Brussels – European future of Bosnia and Herzegovina - 20 years after Dayton-Paris Peace Agreement

9 December 2015
Presentation by Gerald Knaus. Video: Andrej Plenković, MEP

ESI's Gerald Knaus was invited to speak at a conference organised by the European Parliament in Brussels on the "European future of Bosnia and Herzegovina – 20 years after Dayton-Paris Peace Agreement".

The conference was attended by H.E. Dragan Čović, Chairman of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina and H.E. Bakir Izetbegović, Bosniak Member of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The aim of the conference was to keep Bosnia and Herzegovina high on the priority agenda of the EU, especially after the adoption of the new EU policy approach towards Bosnia. It discussed how the latest Commission's progress report can further guide reform processes and the fulfilment of demanding criteria in the implementation of the Stabilization and Association Agreement between the EU and Bosnia and Herzegovina.

In his presentation, Gerald outlined that it is a common cliché that Bosnia is politically stuck because of its leaders and divided administrations, unable to coordinate, unwilling to reform, obstructing the implementation of reasonable EU conditionality. However, the truth is different: for more than a decade now European institutions have discriminated against Bosnia, demotivating reformers, disheartening civil servants and undermining progress. The EU has acted like a strict teacher constantly telling her pupils how lucky they are to be allowed into the school canteen despite being corrupt, lazy and generally hopeless; and that every achievement or successful reform is the result of the work of foreigners, while for every failure Bosnians are the only ones to blame.

Gerald underlined that it is time for Bosnia to be allowed to escape this limbo. It is time for Bosnia to submit an application for membership, and for the EU to stop treating Bosnia in a discriminatory manner as a special case.

Other participants included:

  • Federica Mogherini, HR of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and VP of the Commission
  • Johannes Hahn, Commissioner for EU Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations
  • Brian Yee Hoyt, Deputy Assistant Secretary, U.S. Department of State
  • Valentin Inzko, High Representative for BiH
  • Doris Pack, Former Rapporteur for Bosnia and Herzegovina in the European Parliament
  • Lars-Gunnar Wigemark, EU Ambassador, HoD and Special Representative in Bosnia and Herzegovina
  • Elmar Brok, Chairman of the Committee on Foreign Affairs in the European Parliament

Conference agenda

European future of Bosnia and Herzegovina - 20 years after Dayton-Paris Peace Agreement