Sarajevo, 24 July 2014
Excellences, Ladies and Gentlemen, dear friends and partners.
Thank you very much for being here today.
I am particularly honoured to have the Foreign Minister of Italy—who is also representing the Italian Presidency of the Council of the European Union—H.E. Federica Mogherini, as well as the Chairman of the Council of Ministers of Bosnia and Herzegovina, H.E. Vjekoslav Bevanda, with us today.
Socio-economic reform in Bosnia and Herzegovina is urgently needed. It is necessary in order to spur investment and ultimately to create jobs for the many, especially amongst the unemployed youth. And we all know this.
But instead of listening to the constant cry for reform that we have heard now for many years, we set out earlier this year to ask whether it is possible to agree on a simple set of priority measures that that would re-ignite the process of modernising the economy?
We asked this question—with many of you—in May during the Forum for Prosperity and Jobs. We did so in order to assist Bosnia and Herzegovina to fulfil the EU’s economic accession criteria in the economic sphere, namely to have a functioning market economy in place as well as to have the capacity to cope with competitive pressures. But, more importantly, we embarked upon this process in order to help the citizens of this country to improve your own lives and prospects.
The Forum for Prosperity and Jobs was attended by a broad spectrum of civil, academic, business and political society and it identified a package of six concrete and urgent measures. The measures were supported by the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank Group, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the European Union, the United States of America, other concerned nations and visiting experts. They all fully concurred that reform is essential and possible. Further consultations with a wide variety of experts led to the production of – a Compact for Growth and Jobs – that I have the pleasure of presenting here today.
The process of re-invigorating the economy of Bosnia and Herzegovina will require a broad spectrum of support, discussion and monitoring in order to succeed. Top down approaches to socio-economic modernisation, which can be controversial and sometimes painful, will not work. Our approach must allow the majority of the society to profit—especially the youth—and grant many more citizens of this country access to opportunity, benefits and jobs.
This is where you are needed. I can only encourage you to get involved, to participate in the debate and to express your support for the Compact. Require your political representatives to endorse and implement the Compact. The Compact should set the socio-economic agenda of Bosnia and Herzegovina for the years to come. Your governments must implement these reforms for the sake of a better future of this country and its citizens. The EU and the other members of the International Community are ready to assist.
Chairman, the floor is yours!