bosnia-herzegovina’s ascension to the eu

Monday 21 December, 2009

I attended this event BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA: ON THE PATH TO EUROPEAN UNION featuring Eldin Kajevic, Consul General of Bosnia and Herzegovina (BH) in Chicago & hosted by the Niagara Foundation.  BH has a population of 4.4M & is 1/3 the size of IL.  BH is part of the Adriatic Charter of NATO & is a UN Security Council member.  They are drafting a new constitution which will replace the peace agreement of 1994.  Since starting this process, reform has stopped.  There are 3 obstacles which stand in the way of BH ascending to the European Union:\

  1. the Dayton Peace Accords-these stopped the bloodshed, but did not leave a viable administrative solution.  BH has 3 presidents, 1 for each ethnicity, Bosnian, Croat, & Serb.  Despite this, the representative to the EU is the most important position in the country.  The government consumes 50% of the country’s GDP.
  2. BH’s ethnic composition-has changed & solidified since 1991.  There are now clearer majorities in many regions, which have accentuated the walls as ethnic dividers.  1/3 of ethnic intermarriages are not recognized.  There are still quotas for jobs by ethnicity.
  3. EU’s inconsistent approach-originally the EU set down stipulations for ascension, but now identifies the problems & directs locals to solve them themselves.  This has led to legislative stalemates & administrative catharsis.

BH has a common goal:  economic progress with a growth rate of 5.5%.  The currency is pegged to the Euro & bonds are rated B+ by S&P & B2 by Moody’s.  BH is a part of the Central European Free Trade Agreement.  In Sarajevo, you can find a church, mosque, & synagogue within 4 blocks of 1 another.  They are breaking down walls.


  • The Dayton Peace Accords worked until 2006 when BH started work on a new constitution, but has been a problem since then.
  • Displaced refugees have gone all over the world, to North America, Western Europe, & other countries in Southeastern Europe.
  • Other nearby countries have offered automatic citizenship in their countries to ethnic Serbs & Croats, which creates a problem in BH because those other countries have better functioning constitutions than in BH.
  • Technically, the EU has listed specific criteria to ascend to the EU, but the reality is the current deadlock has not allowed BH to realistically address them.

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