October 3, 2009 – The European Union and the United States will present
Bosnia's ethnically divided leaders next week with a plan to settle
their differences and clear the way for the country's EU candidacy,
officials said on Friday.
European Union president Sweden said in Stockholm the EU and United
States would convene a meeting of Bosnian leaders in Sarajevo on October
9 to try to end political deadlock blocking reforms needed for Bosnia's
Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt and U.S. Deputy Secretary of State
Jim Steinberg would present Bosnian leaders with a plan to overcome the
stalemate, U.S. ambassador Charles English told reporters in Sarajevo.
"We expect to present the package that will be sufficiently
comprehensive to allow Bosnia-Herzegovina to accelerate its candidacy
process both for the NATO and for the European Union," he told a joint
news conference with EU officials. He declined to elaborate on the
"I expect that conference will be a vigorous negotiation and I am
hopeful that the results will speak for themselves," English said.
Bosnia is still plagued by instability and ethnic division 14 years
after the end of Europe's worst conflict since World War Two.
It remains divided between two former adversaries, the Serb Republic and
the Muslim-Croat federation and rivalry between the two regions has
blocked the work of the central government and halted reforms for EU
The meeting will be held at the EU peacekeeping force's Camp Butmir at
the outskirts of Sarajevo.
Lars Wahlund of the Swedish Foreign Ministry said the joint initiative
showed a strong U.S. and EU commitment to Bosnia.
"We now have the situation where the whole region moves ahead toward EU
and/or NATO and in this situation it's extremely dangerous to leave
Bosnia behind," Wahlund said.
"If we are able to reach compromises on several issues, that will open
up the application for EU membership, for NATO, for visa liberalization
and other issues," he added.
Bosnia submitted a request on Thursday for a NATO membership action plan
but alliance officials said the country had yet to meet NATO standards
in areas such as democracy and military effectiveness.
The EU has said Bosnia must move beyond the stewardship of an
international overseer and change its constitution before it can be
considered for EU membership.
(Reporting by Daria Sito-Sucic in Sarajevo and Anna Ringstrom in
Stockholm; Editing by Andrew Dobbie)