Friday 26 November 2004 at 21:30 CET on Europe by Satellite

From Dayton to Brussels – Bosnia and Herzegovina on the way to Europe

On 2 December 2004, the European Union will take over command of a 7000-strong military operation from NATO. The new name of the peacekeeping mission is EUFOR/ALTHEA.

The EUFOR mission is the latest step in an increasing EU involvement in Bosnia. At the end of the war, a major EU assistance programme kicked into action. More than 2.5 billion euro were spent to rebuild homes, provide water and electricity, improve roads and public transport. Over time, the focus has switched from physical reconstruction to building a viable society based on the rule of law.

As the European integration agenda gradually replaces the Dayton agenda, the EU continues to strengthen its presence. All EU actors on the ground, including the European Commission Delegation, the EU Special Representative, the EU Police Mission, and now the EUFOR/Althea mission, pursue the same goal: to help BiH put itself firmly and irreversibly onto the path to the European Union.

Commentary Interviews

This is Sarajevo. No longer the battle scarred city of people's memories.

Nine years after the end of a bloody war, life in Bosnia and Herzegovina has taken a new turn.

The city offers a completely different picture from when it emerged from the conflict back in 1995.

At that time, a NATO-led peacekeeping force was sent to BiH Bosnia to enforce the peace agreement signed in Dayton. But that 60.000 strong Stabilisation Force – first IFOR then SFOR- has been reduced to just 7000 today. Proof of how much the country has changed.

Now a TV campaign currently being broadcast in Bosnia and Herzegovina explains that SFOR soldiers are switching badges changing badges .

The European Union is taking over command from NATO. The new name of the peacekeeping mission: EUFOR.

The message is clear – the stabilised Bosnia and Herzegovina is on the march to European integration.

Voxpops of Bosnians

`Many bad things would have been prevented if we all had joined EU after break up of ex Yugoslavia, that was the only way to avoid war`

`I think it is pretty much the same. I suppose they will just change the labels (logos) on their cars and the rest will remain same.`

`I think it is good thing. If we cannot do some things alone, let's have someone who will do it for us`

`Many bad things would have been prevented if we all had joined EU after break up of ex Yugoslavia, that was the only way to avoid war`

EUFOR is by far the biggest military operation undertaken by the EU under its new Security and Defence Policy.

Interview Javier Solana,
EU High Representative for Common Foreign and Security Policy

`The EU is cooperating with BiH, with government and people of Bosnia and Herzegovina practically in all domains, which I think is very good for us and very good for the people and authorities of BiH in order to realize the ambition that they have of getting closer to the EU.`

The main objective of EUFOR is to provide deterrence, and to make absolutely sure that hostilities will not flare up again. EUFOR will also help building local capacity.

Interview Major General David Leakey, EU Force Commander

`We are not here as a police force, but we can help reinforce the efforts of the police. We can create the conditions so that the police here in Bosnia can do their job more effectively. `

`We can lead them, we can encourage them. SFOR has been doing that, and what the difference is that EUFOR will do that more pro-actively, we have a bigger capability to do that, and we'll be operating in much closer coordination with the other EU actors here in Bosnia.`

The EUFOR mission is the latest step in an increasing EU involvement in Bosnia and Herzegovina. At the end of the war, a major EU assistance programme kicked into action. More than 2 . , 5 billion euro has been spent so fa r. Initially to rebuild homes, provide water and electricity, improve roads and public transport. Over time, the focus has switched from physical reconstruction to building a viable and modern society country based on the rule of law.

Interview Paddy Ashdown, EU Special Representative to Bosnia and Herzegovina

`The Dayton legacy was a legacy which left BiH with a complicated series of levels of government that amount to the fact that the Bosnian government now spends 65% of its citizens' money on government and only 35% on its citizens. `

`No State can survive like that. So the State must now think about how it improves its functionality, how it raises its level of governance to European standards. And that is going to be the great task for Bosnia-Herzegovina. And it is going to be the great task for the European institutions.`

In order for B iH osnia to move further on its path towards Europe, the country must function as a unified state. It needs strong institutions. A modern civil service. Not the weak state institutions of the past.

Interview Michael Humphreys, Head of European Commission Delegation in BiH

`As we move on, we are moving on to the in some ways more difficult areas of trying get ministries functioning effectively, having government structures at the different levels that instead of overlapping are mutually reinforcing each other`
A new Bosnian State Court is being built with EU funding. The highest judicial authority in the land, it will play an essential role in the fight against organised crime and corruption. The most serious cases will be heard here including those of war criminals.

Soundbite Hasan Ibrahimpasic
Chief Engineer, BiH State Court

`We are now in the future main court room, one of the five in this court. With it's equipment and new technology it will ensure full protection of protected witnesses and modern trials.`
But it's not just about bricks and mortar. The EU is also helping to make B iH osnian State institutions work efficiently.

Efficient policing for example.

This is a police training exercise supervised by the European Police Mission.. European police officers are seconded here to help their Bosnian counterparts develop not only a professional force, but also a fair and impartial one. A vital element in a post war society, where divisions still remain between the three ethnic communities.

Police and judicial reform- in line with EU Standards- are high on the checklist for future union membership.

In Brussels, it's the E e nlargement D d irectorate General of the European Commission , which dr ives forward the EU integration process in partnership with potential afts assistance programmes to future EU member states. With a new Commissioner in charge of EU expansion, enlargement , the W w estern Balkans have now been included for the first time in the enlargement portfolio:

Interview Olli Rehn, European Commissioner for Enlargement

`It is a very clear political signal that the countries of the Western Balkans are part of the pre-accession and enlargement process. The Union wants to facilitate their pre-accession and we intend to work very closely with the countries of the Western Balkans for their European future.`

Back in B iH osnia , these are the people who have the onerous task of ensuring Bosnia and Herzegovina fulfils all the requirements can tick all the boxes for EU membership.

The Bosnian Directorate for European Integration acts as a motor to make the Bosnian government and its institutions move on the European reform agenda. But there's a lot of work to be done:

Interview Emir Hadzikadunic
Directorate for European Integration of man
`People working here are motivating other institutions to give their contribution so that Bosnia Herzegovina does not lag behind on its way to join the European Union`

Most of the new generation of civil servants working in the Directorate for European Integration studied here at Sarajevo University. This Masters course in European Studies is open to students from all over the Balkans and elsewhere in Europe. They learn about how the EU works and the European integration process.

Zdravko Grebo set up the department with help from other European universities. He believes it's essential for the Bosnian youngsters to look outwards:

Interview Zdravko Grebo, Professor
Sarajevo University

`Once you become a member of the EU, you can forget about your national resentments, you have to respect the standards. If there is one hope for Bosnia and Herzegovina – it's the EU. `

Leila fled Bosnia during the war, but came back to Sarajevo after 9 years to take the Masters in European Studies. Although there are others of her age still keen to leave Bosnia, Leila returned because she believes in the future of her country. She wanted a part in its rebuilding.

Interview Leila Letic, student

`The process of integration is very slow. It's only ten years since the end of the war, and that's not a very long period to change the country completely. Just like Bosnia, the countries of the region would like to join the European family. We all see our future and perspective within the EU and it is our main goal now.`

As the EU becomes more and more engaged involved in Bosnia , Bosnia and Herzegovina the Bosnian authorities can see that a European future is within its their grasp.

What's needed now is the commitment of the Bosnian people a young generation to make it happen.