SARAJEVO (Bosnia and Herzegovina), October 19 (SeeNews) – Bosnian leaders must realize the significance of continuing the international community's efforts to assist the country’s integration processes, High Representative Valentin Inzko said on Monday.
“This opportunity should be utilized as this is the biggest display of international support in one concrete effort after the Dayton Peace Agreement,” Inzko said in a statement. He referred to the second round of talks of European Union and the U.S. officials with Bosnian politicians about reforms needed to speed up Bosnia's EU and NATO integration.
“BiH leaders must realize the significance of this moment and do their best to succeed. They owe it to the citizens and this country," reminded Inzko.
U.S. Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg, EU Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn and Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt arrived in Sarajevo on Monday to kick off the talks, which will officially start on Tuesday in Butmir, in central Bosnia.
Butmir success would facilitate the upcoming November meeting of Bosnia’s international overseeing body, the Peace Implementation Council (PIC), where the closure of the Office of the High Representative (OHR) and its transformation into a strengthened EUSR office will be discussed, the statement said. The closure of the office is a condition for Bosnia to continue its EU integration.
The Butmir process is an important step and can take Bosnia and Herzegovina towards NATO and EU membership, thus providing a prosperous future for the country, the statement said.
"Success would offer new hope and optimism to the people of this country,” Inzko said. “They need it and they deserve it. Those who fail to provide should answer to the citizens of this country.”
A political deadlock among Bosnia’s top leaders representing its three main ethnic groups - Bosnian Muslims, Serbs and Croats – on the future role of the international overseeing body in the country, the Office of the High Representative (OHR), has stalled reforms.
Bosnia and Herzegovina consists of a Muslim-Croat Federation, a Serb Republic and a neutral Brcko District, formed by the 1995 Dayton Peace Agreement which put an end to a three-year ethnic war in the Balkan country.
The European Commission said in its annual progress report last week Bosnia has made little progress towards EU accession this year as deteriorating political climate and nationalistic rhetoric have stalled reforms.
Bosnia signed a Stabilisation and Association Agreement with the EU, the first formal step towards membership of the bloc, in June 2008.