Toudic: The most worrying are the blockades in BiH that hinder the development of the state

Toudic: The most worrying are the blockades in BiH that hinder the development of the state

SARAJEVO, February 20 (FENA) – The Republic of France took over the presidency of the Council of the European Union on January 1, 2022, and the highest officials of that country announced great engagement when it comes to the European perspective of the Western Balkans.

French Ambassador to Bosnia and Herzegovina Christine Toudic, spoke in an interview with FENA, about the six-month presidency’s plans, stressing that “Recovery, Strength and Affiliation” have been chosen as the slogan.

“This word affiliation is especially important because it really refers to the Western Balkans. President Emmanuel Macron has never hidden his support for the integration of the Western Balkan countries into the European Union. After all, he himself proposed a new methodology so that these perspectives for joining would be less bureaucratic, more credible, more visible and more binding,” she said.

In his speech on January 19 in the European Parliament, Macron reminded how much the Western Balkans have their place in Europe as a whole, because it is both geographically and culturally obvious and there is no doubt about that, says the ambassador.

“The idea is to continue to encourage the countries of the Western Balkans and, of course, Bosnia and Herzegovina to progress on the reform path because it is in fact a service for a service. We do not oppose integration, we have never done that, but the countries of the Western Balkans should also respect their obligations and implement reforms,” Toudic added.

She explains that Macron actually wanted to say that the countries of the Western Balkans need to help them so that they too can help those countries.

The Ambassador does not shy from the fact that they are worried about the current political situation because it is worse than in previous years, and they are especially worried because this is harmful to citizens, because it hinders economic development and implementation of necessary reforms, and at the same time prevents BiH from progressing on the path to the European Union.

“As for the security situation, according to the reports I receive from the EUFOR, from our soldiers whose base is in Sarajevo and the rest of the country, the security situation itself is not worrying. What is worrying are all the blockades that hinder the development of the state. That is what bothers us the most,” she underlined.

In an interview with FENA, the French ambassador also referred to the current election reforms, which she said they unconditionally support, and especially want the reforms to produce fair representation of all components in Bosnia and Herzegovina, i.e. to achieve true equality among all without discrimination.

She is of the opinion that this is an essential reform for the European perspective of Bosnia and Herzegovina, because everyone is asking for Bosnia and Herzegovina to progress towards the European Union, and it is this reform that brings BiH closer to meeting European criteria.

“Now, there is little time left because the elections should be held in October and that reform should be completed soon. We believe that a compromise is needed on all sides, really on all sides, because that is what is necessary,” said Ambassador Toudic.

France does not offer any concrete model when it comes to electoral reform, but it is in favor of a solution or a model that reflects European achievements, to be in line with European principles.

“If these negotiations, unfortunately, do not bear fruit, we would like the elections to be held in a much more integrative context than the previous ones, and we insist on an integrative package which is another aspect of the reform,” she explained.

Toudic emphasized that the voice of France is constantly heard and that is what French Foreign Minister Jean Yves le Drian really insisted on žin terms of the importance of resolving the issue of progress towards the EU, which he set among his three priorities during the French presidency of the European Union.

She announced that a conference would be organized within the French presidency of the European Union, which should be a means to get closer to all sides and show that not only Bosnia and Herzegovina in the Western Balkans has problems but the whole region has its unresolved issues.

The idea of ​​the conference is to be something like the Paris Peace Forum, its form has not been determined yet, but, the ambassador says, it will try to bring together all foreign participants, civil society, companies, heads of state and governments in order to have a constructive dialogue to improve things.

“The idea is to prepare the European Summit on the Western Balkans, which will be organized during the Czech presidency of the European Union, the future presiding country, but we will try to work especially on youth issues, security issues, things that are rarely talked about but are very important,” said Toudic.

Toudic concluded in an interview with FENA that young people are the future and they really need to be involved in all processes and talks on important issues.