News archive - "Friendship group for BiH" in European Parliament started its work

The Friendship Group for BiH in the European Parliament started its work in Brussels on Tuesday November 8. 2011. This is an informal parliamentary group that brings together members of all political clubs in the European Parliament to strengthen parliamentary dialogue with BiH and better promotion of European path of Bosnia and Herzegovina in Brussels.

“The idea to form this group came from European parliamentarians, who in this way wanted to support their BiH counterparts. FYR of Macedonia, Serbia and Croatia have already had the opportunity to be convinced of the usefulness of such groups, and now they BiH will join them, for the first time since it has entered the Stabilization and Association process, said Amer Kapetanovic, the Head of the Department for European Union Cooperation in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.  

The official beginning of the friendship group’s work, in addition to European parliamentarians, was also attended by Commissioner for Enlargement Stefan Fuele, BiH Foreign Minister Sven Alkalaj, and 12 members of the state and entity parliaments in BiH.
Departure of BiH parliamentarians for Brussels was enabled by an NGO, Foreign Policy Initiative in BiH, which in the last eighteen months has actively worked with the BiH parliamentarians to clarify the role of European and national parliaments in the EU after the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon. “This is in some way a crown of one and half-year process that we started and brought it to an end thanks to the financial support of the British Embassy in BiH. We have showed in a very practical way how it is possible to achieve synergy between the government and NGO sector for public benefit, told Fena Denisa Sarajlic-Maglic, director of Foreign Policy Initiative in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Kapetanovic confirms successful cooperation of Ministry of Foreign Affairs, FPI BiH and the European Parliament on the project. “The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has since the beginning supported this project of FPI, as well as the very initiative for the establishment of the Group, because we appreciate important contribution to strengthening the role of the Parliament of BiH in the process of EU integration,” he added.

This initiative, according to Kapetanovic, illustrates that despite the overall political stalemate in Bosnia, it is still worth while to work on unfreezing the European path of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The Group of friends in the EP is a useful platform that is available to BiH for various forms of activities, from cultural promotion to political and economic dialogue. 

In his speech, the Commisioner Füle stated:

"Straight after the Structured Dialogue this week, we are launching on the 14 and 15 November High-Level Coordination Meetings on the Instrument of Pre-Accession Assistance (IPA) for 2012, and multi-beneficiary meetings in order to pre-empt the problems experienced this year, which nearly lost Bosnia and Herzegovina 100 million €. Right afterwards, there will be a meeting to start the Programming exercise for IPA 2012-2013. This experience with the IPA was important lesson and we would like to help you to create a mechanism to avoid such thing to happen in the future.

We are using the experience gathered with the Structured Dialogue to reinforce the already existing subcommittees of Stabilisation and Association Process.

On 15 November, there will be subcommittee meetings on energy and on transport. The day after, the Commission will have meetings with the stakeholders of the TRANSCO electricity company to help solve problems there. That same afternoon, there will be high-level talks on the important transport link Corridor V.c. We are thinking of using the IPA 2012 funds for corridor V.c. design, as building of this corridor will mean not only an investment, but also direct employment. And it is not only DG Enlargement and my portfolio but more and more also other colleagues from the European Commission who are getting involved.

But for all we do, we can only help Bosnia and Herzegovina to help itself. Within the country there needs to be a European Consensus.

  • A consensus to work together
  • A consensus which goes above entity and party politics,
  • A consensus to improve the lives of your citizens and to provide them and their children with a better future.

Political representatives have demonstrated that when there is a will, there is a way. Difficult reforms were agreed upon, which lead to visa free travel in the Schengen area for the citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Recently, there have been some positive developments on some requirements: the State Aid Law was adopted by the Council of Ministers. A Joint Interim Committee of the Bosnia and Herzegovina Parliamentary Assembly for implementation of the Sejdic-Finci ruling was established. Bosnia and Herzegovina now needs to build on these developments.

As parliamentarians, it is your task to do that. You have a vital role to play in developing a shared vision for the future of the country, in the work which you carry out inside your parliaments, but also in reaching out to your citizens. It is important to explain the benefits of European integration, and more importantly what needs to be done to deliver on the EU aspirations.

We should use our time here together to take the necessary steps to moving Bosnia and Herzegovina into the European era, Stefan Füle concluded.

Source: fena; Reference:  SPEECH/11/730   

Geographical focus
  • Bosnia and Herzegovina

Entry created by Ines Marinkovic on November 9, 2011
Modified on November 9, 2011