EU or Russia: Bosnia Warns of a “Wrong Direction“ for the Balkans

Written by | Tuesday, November 29th, 2016

Bosnia and Herzegovina has emphasized that the country’s future lies in the European Union despite the problems with corruption, nationalism and the painful historical legacy. “We deserve to be in the European Union,“ Bosnian Prime Minister Denis Zvizdic said and added that his country has always been part of Europe in terms of geography, philosophy and way of thinking.

Mr Zvizdic, however, also said that the integration process of the Balkan states in the EU and NATO should be speeded up to prevent the region from going “in the wrong direction“ – meaning refocusing on Russia, which is trying to consolidate its influence in the region. In Mr Zvizdic’s opinion, if the region decides to go in a different direction, it will remain a headache for the EU. He also said that he was convinced that Brussels would not allow things to “take a wrong turn“.

70 percent of Bosnians are in favor of the EU membership, which is more than support for the EU in many EU Member States. However, Bosnia and Herzegovina is still battered by rampant corruption, although Prime Minister Zvizdic insisted that his country was winning that battle. Dario Jovanovic, head of an NGO fighting corruption and monitoring fair elections in the country, was far less optimistic – “The main problem is corruption. It’s a farce.“

Mr Jovanovic also said that corruption was persistent due to the complicated political structure the country inherited after the 1995 Dayton Agreement, which ended war but divided Bosnia and Herzegovina ethnically. The country is divided into the so-called Republika Srpska, which is mostly Serbian, and the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, which is mostly Bosniak and Bosniak Croat, resulting in three parliaments, a thousand deputies and 167 ministers for 4 million people.

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