â€œNotable progress has been made in Bosnia over the last month, but important challenges lie ahead to enable a full transition from the Office of the International Community’s High Representative in Bosnia (OHR) to the Office of the EU Special Representative (EUSR),â€ the International Community’s High Representative/EU Special Representative in Bosnia Miroslav LajÄÃ¡k told EU Enlargement Commission Olli Rehn and the Political and Security Committee (PSC) ,a key EU foreign policy body,in Brussels yesterday.
The meeting with Olli Rehn focused on the results of this weekâ€™s meeting of the Peace Implementation Council (PIC) and Bosniaâ€™s process of EU integration and the need for a swift and efficient implementation of the Stabilisation and Association Agreement, which will come into force on 1st July.
In his briefing to the PSC, LajÄÃ¡k stressed that the signing of a Stabilisation and Association Agreement between Bosnia and the EU was a major accomplishment and cause for celebration.
â€œThis was the first time that Bosnia was united on any issue by the support of all its politicians and all of its constituent peoples. This day should continue to mark the dawn of a new era in the Bosnian history and politicsâ€, he said.
In the last month alone, there has been concrete progress on reaching an acceptable and sustainable resolution of defence property, entrenching the rule of law and completing the BrÄko Final Award.
â€œThis is impressive by any standards, but it is not to say that we are on the home straight to finish the job â€“ there are challenges aheadâ€, LajÄÃ¡k warned.
Speaking of his recent EU campaign visits to 16 cities across Bosnia, LajÄÃ¡k indicated that there is a great deal of unanimity, common concerns and interests amongst Bosnian citizens, which are different from what politicians impose as the topics of daily political life.
â€œThe national question is never the number one issue: unemployment is, followed by crime and corruption, the future of youth, education, visa liberalisation,â€ he said
LajÄÃ¡k stressed that that the vast majority of the 3,000 Bosnian citizens who took an active part in the campaign had told him that they want an EU future for Bosnia. This view has been confirmed by recent public opinion research, which has found that a record number of Bosnian citizens,over 80%, want Bosnia to become a member of the European Union.
PSC Ambassadors thanked the International Community’s High Representative/EU Special Representative in Bosnia for his efforts in moving Bosnia closer to the EU, and expressed their full support for the bench-mark driven strategy for OHR-EUSR transition, as reflected in the last PIC communiquÃ©.