The EU Ambassador to Bosnia and Herzegovina, Johann Sattler, hosted today's public debate “Together We Are Europe“, marking a one year anniversary of the publication of the European Commission Opinion on Bosnia and Herzegovina's application for membership of the European Union. Progress needed to be made on the 14 key priorities in the areas of democracy, rule of law, public administration and fundamental rights was discussed at the debate.
The discussion saw the participation of the BiH Presidency Chair, Šefik Džaferović;Director of the Directorate for the European Integration, Edin Dilberović;President of the Sarajevo Municipal Court, Janja Jovanović; Ambassador of the Check Republic, Ivana Hlavsova; Italian Ambassador Nicola Minasi; German Ambassador Margret Uebber, Swedish Ambassador Johanna Strömquist,, political analysts Adnan Huskić andAdi Ćerimagić;CSO Vasa pravaDirector Emir Prcanović;CIN DirectorLeila Bičakčić, and youth representatives Miloš Kovačević of theCerebra and Vanja Mihajlović, Linije solidarnosti. Over a one hundred representatives of CSOs, academic and business communities, youth and media were able to join the event and ask questions via the Zoom application.
The 90-minute debate was divided into three segments, touching upon the next steps to be taken in meeting the Opinion priorities, as well as getting more citizens involved in the democratic processes in BiH.
Ambassador Sattler pointed out that a vast majority of citizens supports the country's membership in the European Union which the political actors should make possible for the citizens as soon as possible. “Bosnia and Herzegovina's path towards the European Union means meeting the EU standards in all areas of life and reforms the institutions and citizens need to implement in order to meet those standards,“ added Sattler.
The BiH Presidency Chair, Šefik Džaferović, expressed his gratitude to the European Union for the support it provided to Bosnia and Herzegovina in the past, as well as, in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. He pointed out that the European perspective of the Western Balkans and the need to accelerate the EU integration process were reaffirmed at the Zagreb Summit.
During the discussion on the rule of law, the online portal for communicating with citizens “Pravo na pravdu“, established by the Vaša prava CSO and supported by the EU,was officially presented. The organisation's Director Emir Prcanović said that the portal is a follow up to the EU supported public debate on the rule of law held in November
last year and it should enable a direct communication with the citizens, helping its transparency thru the access to information.
Ambassador Minasi and Ambassador Hvalsova highlighted the importance of the rule of law to the lives of the citizens, while the Sarajevo Municipal Court President, Janja Jovanović, said that judiciary should help citizens to exercise their rights in a timely and efficient manner.
The need for a greater involvement of citizens and civil society in the EU integration process was highlighted by DEI Director Emir Dilberović at the end of the discussion. Ambassador Stromquist pointed out the importance of the citizens’ engagement throughout all segments of the process, thus strengthening its transparency. Ambassador Uebber said in her concluding remarks that the greater citizens’ engagement would help citizens be more informed on the state of play in the country.
Ambassador Sattler concluded the discussion by reiterating the willingness of the EU and MS to support the country's efforts on its way to the EU.
The EC Opinion on Bosnia and Herzegovina's application for membership of the European Union was published on 29 May, 2019. Together with the corresponding Analytical Report, the Opinion outlines the recommendations the country needs to meet in order to advance on its path towards the EU.