Wednesday, June 18, 2008


SARAJEVO, Bosnia (June 18,2008) – Javier Solana, the High Representative for the European Union’s Common Foreign and Security Policy, expressed his satisfaction ,in an interview for Bosnian daily Dnevni Avaz,over the fact that Bosnia has signed a Stabilisation and Association Agreement with the European Union.

"First of all, allow me to congratulate all Bosnian citizens for this significant achievement. The Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA) is an international agreement between Bosnia and the European Union and it represents the first step towards EU membership.

Now it is necessary to show that the country is ready for a swift implementation of the SAA in order to reach the next phase, namely the application for candidate status.How much time this will take, depends only on the political leadership of Bosnia and their readiness to overcome political and other obstacles in the implementation process. As for the EU, we have been reiterating constantly that we would like Bosnia and other countries of the Western Balkan to become equal members of the European Union. Our wish for you to join the EU is important, but it is not sufficient. In order to become a part of the EU, you have to play by the common rules. The sooner you do this, the faster will we be able to go further",Solana said.

DNEVNI AVAZ: What will be the role of the International Community in Bosnia from now on? In more concrete terms, what will the EU do in Bosnia? What are the EU’s priorities?

SOLANA: Our priority remains the same, which is the full integration of the country into the EU. Priorities for Bosnia are to implement the SAA and fulfill the criteria and conditions for the closure of the Office of the International Community's High Representative in Bosnia (OHR). The role of the international community changes as the situation in Bosnia changes. The key moment to change our role will be when the OHR closes down. The EU will then take over the leading role on behalf of the international community. However, before we can speak about this, Bosnia's politicians need to focus on fulfilling the five objectives and two conditions set by the Peace Implementation Council with regard to the transition of the Office of the High Representative into the Office of the EU Special Representative.

DNEVNI AVAZ: One of the biggest problems of all countries in the Western Balkan is corruption. What do you expect Bosnia to do in order to fight corruption and organised crime?

SOLANA: Corruption and organised crime continue to be a serious problem, although some progress has been made. Bosnia has adopted a strategy for the fight against organised crime and corruption, and this strategy needs to be implemented in an adequate way. What is needed now is the establishment of certain structures to fight organised crime and corruption and the increase of the capacities of the Bosnian law enforcement agencies in this domain.

DNEVNI AVAZ: The SAA was in a way overshadowed by the opening of the visa regime liberalisation process. By when can we expect visa abolishment?

SOLANA: I would not say that the SAA was overshadowed. It is just that the liberalisation of the visa regime is more ‘palpable’ than the signature of the SAA. Allow me to emphasise that the opening of visa regime liberalisation negotiations is a concrete example of our commitment towards the region. If there is political will, I am sure that Bosnia will be able to meet all criteria soon. I cannot give you a precise date for visa abolishment, as this issue - just like every other issue - depends on how quickly Bosnia will be able to fulfill the conditions. Just like other countries of the Western Balkans, Bosnia will also have to fulfill technical conditions before it can sign a visa regime liberalisation agreement. A full list of conditions has been handed over to the the Bosnian Foreign Minister. It is now up to the political leaders of the country to do their job.

Full cooperation with the ICTY remains one of the top priorities and obligations for Bosnian authorities. The recent arrest of Stojan Zupljanin is very positive news. The arrest of persons indicted for war crimes, their extradition to court and fair trial is something that is of benefit for all. All possible efforts have now to be made in order to arrest the remaining indicted war criminals in order to close down this tragic chapter in Bosnian history. As for the judicial system in Bosnia, additional efforts also need to be invested in order to improve its functioning. Bosnian authorities have to ensure the adequate financial and administrative functioning of the judicial system. Also, I must stress again how important it is for the judiciary to be free of any political interference.

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