EU gives Bosnia 440 mln euros in pre-accession aid

The European Commission and Bosnia signed a deal on Wednesday giving Bosnia 440 million euros ($647.6 million) worth of assistance needed to proceed with reforms on its path towards European Union membership.

EU gives Bosnia 440 mln euros in pre-accession aid
The five-year deal enables the Commission and the Balkan country to conclude financial arrangements for annual assistance programmes. It was approved after Bosnia initialled the Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA) last December.

"We believe this agreement is a key sign of confidence and support to the EU future of this country," said Pierre Mirel, the head of the Commission's Western Balkans directorate.

Bosnia, along with neighbouring Serbia, are the only countries in the region that have not signed the SAA, the first rung on the ladder to eventual membership of the EU.

Mirel said the new assistance instrument to countries that are potential candidates will assess each of them according to their needs and evolution, monitoring institution building, cross-border cooperation, regional development and other.

"The new assistance the European Union is providing is not in the form of credits but in the form of grants," he said.

The bloc has so far provided 1.9 billion euros in assistance to Bosnia to help reconstruction, return of refugees and reforms after the 1992-95 war between Bosnian Serbs, Muslims and Croats.

The head of Bosnia's EU Integration Directorate Osman Topcagic said Bosnia could sign the SAA by the end of April if parliament passed a key EU condition -- laws unifying the police forces of Bosnia's two autonomous regions, the Serb Republic and the Muslim-Croat federation.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 21 Şubat 2008, 11:55