European Union leaders on Thursday granted Bosnia candidate status to join the union, putting the volatile Balkan nation at the start of a long road to membership.
The move came as Kosovo became the latest country to formally lodge an application to apply for membership in the bloc.
The European Commission had recommended in October to the Member States to grant this status to this country undermined by poverty and political instability, which is facing secessionist threats.
Bosnia is divided between a Serbian entity, the Republika Srpska, and a Croat-Muslim federation, linked by a weak central power that is often paralyzed. This complex political system is inherited from the Dayton Peace Accords which ended the inter-communal war in which 100,000 people were killed between 1992 and 1995. Recognition of candidate status is only the beginning of a long process.
The next step is requiring the unanimity of the twenty-seven members, and the opening of official accession negotiations, which will take time, because the candidate countries must incorporate a large number of European legislative acts into their national law.