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Bosnia will be given membership candidate status by the EU.

Bosnia has been given candidate status to join the EU by member states, beginning a protracted process to become a member. The European Union’s willingness to explore letting in more of its eastern neighbors has been at a halt for years, but Russia’s war on Ukraine has given it new life.

The EU is concerned that other powers, such as Russia or China, may increase their influence in the Balkans if countries wishing to join the organization are denied entrance.

Following a recommendation from the European Commission that they start the application process in October, the 27 member states of the European Union approved Bosnia becoming a candidate on Tuesday during a meeting in Brussels.

The EU leaders are expected to officially approve the action during their meeting on Thursday in Brussels. The EU’s rotating presidency is now held by the Czech Republic, and its minister for European affairs, Mikulas Bek, said the member states are “sending a clear statement of its commitment to EU enlargement.”

Bosnia’s foreign minister, Bisera Turkovic, claimed that applying to join the EU will open up new financial and investment opportunities for Bosnia

“Investors from all over the world will regard Bosnia as having a clear positive side and opportunity for advancement economically,” she said. The action is being taken despite long-standing worries about Bosnia’s political climate, a three million-person nation beset by ethnic tensions as a result of its horrific war thirty years ago.

It is still divided between a federation of Muslim-Croats and a Serb entity that is linked by a feeble central administration.