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Zlatan Klokić: for Glas Srpske Our Opportunity to Leave the Past Behind


One should be realistic and say that BiH's candidate status is the result of geopolitical circumstances caused by the escalation of the conflict on the territory of Ukraine.

At the extraordinary NATO summit held in February this year, interest was expressed to assist the countries such as Georgia, Moldova, Ukraine, as well as BiH in democratic reforms, with a clear perspective of their accession to the European Union. Ukraine applied for membership on 28 February, and Moldova and Georgia on 3 March. The European Council expressly approved the candidate status for Ukraine and Moldova on 23 June this year. Due to all this, the decision to make BiH part of this package in a way comes as no surprise.

Zlatan Klokić, the still current minister of economic relations and regional cooperation of Srpska said this in an interview for Glas Srpske, stating that despite everything, this is certainly a significant political signal from the European Union to let Srpska and BiH know that they see us as ready and committed to meeting the membership criteria.

- Practically, this also means more money, i.e. more opportunities to use the pre-accession funds that reward the results of implemented reforms - says Klokić.

GLAS: How important is this for the country's image, better investment and tourism potential?

KLOKIĆ: It is important, and how. Regardless of the fact that only now we have a large task ahead, especially on opening the negotiations and implementing reforms. We should certainly take advantage of the current candidate status, however long it lasts. It brings a great potential for reforms and development, and I certainly see it as historic and an opportunity for progress. Naturally, it will also bring tourism benefit, and from now on investors will see us as a country with potential. This is an opportunity to no longer be seen as a country living in the past and only speaking about the past. And to show that the future certainly exists as an option.

GLAS: Will any special funds be available for applying?

KLOKIĆ: Not at the moment, because even when we were not a candidate country, we could use all pre-accession funds, together with the current IPA III. However, it is noteworthy that by obtaining the candidate status, we are one step closer to using the structural and cohesion funds. This will be possible when we achieve full EU membership. What we can do is strengthen the absorption capacities in Srpska, which is one of the main tasks of the Ministry of European Integration and International Cooperation.

GLAS: Many countries were waiting for 10 or 20 years to open the EU accession negotiations. How long could it take us, and what will it depend on?

KLOKIĆ: It is difficult to make any forecasts because the accession process itself is very complex and painstaking. Currently, out of the 14 key priorities, we have fulfilled three conditionally, six partially, and for five priorities there are still no conditions for fulfillment. After that, we should open the negotiations on first chapters. In this regard, experiences differed in the region, as Croatia needed 10 years for all chapters.

During that same time, Serbia managed to close only two.

In addition to a country's willingness to work on integrations, the political and geopolitical factors must be added, which only complicate further any forecast as to how long it will take BiH to become a full member. However, the post-election dynamics and agreements on the formation of new governments of Srpska and FBiH, and the Council of Ministers, instill a dose of optimism that the fulfillment of obligations on the European path will be approached more seriously. It should be emphasized that the reform process that the EU requires of BiH should not be an alibi for individuals who want to create a model of a new BiH. That is the biggest obstacle we can encounter, and the one we will not agree to at any cost.

GLAS: How would you rate past work of Bisera Turković, who almost privatized this ministry in the previous period?

KLOKIĆ: In briefest terms, her mandate can be described as scandalous. BiH diplomacy has not been in a worse position for a long time or seemed less serious on the international stage than during the three years she was serving as the minister of foreign affairs. I think that the public at large is aware that BiH diplomacy was marked by the minister's self-initiated and unconstitutional statements and actions, public debates with some ambassadors, activities directed against Srpska, its officials, and all the non-advocates of the SDA policy. Furthermore, we do not see any concrete positive result in diplomacy credited to Bisera Turković. From the new minister, I expect better cooperation and respect for the position of Srpska, which has a legitimate right to have its interests taken into consideration in conducting foreign policy.

Representation abroad

GLAS: How would you rate the operation of Srpska's representative offices abroad so far?

KLOKIĆ: Comments can often be heard that the public in Srpska is not adequately aware of the activities and results of some representative offices abroad. I could partly agree that their operation is not adequately promoted in the media, which is the result of the Ministry's strategic orientation to have the activities and promotion focus specifically on the country of the seat of the representative office and on the citizens of those countries. However, I believe that these offices fulfill their role and that their operation brings benefits for Srpska in terms of strengthening the ties with foreign countries, cooperating with the diaspora, promoting economic and tourism potentials, and advocating Srpska's interests and positions.

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