European Union: Bosnia and Herzegovina begins talks to join the bloc

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The Council President published a photo of himself with the Prime Minister of Bosnia and Herzegovina

Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Balkan country, is set to begin EU membership negotiations, eight years after it formally applied to join the bloc.

The European Commission – the executive arm of the European Union – recommended last week that the talks begin.

European Union leaders have now given their approval to the plan.

European Council President Charles Michel congratulated the country's leaders, telling them: “Your place is in our European family.”

He published a photo of himself shaking hands with Borjana Kresto, Prime Minister of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

“Today's decision is a major step forward on the path to European Union. Now the hard work must continue for Bosnia and Herzegovina to advance steadily, as your people want.”

Shortly after, Ms. Christou expressed her thanks, saying: “Mutual determination and effort have achieved the necessary level of compliance with requirements and standards.”

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz described Bosnia's support as a “good message” for the entire region.

Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic said it was a “historic day for our neighbor and friend Bosnia and Herzegovina!”

Bosnia has long been waiting for the green light to hold talks.

In 2003, the European Union issued the Thessaloniki Declaration, saying it wanted the Western Balkan countries to join it. Since then, only Croatia has completed the complex accession process.

After applying for membership in 2016, Bosnia was granted candidate status in October 2022.

Over the past year, it has passed laws related to the priorities identified by the committee that focus on democracy, state performance, the rule of law, fundamental rights and public administration reform.

Some of these laws include cracking down on money laundering, conflicts of interest, and even approving negotiations on an agreement with the European border agency Frontex.

Bosnia remains ethnically and politically divided, even decades after the war that tore the country apart between 1992 and 1995, leaving more than 100,000 people dead and millions displaced.

It may take many more years for the country to officially join the European Union, as it will be required to implement further economic and democratic reforms.

Albania, Georgia, Kosovo, Moldova, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia, Turkey and Ukraine have applied to join the bloc and are at different stages of the application process.

The war in Ukraine increased the European Union's awareness of its need to demonstrate its commitment to the Western Balkans.

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