Austria's Chancellor Calls for a Clear Perspective for Bosnia at the EU-Western Balkans Summit

PeoplePoliticians ♦ Published: June 27, 2022; 12:07 ♦ (Vindobona)

Last week at the European Council and the EU-Western Balkans Summit, the Federal Chancellor of Austria, Karl Nehammer, demanded that the countries of the Western Balkans be offered fair prospects of potential EU accession. Among other things, he made it clear that accession negotiations for Bosnia would be possible as soon as it had fulfilled the reform points set by the EU.

Federal Chancellor Nehammer in discussion at the European Council. / Picture: © Bundeskanzleramt (BKA) / Dragan Tatic

At the European Council and EU-Western Balkans Summit in Brussels, intensive consultations on the EU accession process were held in recent days. On this occasion, Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer, who was present in Brussels, demanded that Bosnia-Herzegovina be given a European perspective.

"Bosnia-Herzegovina could get official EU candidate status this year if it implements important electoral and constitutional reforms. This country has succeeded in coming back into focus," emphasised Federal Chancellor Karl Nehammer at the European Council in Brussels.

"If the earlier demand of 14 reform points to be worked through is fulfilled, EU accession negotiations are also possible. It was important to give Bosnia a perspective. The European Commission was asked by the EU summit to speed up the process for candidate country status," the Austrian head of government noted after hours of intensive consultations.

"Not only in my country, but also in Germany and France, there has been a change of mood regarding Ukraine compared to the initial scepticism. The EU Commission's report has shown that Ukraine and Moldova are ready for it," Karl Nehammer explained, pointing out that candidate country status does not yet mean accession negotiations. "It is important to convey security to the Austrian population. Ukraine's candidate status does not mean being dragged into war," he said.

The Western Balkans as a political partner for Austria

The prospects of accession were also at the centre of discussions between EU leaders and the states concerned at the Western Balkans Summit before that.

"We must not apply double standards when it comes to the EU accession process," said Federal Chancellor Karl Nehammer. In the run-up to the official EU summit, the 27 EU heads of state and government met with their counterparts from the 6 Western Balkan states - Serbia, Montenegro, Northern Macedonia, Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Kosovo.

Here, Chancellor Nehammer called for "the same rules for all", saying this was "an imperative of fairness and a question of credibility". The rapprochement of the Western Balkans to the EU was in Austria's "very own interest" due to the close relations. Austria recently demanded that not only Ukraine but also Bosnia-Herzegovina be granted the status of a candidate country.

On the margins of the Western Balkans Summit, Chancellor Nehammer also met with the Presidents of Kosovo, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Montenegro and Serbia for bilateral talks.

Federal Chancellery of Austria