The European Union has officially accepted Bosnia-Herzegovina as a candidate country. The heads of state and government of the 27 EU countries agreed on this at a summit in Brussels, as was officially announced. The reason for the candidate status is also the concern that the Balkan country with around 3.3 million inhabitants could otherwise orient itself towards Russia or China. Bosnia-Herzegovina has been waiting for EU membership for many years.
In June, following a Commission recommendation, the EU states officially named Ukraine and Moldova as candidates. However, accession negotiations should not begin until certain reforms have been completed. This should now also apply to Bosnia-Herzegovina. States like Austria in particular had insisted on going this route as well.
Bosnia-Herzegovina was given the prospect of accession as early as 2003 and officially submitted an application for membership in 2016. In 2019, however, it was decided that it should only be given candidate status once 14 reform requirements have been met. The EU Commission stressed that this was crucial for the start of the actual accession negotiations.
Of the six Western Balkan countries, only the Republic of Kosovo is now not a candidate for accession. The country formally applied for membership this week. For the youngest state in Europe, it was a rather symbolic act: EU membership is currently not within reach for the country, which has been independent since 2008. The main obstacle is that five EU countries - Spain, Romania, Slovakia, Greece and Cyprus - do not recognize Kosovo.
The country, which is now almost exclusively inhabited by Albanians, used to belong to Yugoslavia or Serbia. After repression by the Serbian security forces against the Albanian civilian population, NATO bombed targets in what was then the rest of Yugoslavia (Serbia and Montenegro) in 1999. The Serbian security forces and state organs left Kosovo. The UN mission UNMIK took over the administration and the creation of Kosovan institutions.
In February 2008, the Kosovar parliament declared independence. More than 100 countries, including Germany, but not Russia, China, Serbia and the five EU countries recognized the new state. To this day, Serbia has not renounced its claim to the territory of Kosovo. At the same time, it repeatedly stirs up tensions in the northern part of the country, which is predominantly inhabited by ethnic Serbs.