Brüssel, 21. November 2005 Press release

Plassnik: “Bosnia and Herzegovina on the road to EU membership”

21.11.2005

On the 10th anniversary of the signing of the Dayton Agreement

Brussels, 21 November 2005 - "Today’s decision puts Bosnia and Herzegovina on the road to membership of the European Union," said Foreign Minister Plassnik at the Council of Foreign Ministers in Brussels.

At their meeting, the Foreign Ministers of the EU Member States decided to start negotiations on a Stabilisation and Association Agreement with Bosnia and Herzegovina.

"On the tenth anniversary of the signing of the Dayton Agreement, which put an end to the three-year war, Bosnia is entering into a new phase in its history. I regard the start of negotiations as a great opportunity and at the same time as a mandate to continue the reform process with renewed energy," said Plassnik.

In spite of the progress achieved to date, continued the Foreign Minister, there were still numerous unresolved questions. Inefficient and cost-intensive administrative structures frequently caused delays and blockages in the reform process.

"We need a modern Bosnian state with functioning institutions and lean structures. The best way for the European Union to contribute is by offering a clear and concrete European perspective," said Plassnik.

"This perspective is also the basis for successful policy of reconciliation of the different ethnic groups. They are united in their desire for rapid rapprochement with the EU," added the Foreign Minister.

Plassnik mentioned the planned Balkan priority focus during the forthcoming Austrian EU Presidency, in which particular attention will also be paid to the relations between the European Union and Bosnia and Herzegovina.

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