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Sarajevo confident of visa-free travel deal in December

Bosnia is hopeful the EU will take a decision this December to exempt Bosnian citizens from needing a visa to enter the EU, the country’s deputy foreign minister has said. Speaking at Georgetown University in Washington DC, on 17 September, Ana Trisic-Babic said that while the formal decision by the European Parliament and EU Council of Ministers still had to be taken, she had learned informally that the visa waiver was likely to come soon. It will be a great relief to the country, which has fallen behind its Balkan neighbours in the race to join the EU due to disagreements between its constituent Bosniak, Serb and Croat communities over how the state should function. Trisic-Babic noted that only 700,000 out of Bosnia’s four million citizens relied solely on their Bosnian passports. Others manage to travel visa-free to the EU by using passports from Serbia, Croatia or other countries that are visa exempt.

“There is no alternative to us than joining the EU,” she stressed. Noting how preoccupied the EU has been with internal, constitutional issues, such as forging a common foreign policy, she suggested “we have been left behind a little” and was looking to the US once more for its support. She claimed “the EU is not a carrot anymore for us to do reforms because it is so far away”. Failure to reform its ethnically-based police force has been a notable obstacle hindering Bosnia’s path to the EU. Commenting on Turkey’s new involvement in Bosnia, she said Bosnians were split on this, with Muslim Bosniaks interested but Christian communities irritated. On Kosovo, she said Bosnia would not recognise its independence “for a long time” and would follow whatever Serbia and Kosovo agreed.