After years of lingering behind its neighbors on the path to EU membership, Bosnia's president has announced his country will apply for EU membership in mid-February.

Dragan Covic, chair of the three-member presidency, said Tuesday that the formal application will be handed over on February 15 and that by then Bosnia will try to have fulfilled the last two preconditions for the application to be considered as credible by the EU. The country has to create an effective coordination mechanism for dealing with the EU and to adjust a trade agreement with the EU.

Most other non-EU countries in the Western Balkans already have candidate status, and Bosnia hopes to obtain it within a year. It still will take years of reforms and negotiations before membership is granted.