Prime Minister of the Republic of Srpska Zeljka Cvijanovic spoked in Banja Luka with Head of the Delegation of the European Union/Special Representative of the European Union in BiH, Ambassador Lars-Gunnar Wigemark.
Prime Minister Cvijanovic stated after the meeting that several issues have been discussed during the meeting and that the focus was primarily on how to de-block the reform processes related to the Reform Agenda.
“One of those subjects that we dealt with was the matter of the Transport Community and how BiH could become a member of that Community since the problems that occurred prevented us from joining that arrangement”, the Prime Minister said and expressed her belief that ‘internal talks’ would lead to solution and remove the obstacles.
Prime Minister Cvijanovic stressed that she conveyed to Ambassador Wigemark that the problems that occurred with regard to the Transport Community were primarily of internal nature and occurred with regard to the relations of various levels of governance and had nothing to do with the relation of Banja Luka toward Brussels and reiterated the commitment of the Republic of Srpska toward European integration. The latter had, inetr alia, been demonstrated by the fact that Repubic of Srpska fulfilled obligations from the Reform Agenda and MMF arrangement already half a year ago.
“We addressed the issue of defining joint strategies which is a demanding job but we have to appreciate all government levels and all priorities in both entities in order to generate something that is called a joint BiH document”, the Prime Minister said and added that a lot of understanding and consensus has been achieved thus far.
Head of the Delegation of the European Union/Special Representative of the European Union in BiH, Lars-Gunnar Wigemark stated that the meeting with Prime Minister Cvijanovic was as all previous meetings useful and that it centered on the pace of European integration process.
“One of the good news is that Coordination mechanism is up and running, that working groups have been formed and are working on the whole procedure of preparing joint answers to the European Commission Questionnaire”, Ambassador Wigemark said.
Head of the EU Delegation in BiH said that at certain point we all witnessed that some reform measures slowed down and in some cases stopped. Mr. Wigemark went on saying that whereas in 2016 the EU and its member states were impressed with the progress made in implementing reforms in BiH, in submitting the application for EU membership and positive signal through the External Relations Council, in 2017 there was hardly any progress at all.
“Another negative signal was sent last week from Trieste when BiH was not able to sign the Transport Community Treaty along with other West Balkans countries. Prime Minister Cvijanovic as well as President Dodik confirmed that it was not the substance which is disputed but as frequently is the case here how to coordinate internally various views and positions within BiH”, Head of the EU Delegation said.
Ambassador Wigemark underlined that he hoped that a solution would be found for the issue of the Transport Community since its relevance was non-questionable and added that the same applied to other reform measures including the Law on excise taxes, the issue which must be resolved.
“We have not on our part requested any special solution, arrangement or concrete amount. Our position is that local authorities must agree and solve this or otherwise the whole process of European integration would be jeopardized”, Mr. Wigemark said and added that it unacceptable that any party or political leaders in power could not find a common solution were just passively sitting and waiting the situation to be resolved.
Head of the EU Delegation in BiH further said the EU is that the point in applying for the EU membership was in accountability and responsible leadership and responsible acting.
“We are really not taking anybody’s side, nor are we pointing finger. We are simply calling upon domestic politicians and leaders to coordinate their positions in an adequate way especially in cases which involves a joint appearance at the international scene, which is, mildly speaking, embarrassing. At the same time, we insist on joint strategies. As we insisted on joint strategy in the area of transport, we are now insisting on joint strategies in the areas of energy, environmental protection and the employment strategy, one of the most important ones at the moment”, Wigemark said.
Mr. Wigemark concluded by saying that during all those activities it was necessary to take into consideration the competences opf various government levels from entity and cantons to the state and that the whole process of preparing joint strategies, consolidation of positions and approaches for signing of international agreements was in fact preparation for the European path and accession.