Twenty years ago the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina was one of the most violent conflicts in modern European history. Europe saw warfare that had not been seen since the end of the World War Two. Today, Monday 15 February, saw the same country submit its application for EU membership.
EU High Representative/Vice-President Federica Mogherini and Commissioner Johannes Hahn in a joint statement stressed that the day is one of "celebration for all of us: only twenty years ago, it was in the Balkans where one of the most awful pages of the European history was written. Today we celebrate another step towards a united and peaceful continent."
The application is a good news first of all for the people of BiH, but also for of the EU: "As some forces across our continent are questioning the very existence of our Union, Bosnia and Herzegovina’s application shows that the need of a united European continent is still strong among our peoples. The decision to apply belongs to the citizens and government of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and to them only. But as the EU - together with our international partners and the international financial institutions - we have strongly invested in strengthening Bosnia and Herzegovina’s European perspective".
They praised the progress made. "We would not be here today if it were not for the country’s leadership. The country’s political system has delivered on its citizens’ needs - as long as all leaders and all government levels cooperate towards a common goal."
They went on to stress "there is still work to do, namely on implementing reforms to economic growth and social justice, the rule of law and the public administration", that's why "we expect that the authorities at all levels will ensure that the challenges the country faces when it comes to its judicial system are addressed constructively, in a spirit of dialogue and mutual understanding."
"Still there are wounds that need to be healed. But together we can help each other to move towards a future of reconciliation…twenty years after the war, it is about time we all looked ahead, towards our common future in a truly united Europe," Federica Mogherini and Johannes Hahn highlight the message of hope in their statement.