EU to Recommend That Bosnia-Herzegovina Start Accession Talks

(Bloomberg) -- The European Union’s executive arm will recommend that Bosnia-Herzegovina start accession talks, according to people familiar with the plan, in a major boost for the Balkan nation’s bid to join the bloc.

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The European Commission is expected to announce the decision on Tuesday, said the people, who asked not to be named because the matter isn’t public yet.

The path to become an EU member is a long and arduous one, and requires the unanimous agreement of all the bloc’s leaders. Croatia was the last country to join and its application took 10 years before it was formally accepted in 2013.

The move will be a win for Bosnia, a fragile country comprised of two entities, Republika Srpska and a Muslim-Croat federation, linked by a weak central government in Sarajevo. Bosnian Serb leader Milorad Dodik, who counts Russian President Vladimir Putin as an ally, has long threatened to secede from the rest of the country and has opposed an idea of membership in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

The war-torn Balkan nation of 3.3 million applied for EU membership in 2016 and was granted candidate status last year. It will join neighbors Serbia, Montenegro, Albania, and North Macedonia, as well as Ukraine and Moldova, that are all at various stages of entry negotiations.

The EU has been looking to accelerate its long-stagnant enlargement process to prevent neighbors from falling under the influence of nations that don’t share its values, such as Russia and China.

Politico reported on the decision earlier Monday.

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