In a ceremony held in Mostar on Thursday 26 March, the European Union’s High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy/Vice-President of the European Commission, Federica Mogherini, was named as recipient of the ‘European Leader’ award. The organisers made the award on the basis of HR/VP Mogherini’s contribution to Bosnia and Herzegovina’s EU perspective. Her role in negotiations to resolve the situations in Ukraine and Syria was also recognised.
In a written message read to the audience at the ceremony, HR/VP Mogherini said:
“Thank you for honouring me with the European Leader Award. Congratulations for choosing as slogan of this year’s event ‘Stamp for Europe’. Timely and appropriate, having in mind the country’s renewed relationship with the EU.
“Tonight is a media initiative and I want to underline how strongly we support independent and free media in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the region. The citizens need free media and the EU integration process needs it.
“2015 is a year of challenges in the Eastern and Southern borders of the EU. 2015 is a year of challenges and opportunities – mostly opportunities – for Bosnia and Herzegovina.
“Since the Council Conclusions of December 2014, Bosnia and Herzegovina and the European Union have turned a page in their relationship.
“The delivery of commitments by the BiH leadership pays off: the leadership of BiH signed a written commitment to implement reforms and is now working on a detailed initial agenda of reforms. This is an important first step. It allowed EU Foreign Ministers on 16 March to give the green light for the Stabilization and Association Agreement to enter into force.
“The people of BiH will benefit. The initial agenda for reform and the SAA provide a framework to improve people’s quality of life, and get the country closer to EU membership.
“Real progress on a reform agenda and on implementation of reforms would lead to the next steps: the submission and acceptance of a credible application for EU membership. I hope the positive developments achieved can sustain the energy and the momentum that I found in Sarajevo when I visited in February.
“2015 marks two decades since the Dayton-Paris Peace Accords. It is an anniversary of peace, a time to look back on the past and honour the victims and the suffering of the war, a time to pay respect to the victims of Srebrenica, but also a time to look to the future with hope.
“The progress achieved in the last two decades is important. BiH has consolidated its stability and it has started to develop a democratic culture. These are important achievements. But there is still need for deep reforms which the BiH authorities and the EU are discussing at the moment. Let’s not forget the regional dimension. We need to see the entire Western Balkans region steadily advancing in its European path.
“The EU stands ready to support swift and full implementation of the Minsk agreements, notably as regards the OSCE’s ability and capacity to monitor and assist its implementation. The EU remains committed to a political solution of the conflict. Violence has substantially decreased in eastern Ukraine but the situation remains volatile. The EU will continue to support Ukraine’s reform process. The EU’s financial assistance to Ukraine is the largest ever disbursed by the EU to a non-EU country.
“To the south, we face multiple and interconnected crises, from Libya and the Sahel to Syria-Iraq. We need to work harder to stop the immense human suffering in Syria. That’s why we have mobilized more than €3.3 billion for relief and recovery assistance to Syrians in their country, and to refugees and their host communities in neighbouring countries. But we know that our work has to focus on the solution of the conflict: a Syrian-led political transition.”