Morten Skovgaard Hansen
Morten Skovgaard Hansen


Subtitle: “It is important that the political leaders unite in developing the country, so we should not speculate on the candidate date for Bosnia and Herzegovina.”

How do you see the relations between Denmark and Bosnia and Herzegovina?

The relations between our two countries are good and based on cooperation over many years. Over the last decades Denmark has supported various projects in BiH and we continue to contribute to economic development and reforms. Recently we also see a slightly increased interest in commercial activities and if necessary reform steps are taken there would be a basis for further increase in trade and investments. A positive specific example of cooperation takes place between the twin towns Vejle and Mostar.

In your view, how much progress has BiH made on its way to the EU? Is it realistic to expect a candidate status next year?

Some important steps have been taken over the last year, but BiH is still on a very early stage of the process. To the benefit of the population I hope to see an increased momentum in the reform process in the coming months. I do not think it is time to speculate about timing of candidate status. It is time for action. It is important that political leaders join in moving the country forward by taking the necessary steps including by implementing reforms. The EU and its member states are clearly supporting this process and will take relevant decisions when there is a clear basis for doing that.

Given that the Danish economy is one of the leading ones, well structured but also organized in syndicates, can you perhaps draw parallel between your Denmark and BiH in terms of structure and organization?

You are right, Denmark has a well-structured economy. It has taken many reforms to reach that and our government continuously implements new reforms in order to optimise and adapt to new challenges. Civil society – not only syndicates but also media and others have through constructive engagement and criticism contributed to many of those developments. A particular asset in the Danish economy derives from our decade long focus on sustainability – not least energy efficiency and renewable energy. Our low energy consumption compared to our GDP benefits both the public sector and private consumers but in particular it increases competitiveness in the private sector. Our countries are very different in terms of structure and organisation but I hope that some of our experiences in Denmark could also be to the benefit of BiH – we are happy to share them.

Is it at all possible to copy-paste that level of agreement and organization between employers and unions to BiH? What would be the preconditions?

Each country has to find its own model – the Danish labour market model cannot be copy pasted. It has been developed in a dialogue over decades and is possible because of related legislation, social benefits etc. In general I would say that without dialogue and openness for compromise and solutions progress cannot be achieved.

What would be the areas in which Denmark and BiH could establish stronger economic ties?

There is a potential for stronger ties in many areas. Again I would highlight the need for further reform steps to be taken in BiH. That would increase interest from Danish companies. In particular I would highlight that BiH could leverage on Danish expertise in sustainable development – from energy efficiency, to water and waste water management, through to wind energy. Some projects are already under way and this is something we will explore in the future.

How many Danish companies are there in BiH currently?

Currently, there are around 12 Danish companies in BiH, but we expect more to come with the country’s progress.

How would you assess the business environment in BiH? Is it adequate to attract more foreign investment? What are the major problems the companies are facing?

Improving the business environment is 24/7 work, as all other countries are doing the same. There is always competition in bringing more investment and creating jobs. Some progress has been made, however, there are challenges ahead – various reforms and more effective public institutions are needed to make it easier doing business.

In the second half of May the Embassy of Denmark is organizing a seminar on sustainability in Sarajevo. Can you tell me more about it and about the significance of one such seminar?

This year Denmark, Norway, Sweden and Finland organized Nordic Days  – a series of events around the topics of sustainability and equality. It shows our interest in BiH and based on reactions I would say there was also a great interest from the Bosnian audience.

In cooperation with the Faculty of Architecture in Sarajevo, Denmark hosted a seminar on energy and water. Two experts from Denmark, Jakob Matzen, a Senior Urban Planner from the City of Copenhagen and Herman Juel, Production Manager from Frederiksberg Utilities company shared their knowledge with various stakeholders from BiH and the Danish companies Rockwool, Velux and Energy 3 presented their solutions in the area of energy efficiency and renewable energy.  

The seminar was also the official opening of the exhibition ‘Copenhagen Solutions’ which will be on public display until June 19th at the Faculty of Architecture, so I use this opportunity to invite all interested to visit the Faculty and get inspired by our exhibition.

According to the last report of the UN initiative Sustainable Development Solutions Network, the Danes are the happies people in the world, whereas BiH is as low as 87th. What is the recipe for happiness? (separate text box)

You have to work hard to be happy, that’s the recipe! Well there is more to it than that, but I do believe that reforms Denmark has undertaken over many years and peoples individual engagement have provided a basis for a well-functioning society with trust, social welfare etc. Many experts have given their answers to why Danes are so happy – I would personally also include our use of bicycle as a daily means of transport. It is a great way to start the day and it helps keeping you healthy!