countries of the region; strategy has been made available. It is up to each of the countries’ efforts “to help us help you”, Kourkoulas stated.

All the new measures are a part of the SAA. Kourkoulas is of the opinion that it is unnecessary to change the Agreement. He sees no reasons why Bosnia should not sign SAA if the Mostar Declaration on Police Reform is implemented. However, he warned that that is not the end of the Bosnian Police Reform, quite the contrary.

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