Bosnia Herzegovina files formal application to join EU

President of the EU commission Federica Mogherini says official process has begun

Bosnia-Herzegovina has applied to join the EU, the President of the European Commission Federica Mogherini has said.

At an event in Brussels, diplomats indicated Sarajevo may not have met all the conditions required to submit an application.

Nonetheless, Ms Mogherini said the 28 EU states would now analyse the application, and she said it was good news for the bloc and for Bosnia, a former Yugoslav republic where a 1990s war killed 100,000 people.

"At a time when the Union is questioned from within, seeing that with our immediate neighbours there is such an energy and willingness to join and work hard to adapt their countries, society, economy, institutions, systems to the European standards, gives us the sense of responsibility we have also towards our European Union citizenship," she told journalists. 

Sarajevo said it will speed up the required reforms in expectation that the EU will grant the country candidate status in 2017.

President Dragan Covic submitted the application to Dutch Foreign Affairs Minister Bert Koenders in Brussels on Monday.

Bosnia knocked on the door in 2008 when it signed a Stabilisation and Association Agreement with the EU 13 years after the end of the bloody conflict that left the country ethnically divided.

Unsolved wartime quarrels hindered the necessary reforms and left the country lingering behind its Balkan neighbours.

Reuters and PA