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Catching the EU Train

Sarajevo. I did spend the weekend in this historic city chairing a conference about the road to EU membership of Bosnia and Herzegovina. We were able to bring together representatives from the different ethnic entities and from the region. All of them social democrats of course. Political life is still very complicated in Bosnia and the ordinary people pay the price.

Sarajevo. I did spend the weekend in this historic city chairing a conference about the road to EU membership of Bosnia and Herzegovina. We were able to bring together representatives from the different ethnic entities and from the region. All of them social democrats of course. Political life is still very complicated in Bosnia and the ordinary people pay the price.

While Croatia is close to EU membership and the citizens of Macedonia, Montenegro and even Serbia will enjoy visa freedom in the EU before Christmas, Bosnia is at a standstill. The DNA factor is blocking the creation of an efficient state that will be able to represent all citizens despite their ethnic background. Serbs and Bosniacs are not able to agree on the division of powers within Bosnia Herzegovina. Actually the DNA factor is a virtual one because ethnicity here is actually determined by religious backgrounds (catholic, orthodox, muslim).

Identity issues dominate the political agenda and they help to sustain a political class that has no real political agenda and does not want real change because that might endanger their positions. And the people suffer. We were shown some figures: Almost 90% of the citizens say the country is going in the wrong direction; national issues are very low on their agenda and, not surprisingly with such politicians, they are heavily in favour of the EU.

The Serbs want to get rid of the High Representative who on behalf of the international community can intervene in local politics. He should be replaced with someone from the EU who would help the country join the EU. The Bosniacs are hesitant. They fear that Bosnia could fall apart if there is no longer an external power. I nevertheless think it is time this country should stand on its own feet.

But before all the national politicians should take their job more seriously and introduce the necessary reforms to bring Bosnia up to EU standards.

Terug

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