Bosnia-Herzegovina should receive similar treatment as Ukraine and Moldova for receiving EU candidate status before prerequisites had been fulfilled, according to Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer.
Austria has historically considered itself a strong ally of the Western Balkans, most of which are EU candidates, although their accession progress has largely been stalled. Bosnia-Herzegovina is one of the last two countries in the six-country region that has not received EU candidate status yet.
Ukraine’s candidate status will be granted before the fulfilment of EU criteria, but that “must also apply to other candidate countries in the Western Balkans, such as Bosnia-Herzegovina,” said Nehammer explaining Austria’s position to the parliamentary EU committee on Wednesday.
There is also a need for “clear signals” for Northern Macedonia and Albania. Due to its historical past and the large diaspora, Austria bears a special responsibility for the region, he told lawmakers.
Minister for Europe, the conservative Karoline Edtstadler, supported his statements. “It is incomprehensible that Bosnia and Herzegovina should be denied candidate country status,” she highlighted.
The government’s position has the support of the largest opposition party, the social democrat SPÖ.
Austria is forming a three-way bloc alongside Croatia and Slovenia on the issue of Bosnia-Herzegovina ahead of the EU leaders meeting in Brussels on Thursday (June 23).