High Representative/Vice-President Josep Borrell concluded his visit to three countries in the Western Balkans in Bosnia and Herzegovina on 16 March.
The High Representative visited the EU Operation EUFOR Althea, received by COMEUFOR Major General Anton General Wessely. As the High Representative said:
“EUFOR’s presence to support the authorities in maintaining a safe and secure environment has become even more important. We have almost doubled our presence on the ground, with four additional companies and there are further assets offered by EU Member States to strengthen our capabilities even more. In these tense moments, I want to reassure the people of Bosnia and Herzegovina of our unwavering commitment to maintain safety and stability, and at the same time reinforce our ability to react swiftly in case of crisis. This reflects the EU’s commitment to the unity, territorial integrity and sovereignty of Bosnia and Herzegovina“.
Via the European Peace Facility, the EU recently mobilised €10 million to further assist local authorities, supported by EUFOR Althea to work toward full demining of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
In Sarajevo, the High Representative met with the leaders of the opposition parties of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The HRVP recognised the importance of constructive work ongoing to find a way ahead on important legislations such as the constitutional/electoral reform and the integrity package. The EU High Representative said that the political deadlock needs to be overcome, parties need to return fully to State institutions and focus on reforms, which will make the country advance on its EU integration.
The High Representative met the political party leaders SDA Bakir Izetbegović, HDZ BiH Dragan Čović and SNSD Milorad Dodik. Against the backdrop of Russia’s violent attack on Ukraine and the Ukrainian people, they discussed the grave implications for global security and international order. The High Representative stressed that it is time to act responsibly. He urged them to end the deadlock over the political crisis and progress on the constitutional/electoral reform. The High Representative and the leaders agreed to continue discussing in the coming weeks.
The HRVP met with the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina Željko Komšić, Šefik Džaferović and Milorad Dodik. As highest authority in the country, the High Representative called on the leaders to set the course together on issues of fundamental importance for Bosnia and Herzegovina such as ensuring full functionality of all state institutions, unity on foreign policy, promoting dialogue and advancing on EU reforms.
During the visit, High Representative Borrell also met women peacebuilders to discuss the implication of President Putin’s aggression on Ukraine. The current events bring back painful memories and vivid fears of the people who experienced the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina 30 years ago. The High Representative listened carefully and said that Europeans have learned the lesson. The EU is today united, prepared and resolute in defending our values against external threats to maintain stability in the EU and our closest neighbourhood.