Pahor urges support for Bosnia’s EU candidate status

Riga – President Borut Pahor urged the leaders of Three Seas EU countries to endorse Slovenia’s proposal at the EU summit later this week to give Bosnia-Herzegovina the status of EU candidate country, as he addressed the summit of the Three Seas initiative in Latvia on Monday.

The leaders discussed the Western Balkans’ EU future and the region’s position in the current European political and security architecture, Pahor’s office said.

Pahor reiterated the importance of the EU’s prompt expansion to the Western Balkans, saying he is convinced that the candidate status will strengthen the pro-European forces in Bosnia and accelerate the pace with which the country adjusts to EU standards.

“It seems to me that this is one of the last chances for the EU to tell Bosnia-Herzegovina, of its own political accord, that it believes in its European perspective, without setting any conditions on this decision. This is a strong signal of faith and confidence in Bosnia’s political strength,” he said.

Some leaders explicitly supported Slovenia’s proposal, including Polish President Andrzej Duda, while nobody openly disagreed with it, which gives hope the necessary consensus could be reached for the EU summit to endorse it.

“With only a short time to go before EU leaders meet at the end of the week, Bosnia has been waiting for the first signal from the EU on its European path for almost 20 years. Although my letter comes late, leaders know how important it is to seize the moment. I hope the EU will not miss this great opportunity.”

Pahor also said as he spoke on the leaders’ panel that the Three Seas initiative – bringing together 12 countries around the Adriatic, Baltic and Black seas – was well on its way to implement its strategic goal – better connections between the northern and south-eastern parts of the EU.

However, he believes this area’s connections with the western part of the EU should also be improved alongside connections with the EU’s eastern and south-eastern neighbours. He thus welcomed the work of the Three Seas Fund and urged environment-friendly infrastructure projects.

The summit largely focussed on the war in Ukraine and ways of cooperating with the country, with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky addressing the leaders via video link. The summit adopted a joint declaration which features a decision to invite Ukraine to become a partner of the initiative.

Pahor had several bilateral meetings on the sidelines of the summit, including with new Hungarian President Katalin Novak, whom he invited to visit Slovenia.

They confirmed the friendly bilateral relations, and Pahor is convinced that Slovenia and Hungary will continue to engage in regular and constructive dialogue.

The Three Seas brings together Austria, Bulgaria, Czechia, Estonia, Croatia, Latvia, Lithuania, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia. Its permanent partners are the US, Germany and the European Commission.

The initiative was first presented on the sidelines of the UN session in September 2015 in New York. Summits at the level of presidents have been held since 2016, with the current one being the 7th. Pahor has attended all of them. He was invited to the Riga summit by Latvian President Egils Levits.