Academic journal article Journal of Comparative Politics

Assessing the European Criteria in Bosnia and Herzegovina: A Litmus Test for the European Union

Academic journal article Journal of Comparative Politics

Assessing the European Criteria in Bosnia and Herzegovina: A Litmus Test for the European Union

Article excerpt

So far many scholarly analyses were released and fierce academic debates pursued in which the European Union member states are criticized for not speaking "with a single voice" with regards to its common and harmonized policies in international politics. Similarly, in this paper I analysed the European Union approach towards Bosnia and Herzegovina in terms of all-embracing Europeanization process of BiH from the perspective of the EU's capabilities to influence domestic policy-making process in the country. Although it is very difficult to find the most appropriate and feasible model in a multi-ethnic and multi-ethnic Bosnia the EU should have more harmonized and clear policy approach towards this country. We came to conclusion that the EU is deeply divided, incoherent, and weak in terms of its Europeanizing policies in BiH thus further deepening political impasse in the country. This also proves that to some extent the EU itself is responsible for long-lasting status quo in the country since it is today having a role of international player from which Bosnian ordinary citizens have quite high expectations. This is in fact seriously undermining the credibility of the EU since it could not so far assert and prove itself as an attractive and powerful actor that is capable of resolving cumbersome 'Bosnian complex story'.

1 THE BOSNIAN STANDARDS' for THE EU

Although today very often it can be read in newspapers and scholarly papers that Bosnia and Herzegovina is passing from the Dayton era to the Brussels era it is far from truth that the European Union has developed successful and useful policy instruments in the country. A recent statement delivered by Milorad Dodik, the populist leader of the most popular Bosnian Serb party - the Union of Independent Social Democrats (SNSD), in relation to appointment of Peter S0rensen as a new Head of EU Delegation to Bosnia and Herzegovina, that he has set measures and conditions in order to establish good cooperation with the European Union provide indicative picture of unclear and complex relations between Bosnia and Herzegovina (hereinafter, Bosnia or BiH) and the European Union. In fact, Dodik said that Sorensen will have a partner in Republika Srpska only if the solutions for Bosnian problems are not imposed from international community.2 Thus, even before the international official came to Bosnia Bosnian politics has prepared some standards and conditions to be respected and considered in his work with local politicians. This is quite a paradoxical situation since it is the EU which is setting the standards to be implemented rather than politicians from the potential candidate and candidate countries. In fact, he and, in other instances, a number of local politicians re-modify the European standards in line with their "Bosnian standards" built in particularistic ideological interests. As a result, such political positions and views the Bosnian politicians hold clearly display, more than anything else, a seriousness of the credibility crisis that the European Union member states are facing in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Put differently, the promise of European Union membership has not be "sufficient instrument" for the Bosnian politicians to make them respect the European values, norms and rules and work on their implementation into domestic policies. Although ruling political elites are from time to time making statements that their objective is the accession into the EU most of them are doing very little to make the country closer to Brussels. Furthermore, most of the ruling Bosnian politicians are still living in the past while the EU-related agenda should encourage them to look towards common and peaceful future. Such political constellations explicitly demonstrate deepness and seriousness in which Bosnian political sphere is confronted with since the very end of the war in Bosnia 1992-1995. Rather than focusing on issues related with the European integration and the well being of the ordinary citizens, politicians in Bosnia emphasize politics which appeal to emotions thus further increasing inter-ethnic polarization and disputes. …

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