Ministers of Foreign Affairs of Italy and Austria: Bosnia and Herzegovina has made great progress

SARAJEVO, March 4 (FENA) – Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of the Republic of Italy Antonio Tajani and Federal Minister for European and International Affairs of the Republic of Austria Alexander Schallenberg said today that Bosnia and Herzegovina has made impressive progress in the past months, but that there is still much work to be done and that it is time to act now.

Italian Minister Tajani said that they are working hard to achieve this goal, that they support the reforms, and that the situation today is better than at any time in the history of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

”Your engagement will pave the way for the opening of negotiations with the EU and for the conclusion of negotiations to become a full member of the EU. The Western Balkans is a priority for Italy,” he said.

He points out that the cooperation is going in the right direction, especially on the most important issues such as security in the region, the fight against terrorism, trafficking in people, weapons and narcotics, and illegal migration.

He emphasized the importance of migration management and said that it is a common challenge because migration affects all countries.

The Federal Minister for European and International Affairs of the Republic of Austria, Alexander Schallenberg, said that Italy and Austria greatly advocate BiH’s entry into the EU.

”BiH is important to us in every sense and we were one of the first to ask for the opening of negotiations. In a few weeks, we hope for a green light to open negotiations. This is a key moment and BiH has made impressive progress in the past months,” he said.

He claims that BiH has achieved more in the past few months than in the past few years.

”We still have work ahead of us, but you have a positive agenda and positive results. It is time to act,” he said.

He claims that no politician in BiH should believe that he can stay on the sidelines and that anyone who stands in the way of a European BiH is stealing the future of this country.

He emphasized that about 44 percent of BiH citizens live outside the country and that Austria has benefited from this.

”People say that they want to invest in Bosnia and Herzegovina, but that they cannot find a workforce. That is why it is very important to give young a perspective in Bosnia and Herzegovina,” he said.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Elmedin Konaković, said that Austria and Italy are the biggest advocates of the process of BiH’s accession to the European Union and that they provide great support in this context.

Konaković said that they concluded that BiH had done a lot since their last visit, such as solving the EUROPOL contact point, adopting the reform program, seven or eight European laws, starting negotiations with FRONTEX, and they concluded that this was the best report of BiH in its history, but that BiH still has several important points that it hopes to fulfill.

”We will see if that is enough, given that we still have some conditions that we should have fulfilled by the European Council session. Some are in the procedure, I think that today we will have a law on conflict of interest at the session of the BiH Council of Ministers,” said Konaković.

Konaković underlined that Bosnia and Herzegovina needs leadership from the EU, not just bureaucratic processes and procedures, stressing again the importance of economic processes.

”BiH exports more than 93 percent of products to EU countries. It is impossible to find an approximate alternative and this cooperation can only be enhanced, if the support package for the Western Balkans is implemented according to plan, then Bosnia and Herzegovina will get a new billion euros available to support the economy. As well as the opportunity to significantly integrate its market into the single EU market,” said Konaković.