The outgoing international mediator in Bosnia-Herzegovina says the country is on its way to integrating with the rest of Europe, and the West must abandon what he called "coercion and imposition" as it pushes for reform.

Paddy Ashdown made the comment in a speech to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) in Vienna. He is to leave his post at the beginning of next year.

Mr. Ashdown told the meeting the phase of intensive and intrusive state building in Bosnia must come to an end.

The mediator said Bosnia's education system needs improvement, calling it a bulwark against ethnic, religious, cultural and any other kind of prejudice or segregation.

Bosnia and the European Union recently opened talks on stabilization and association agreement, which is considered a step toward EU candidacy.

Some information for this report provided by AP.