Speaking at an address at the University of Sarajevo in Bosnia this evening (Thursday), Minister for European Affairs, Paschal Donohoe TD, said that in order for advances to be made towards membership of the European Union for Bosnia and Herzegovina a credible effort would have to be made by political leaders on all sides (see full speech below).
The Minister is in Sarajevo for meetings with key political leaders, to address students and NGOs at the University and to meet with the local Irish community in Sarajevo, including members of the Irish Defence Forces stationed there as part of the EU mission.
The Irish Government is a strong supporter of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and recognises the significant constitutional, political and economic challenges that country faces.
There is concern however that the pace of reform that had been undertaken has slowed and that Bosnia and Herzegovnia risks lagging behind its neightbours in terms of advancement towards the EU.
For a membership application to be considered by the EU by Bosnia and Herzegovnia, a credible effort must be seen in dealing with issues such as discrimination and the ability of the country to speak with a strong and single voice. Only when these issues have been dealt with can Bosnia and Herzegovina begin to take the necessary steps along the path towards EU membership.
I would urge political leaders to work together to resolve outstanding issues, particularly ahead of the elections due to take place in the country later this year. Putting aside short-term ethnic or party interests and placing a firm focus on the long-term interest of the country will send a strong signal that the political leaders are serious about EU membership and that they are prepared to work together to that end.