EU president says Brussels to support united Bosnia

The European Union will support Bosnia in its bid to join the bloc as a united country that would be able to speak with one voice, visiting EU President Herman Van Rompuy said here on Wednesday. He was speaking after the October 3 election, in which moderates gained ground in the Muslim-Croat half of the country but hardliners remained entrenched in the Serb entity, casting a shadow over Bosnia’s EU ambitions.

“I would like to recall the EU support to the territorial integrity of Bosnia-Hercegovina as a sovereign and united country,” Van Rompuy told journalists. “The EU will continue to support Bosnia-Hercegovina, will support it as one country able to speak with one voice and willing to progress firmly on the road towards EU membership,” he stressed.

Rompuy, who visits Bosnia after the October 3 general elections, also called the country’s leaders to accelerate reforms that have been blocked for several years.

“Bosnia’s progress is slower than we all hoped for,” Van Rompuy said. The former Yugoslav republic should not stay behind other countries on the European path, he added.

“This is not in the country’s interest, in the region’s interest and certainly not in the EU’s interest”.

Since the end of the 1992-1995 war Bosnia had been made up of two semi-autonomous entities: the Muslim-Croat Federation and the Serbs’ Republika Srpska. The two share weak central institutions while each has its own government.

The international community, notably the European Union, wants the country’s central institutions to be strengthened to facilitate reforms necessary to be eligible for EU and NATO membership.

A series of earlier reforms allowed Bosnia to unify its armed forces, customs services and fiscal system. But ethnic differences mainly between Muslims and Serbs have blocked efforts to boost other central institutions.

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