Edtstadler: It is geopolitically necessary for BiH to stand together with the European Union

The Federal Minister of the Republic of Austria for the European Union and Constitutional Affairs, Karolina Edtstadler, who is visiting Bosnia and Herzegovina, assessed that it is geopolitically necessary for BiH to stand together with the European Union to continue working on the enlargement process.

After a meeting with the BiH Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Josip Brkić, Edtstadler said today in Sarajevo that she is aware of the frustration caused by stagnation and that she wants that to change.

“Now is the time for all of us to stand together with the EU and to unite our values. We do not want the Western Balkans, especially, in this case, Bosnia and Herzegovina, to fall into the background,” she pointed out.

Edtstadler said that BiH and Austria have a lot in common historically and that Austria is the biggest investor in BiH where more than 200 Austrian companies are active.

She emphasized that in 2022, the foreign trade volume amounted to 1.53 billion euros and was at a record level, and also that imports and exports have increased in 2023.

“Bosnia and Herzegovina is the only country in the Western Balkans that exports more to Austria than it imports from Austria,” said Edtstadler and said that these potentials should be expanded.

She pointed out that her visit to BiH is connected with the latest developments at the European level, and that BiH is facing very important consultations.

“The European ministers in Brussels will prepare conclusions for the heads of states and governments, after which we will discuss further action in the context of accession negotiations with Bosnia and Herzegovina, but also with Ukraine and the Republic of Moldova,” said Edtstadler.

This means, she believes, that now is the key moment for Bosnia and Herzegovina to prove once again that it wants to implement the reforms and that it will continue the reform activities in order to achieve the set goals.

She emphasized that the European Commission described progress in the report and that important laws were adopted this year, such as the amendments to the law on the High Judicial and Prosecutorial Council, as well as changes to the law on the Ombudsman, on access to information and the law on foreigners.

“The goal is to make the benefits of joining the EU available to the people, so that they understand what it entails. Depending on the progress, you can immediately feel the benefits,” she said.

She emphasized that reform processes are sometimes painful, but that it is now necessary to take these steps.

“I want to mention the development of events in the entity of Republika Srpska, which still casts a shadow over the achieved success. It is important that the sovereignty and territorial integrity and constitutional order of the state of Bosnia and Herzegovina be maintained. It is essential also for the European Union. Austria supports that and I will say that clearly,” she said.

She also added that Austria supports the High Representative in BiH and that attacks on his authority are absolutely unacceptable.

“We want Bosnia and Herzegovina in the family of the European Union and we will continue to support it,” concluded Edtstadler.