“Our main message is that the atmosphere in Brussels regarding Bosnia and Herzegovina has changed. Today, EU enlargement has become a political process that we want to speed up,” Prime Minister Golob said during his visit to Bosnia and Herzegovina, adding that he wants to be Slovenia is its biggest ally.
Slovenia wants to be Bosnia and Herzegovina’s biggest ally, so it will provide all possible help on its way to the European Union, the Prime Minister announced in Sarajevo Robert Dove after a meeting with the Presiding Council of Ministers of Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) Borjana Kristo.
Krištova thanked Golob for supporting Slovenia in obtaining candidate status for membership in the European Union (EU). In her opinion, this sends an important message that the city of BiH is in the union.
Bosnia and Herzegovina applied for EU membership in February 2016. The European Commission then set 14 conditions for it in 2019, which should be fulfilled in Sarajevo for candidate status. BiH has not yet met the conditions, but in light of the war in Ukraine, the EU still decided to grant it candidate status.
Golob: The change is historic
According to Golob, the impact of the war in Ukraine significantly contributed to the change in the atmosphere in Brussels when it comes to the expansion of the union into the Western Balkans. “The change is historic. For 20 years, the enlargement process was actually halted by these technical-administrative issues. Today, EU enlargement has become a political issue, and this moment must be seized,” he emphasized after the meeting with the host, the chairperson of the Council of Ministers of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
“BiH is at a historic moment to take advantage of the changed circumstances,” he said and announced to the country both technical and financial assistance to Slovenia on its European path.
“Slovenia doesn’t just want to be friendly to countries, but its biggest ally, so we will provide all possible help to take advantage of this historic opportunity, from experts to financial resources,” he said.
What Golob advises Bosnia and Herzegovina
At the same time, he advised Bosnia and Herzegovina to solve the simplest of the 14 points first. According to him, this is the easiest way for the authorities in Sarajevo and Brussels to demonstrate their sincere desire for progress.
Golob also said that a strategic discussion is underway within the EU on the best way to connect the union with its neighbors. One of the possible scenarios, which is also supported by Slovenia, is the phased expansion scenario. According to him, this means that the country would have concrete benefits already during the process of European integration, even before joining the EU, especially in the field of education, youth and economic development.
“Ambition in the adoption of reforms is important, because every adopted reform opens the way for a concrete agreement to be reached with the EU before membership, from which the inhabitants of this country can then benefit directly,” he explained.
According to Golob, an important change also took place in Slovenian foreign policy, which now strictly follows the principle of solidarity between nations in order to achieve political stability in the world.
“Only if we have political stability will we be able to talk about economic development and the well-being of all people,” he said. “There is no hidden pressure, we are driven by the desire for the progress of the entire region, because Slovenia also prospers with this,” he added.
An additional million euros for aid to Bosnia and Herzegovina
He explained that the Slovenian government reserved an additional million euros in the budget for technical assistance to Bosnia and Herzegovina. “With them, they will support the first activities in the field of state statistics and the prosecution of international crime. The Slovenian police have excellent relations with the BiH police. We would also like to raise this cooperation to the level of harmonizing legislation,” he stated.
Borjana Krišto: We are already taking certain steps towards reforms
Krištova also confirmed the cooperation between the two countries in the area of reforms. She announced the signing of an agreement on the provision of professional and technical assistance to Bosnia and Herzegovina on its European path and pointed out that the Council of Ministers of Bosnia and Herzegovina had already implemented some reforms.
“The steps and focus of the Council of Ministers are precisely on European reforms, and the Council of Ministers has already taken certain steps when it comes to the issue of public administration reform, the internal market, competitiveness, infrastructure projects and more,” she stated.
She emphasized that the Council of Ministers of Bosnia and Herzegovina must also pay special attention to internal political dialogue, given that Bosnia and Herzegovina is a country of three constituent nations and other citizens living in it according to the constitution. “Our obligation is to make limited changes to the Constitution of BiH and reform the electoral legislation on the principles of constitutional equality of all three constituent nations and other citizens living in BiH,” she also said.
Krištova and Golob also talked about strengthening economic cooperation between the two countries, where the prime minister sees opportunities especially in the field of renewable energy sources. “BiH has tremendous potential in terms of renewable energy sources, in which we and our Slovenian investors also want to invest large investment funds in the future,” he stated.
Krištova emphasized that the focus of the BiH Council of Ministers is also regional cooperation with the maintenance and strengthening of good neighborly relations. She reiterated that BiH has traditionally had good relations with Slovenia in all segments of life and that Slovenia is also among the three largest foreign investors in BiH.
On his first official bilateral visit abroad, Golob will also meet representatives of both houses of the BiH Parliament and members of the BiH Presidency in Sarajevo. Among other things, he will discuss with the interlocutors bilateral relations and possibilities for their upgrading.
Relations between Slovenia and BiH are traditionally friendly. Due to the changed geopolitical situation, Slovenia is one of the biggest advocates of BiH’s fast path to the EU, Boštjan Anžin reported for Radio Slovenija.
Bosnia and Herzegovina is otherwise the largest individual recipient of Slovenian development aid and an important economic partner of Slovenia. In January, the foreign minister already visited Bosnia and Herzegovina Tanja Fajon.
The last Slovenian prime minister who was on an official visit to Bosnia and Herzegovina was in 2017 Miro Cerarand he was preceded by the then prime minister on an official visit to Sarajevo in 2010 Borut Pahor.
The Workers’ Advisory Center draws attention to open questions
In the light of the Prime Minister’s statement in Sarajevo that Slovenia wants to be not only a friendly country to Bosnia and Herzegovina, but also its biggest ally, the leader Goran Lukić Workers’ Consultancy in an open letter, he asks if Slovenia is real “greatest ally” of BiH.
It is still valid on the day he is visiting “agreement on the employment of BiH citizens in Slovenia, binding them to employers in the first year”it is still on “provision of the law on foreigners, which will practically break up families from BiH from April 27”but the suspension of the recognition of higher education diplomas from Bosnia and Herzegovina is still valid, which means that their holders “turning into potential fraudsters”they emphasize in the Workers’ Consultancy.
At the same time, they ask the prime minister when he will sign the amendments to the agreement on employment between the Slovenian government and the Council of Ministers of BiH on the employment of citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina in Slovenia, which will exclude from it the provision that there must be “for the first year of employment, a migrant worker employed by the employer who submitted the application for the permit, or by his legal successor”.They also remind that the Ministry of Labor already announced last July that there are activities for this “in full swing, and that they will be adopted in a very short time”.
They also ask him how he will explain to the BiH representatives that they will be in Slovenia “starting to break up families from Bosnia and Herzegovina on April 27”. According to the opinion of the Workers’ Advisory Council, this will happen because the government left in the Aliens Act the condition of knowledge of the Slovenian language at the A1 level for adult family members when extending a residence permit on the basis of family reunification.
This condition, according to them, means that they will be family members “merger holder” had to know the language already at the first extension of the residence permit, which can be practical after a few months of stay in Slovenia. At the same time, the prime minister is asked what will happen if the spouse does not fulfill the condition, given that the couple has a minor child.
They are also interested in when the national information center for the recognition of qualifications ENIC-NARIC will once again initiate the procedures for resolving individual applications for the evaluation of higher education from BiH.
In fact, the Center already announced in October of last year that they had stopped processing these applications until further notice due to “missing, unclear and inconsistent information regarding the accreditation of higher education institutions and study programs in Bosnia and Herzegovina”.