Spanish Prime Minister Sanchez backs European candidacy for Bosnia

Spain’s prime minister on Saturday voiced support for Bosnia’s bid to join the European Union, fearing uncertainty caused by war in Ukraine could fuel instability in the world-torn Balkan nation. ethnic plane that went through a devastating conflict in the 1990s.

Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez came to Sarajevo from Serbia, where he kicked off his tour of the Balkan region on Friday. Sanchez will also travel to Montenegro, North Macedonia and Albania.

“During my meetings today, I wanted to underline the opportunity that would be for Bosnia and Herzegovina if the European Union were to approach its enlargement with a new sense of urgency,” Sanchez said during a a press conference.

Yet Bosnia, still dominated by nationalist politicians long after the end of the 1992-95 war, was locked in political and ethnic strife that stalled the country’s bid for EU membership. Bosnian Serbs, backed by Russia, have sought more independence for their Serb-ruled half of the country, while disagreements between Bosniaks, who are predominantly Muslim, and Croats have stalled the normal functioning of their common entity.

The political stalemate has raised fears that Bosnia will face further ethnic divisions if left behind in the EU process. Some regional leaders have called for Bosnia to gain EU candidate status along with Ukraine and Moldova in June to show the EU’s commitment to the volatile region.

Sanchez said Spain supports Bosnia’s “European perspective”. He expressed hope that the country would take the necessary steps to become a candidate for membership by the time Spain takes over the rotating EU presidency in the second half of 2023.

“At the last European Council (meeting), I told my fellow heads of government (of) my full support for the designation of Bosnia and Herzegovina as a candidate country.” Sanchez said.

Sanchez also noted the Srebrenica massacre in July 1995, when Bosnian Serb troops executed more than 8,000 Bosniaks months before the end of the war, a crime that has been named the only European genocide since World War II. .

More than 100,000 people were killed and millions displaced in the Bosnian war from 1992 to 1995 before it ended with a US-brokered peace deal.

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