Deputy state coordinator prof. Ferid Otajagić, Ph.D., and Vedrana Faladžić, senior associate for public relations, participated in the conference “EU Integration Forum 2023” organized by Transparency International with the support of the Embassy of the Kingdom of Sweden in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The EU’s renewed interest in the enlargement process for the countries of the Western Balkans should serve as an incentive to speed up essential reforms, primarily in the field of democratization and strengthening the rule of law, it was said at the “EU Integration Forum” conference, which was held today in Sarajevo and which was organized by Transparency International in BiH.
Instead of the previous declarative commitment to integration, the leaders of the countries of the region should, as it was said, initiate a whole series of brave but necessary steps in order to achieve stronger legal, political, economic and developmental integration.
“It is time for expansion, but it is up to Bosnia and Herzegovina to take the necessary steps and initiate reforms towards further integration with the European Union,” said Adebayo Babajide, Deputy Head of the Delegation of the European Union to Bosnia and Herzegovina at the opening of the conference.
During the panel discussions, the participants stated that BiH is experiencing a constant deterioration in numerous areas, such as the rule of law and corruption, which has become almost unpunishable due to the captivity of the judiciary and other institutions.
“At the same time, authoritarian trends are increasingly present in the country through laws that violate basic human rights and freedoms, which is most visible in the Republika Srpska, where defamation has been returned to the criminal code with announcements of even more rigorous laws that will suppress the work of the media, non-governmental organizations and individuals which are not under the control of the authorities. ‘’All this indicates that Bosnia and Herzegovina is in a state of institutional captivity and at the limit of basic functionality, which is why the ability to respond to the challenges of the negotiation process with the EU is called into question”, it was pointed out during the meeting, said Transparency International.
“The existing dysfunctional management structure in BiH will hardly be able to respond to the challenges of the negotiation process”, said the chairman of the TIBiH Board of Directors Srđan Blagovčanin at the opening of the conference, adding that BiH still does not have an adopted integration program, which shows that the existing coordination mechanism is completely dysfunctional.
The conference also dealt with the issue of the challenges facing the EU itself, which is going through the longest period since not a single new member was accepted and which participants agreed that it is ripe for reforms in terms of the internal functioning model in order to create a sufficiently attractive space for political and the economic integration of neighboring countries such as the countries of the Western Balkans.
The conference, organized by Transparency International in BiH with the support of the Kingdom of Sweden, was attended by Adebayo Babajide, Deputy Head of the Delegation of the European Union in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Birgitta Jansson, representative of the Swedish Embassy in BiH, Srđan Blagovčanin, Chairman of the TIBiH Board of Directors, and regional experts from the field of rule of law, EU integration, representatives of domestic institutions and international organizations, civil society organizations, the academic community and the media.