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SARAJEVO – BiH and the European Commission initialled the Stabilisation and Association Agreement yesterday.

European Commissioner for Enlargement, Olli Rehn confirmed that signing of this Agreement would ensue after the authorities of BiH implement the Action Plan for Police Reform, ensure the progress in the Reform of the Public RTV System, Public Administration and ensure the full cooperation with the Hague Tribunal.

"The Agreement we signed today brings concrete benefits to the BiH citizens. It provides for the establishment of the free trade zone, it gives security to potential investors. It represents the gate for acquirement of the candidate status, if it is properly implemented", said Rehn.

Nikola Špirić, the Chairman of the Council of Ministers of BiH in resignation, said that the basis for the future state policy of BiH must be the implementation of the priorities from the European Partnership.

"Today is a good day for BiH. We are aware of our first tasks, i.e. the Police Reform, the Reform of the Public RTV System, Public Administration, the full cooperation with the Hague and economic reforms. We must not miss this historic chance, because if we do, the past would keep us far from the future", Špirić pointed out.

Miroslav Lajčak, High Representative of the International Community and Special Representative of the EU for BiH, relayed the message by Xavier Solana.

"Initialling the Agreement between BiH and the EC has an great symbolic value, because it comes after months of blocking and crisis. BiH Authorities have yet much more to do, but this is confirmation of their determination to endure on the way to the EU. I invite them to, without delay, fulfil the remaining conditions for signing of this Agreement", was a relay of Xavier Solana’s message by Lajčak.

Besides the Stabilisation and Association Agreement, Nikola Špirić and Olli Rehn initialled also the Transient Agreement between BiH and the EU. Transient Agreements are trade provisions of the agreements on association and stabilisation, which will be in force until the end of ratification of this agreement in parliaments of 27 member countries of the EU.

Big Step Forward for BiH

Austrian Minister for European and Foreign Affairs, Ursula Plasnik, commended BiH for initialling the Stabilisation and Association Agreement with the EU.

"Now, the EU concluded the agreement with all the states in the Balkans. That is a decisive progress in a process of convergence of this region towards the European standards. BiH, on its way to Europe, again found the connection to the region", said Plasnik.

Ambassador of Great Britain in BiH, Mathew Rycroft welcomed the initialling, and said that that was a big step forward for BiH and its citizens and that he is glad that BiH can now continue its way towards Europe.

Dnevni Avaz: Opened door to the EU

Stabilisation and Association Agreement will bring benefit in the first place to the citizens of BiH, said Olli Rehn. This is the most significant day since Dayton, said Špirić.

Bosnia and Herzegovina and the European Union initialled yesterday the Stabilization and Association Agreement (SAA), which opened the process of establishing contractual relationship between the EU and BiH and big step has been made on the road to full membership in the EU.

Precondition for success

Candidate Status already in 2008?

At the press conference, Rehn, as he said, ''divulged a secret'' that he collects pens, and that the one he used to initial the Agreement would take special place in his collection.
On the question of "Avaz" journalist to comment the possibility that BiH, as soon as the next year, might request the candidate status, Rehn did not dismiss such plan as unrealistic.
''The most important thing is that we go step by step. At this moment there are conditions for initialling and we did that, we go further on toward signing'' said Rehn.

Resigning Prime Minister Špirić pointed out that yesterday's day is the most significant for BiH since signing of the Dayton Agreement.

''BiH waited for this moment for a long time and because of that, our joy is even bigger. From tomorrow we start the full social transformation of BiH, which is a precondition of its every success, and full application and compliance with the spirit of the SAA will significantly help us in that process'', said Špirić.

Rehn stressed that Stabilisation and Association Agreement will bring benefit in the first place to the citizens of BiH, because the conditions for trade will improve, economic conditions i and cooperation with all the member countries of the EU.

In the name of Xavier Solana, the attendees were addressed by the High Representative Miroslav Lajčak, and he congratulated the representatives of the authority of BiH and the citizens.