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José Manuel Durão Barroso

President of the European Commission

Statement by President Barroso following his meeting with Mr Bakir Izetbegovic, Chairman of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina

Press point

Brussels, 21 March 2012

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is a pleasure to welcome the Chairman of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Mr Izetbegović, to Brussels. I had already met him in Sarajevo. It was a pleasure to meet him today in his capacity as Chairman of the Presidency.

We had an open and constructive meeting where we discussed Bosnia and Herzegovina's European future.

I have welcomed a number of recent positive developments in Bosnia and Herzegovina, including the adoption of the State aid law and the census law which are crucial steps for progress on the country's European integration path.

I also welcomed the agreement on the Global Fiscal Framework which is crucial for sound fiscal management.

Despite the good progress that has been made in some areas, further work needs to be done so that Bosnia can realize its European perspective.

I underlined in particular that a credible effort in bringing the country's Constitution into compliance with the European Convention on Human Rights is essential for our Stabilisation and Association Agreement to enter into force.

I expect progress regarding the implementation of the Sejdić-Finci ruling of the European Court of Human Rights. That has not yet been possible, but Mr Izetbegović just told me how he sees the situation and I feel encouraged, and I really want to encourage Bosnia and Herzegovina to commit to this path. As you know the European Union is built on a culture of dialogue and compromise. Political responsibility and readiness to find commonly agreed solutions are crucial in order for Bosnia and Herzegovina to achieve further progress in the European integration process.

There have been many recent positive developments in the region: the signature of the accession treaty with Croatia which will become our 28th member state in July next year; the recent granting of candidate status to Serbia, and the announcement of a feasibility study on contractual relations between the EU and Kosovo. So the region is on the move, and we also want to see Bosnia and Herzegovina taking the necessary steps to achieve its European future.

As I said in my visit to Bosnia and Herzegovina last April: "Bosnia is not alone." And Bosnia should not remain alone. Our commitment in the country's journey to the European Union is clear and firm.

Today, on behalf of the European Commission, I reaffirmed to the Chairman of the Presidency our commitment to Bosnia and Herzegovina's European future. You are European citizens, you are members of our community, you are Europeans and so we expect Bosnia and Herzegovina to make these steps further.

But we also expect Bosnia and Herzegovina's political leaders to do their part. The European future of Bosnia and Herzegovina rests to large extent in their hands. It is their responsibility as well. So, after this positive meeting I am more confident. Let's hope that we can see concrete progress in the European path of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

I thank you, Mr. Chairman, for coming to Brussels so soon after your designation as the current Chairman in office of Bosnia and Herzegovina. I see that also as an additional signal of your commitment to the European integration of your country.

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