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Clinton says EU, NATO Membership Way To Bosnian Stability

October 30, 2012


U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has said Bosnia "belongs in Europe" and its access to the European Union and NATO would be the best way to ensure lasting stability in the country.

Clinton spoke in Sarajevo at a joint news conference with EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton on October 30.

"We believe that joining the European Union and NATO offers this country, especially the young people of this country, the best path to lasting stability and prosperity," she said. "We have no doubt that Bosnia and Herzegovina belongs in Europe."

The U.S.-brokered peace deal which ended the 1992-1995 war between Bosnia's Muslims, Serbs and Croats divides the country into two semiautonomous entities -- the Serbs' Republika Srpska and the Muslim-Croat Federation.

Clinton, who had met earlier with Bosnia's tripartite presidency, also criticized Bosnian Serb leaders who have repeatedly threatened to break away.

"In addition, it is totally unacceptable that 17 years after the war ended, some still question Bosnia and Herzegovina's sovereignty and territorial integrity," she said. "Such talk is a distraction from the problems facing the country and serves only to undermine the goal of European integration. The Dayton accords must be respected and preserved, period."

Sarajevo lags behind its neighbors in terms of the progress it has made toward joining the EU, as it is the only Balkan country that has yet to apply for EU membership.

Clinton, however, expressed Washington's full political support for Bosnia's membership in both the EU and NATO.

"The United States shares with the European Union a vision of a peaceful stable, prosperous Bosnia and Herzegovina that is fully integrated into the Euro-Atlantic institutions," she said.

Clinton and Ashton travel to Belgrade later on October 30 to press Serbia to restart the EU-brokered dialogue with Kosovo.

Based on reporting by AFP and Reuters

Source: http://www.rferl.org/content/clinton-backs-eu-nato-membership/24755757.html

Copyright (c) 2012. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.

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