Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Bildt: Bosnian Leaders to be Blamed for Visas Failure

Bildt: Bosnian Leaders to be Blamed for Visas Failure
Brussels | 21 July 2009 |

European Commission Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt says that the Sarajevo leadership is to blame for their country being bypassed by the European Commission, EC, in its visa liberalisation plan.

“They [Bosnian citizens] are victims of the inability of their political leaders to agree,” Bildt said on Tuesday.

“We spent the entire day with the Bosnian leadership, the entire spectrum, telling them to get their acts together, and told them if they don’t the train for visas will pass,” Bildt said, recalling his visit to Sarajevo a couple of weeks ago. “That had some effect and they started to do things but not enough," he said.

The Swedish minister confirmed that, two weeks before the EC proposal was published, he visited Bosnia and Herzegovina again to remind politicians that the clock was ticking and warned them: “Accusations [against] the international community can take you absolutely nowhere."

On July 15, the EC recommended visa-free travel for Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia. Bosnia and Herzegovina's candidacy for this so-called first wave of liberalisation was rejected.

However, the European Commission visa scheme includes citizens of the Republika Srpska entity who hold biometric Serbian passports. With Bosnian Croats already able to secure Croatian passports, after January 1, 2010, Bosnian Muslims are the only citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina who will be unable to benefit from the visa liberalisation scheme.

This fact was the main object of concern for most European deputies who asked for explanations during Bildt’s presentation on Sweden's six-month term in the EU presidency.

“I do hope that BIH [Bosnian] leaders are acting," Bildt said, adding that they were fighting a “war of words" in the wake of their country's conflict. “Let them now look at the future for the benefit of the people. And Bosnian politicians can now demonstrate by getting together and [achieving the] necessary conditions,” he said.

Bildt, who was the EU special envoy in the Balkans during the war in Bosnia, also addressed the possibility of changes in the Dayton agreement, which ended the conflict. He argued that Dayton is not enough for Bosnia.

“We need a transition in Bosnia from the backward-looking Dayton structure [...] to a forward looking Brussels structure looking to the future,” he said.

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