An EU delegation visited Bosnia & Herzegovina (BiH) on Wednesday, announcing that they expect BiH to align its foreign and security policy with that of the EU, and to take a clear and hard stance in condemning Russia’s military action in Ukraine.
The visit comes following a meeting between Serb BiH Presidency Member, Milorad Dodik, and President Putin in Moscow on Tuesday, which was condemned by the EU delegation.
They advised that such an alignment would be in the interest of BiH’s prospects of ascension to the status of EU member state, stating:
“As a country with a clear and credible EU perspective, which has been affirmed at the highest level, we expect Bosnia and Herzegovina to align its foreign, security and trade policies with those of the EU. The extent of this alignment is assessed as part of the EU accession process.
Moreover, given the enormous suffering in Ukraine as a result of Russia’s war of aggression, we expect leaders in Bosnia and Herzegovina to take a clear moral stand and unequivocally condemn Russia’s actions, instead of cordially meeting with Russia’s head of state.”
Thus far, Bosnia has rejected the imposition of sanctions on Russia, largely due to the interventions of Dodik. And given the evident catastrophe such policies have brought upon much of Europe, the prospect of joining the party at such a late stage might not seem inviting, even for the most Westward facing citizens of BiH
Though while BiH have evaded sanctioning Russia and by consequence themselves, they have taken extra steps in recent months to further integrate their military capabilities with NATO, as well as bolstering the EUFOR’s military presence in the country.
The EU’s demands also come against the backdrop of presidential elections in October. Dodik, who currently occupies position of Serb member of the Presidency of BiH, may become President of Republika Srpska (RS), which would speak volumes on the mood of citizens in RS concerning Euro-Atlantic integration and regional secession.
Additionally, the UN Security Council (UNSC) is due to vote on extending the EUFOR mandate in November, with some concerned in BiH that Russia or China may veto the continuation of the EU’s supposed peacekeeping mission in BiH.
Speaking at the UN General Assembly on Wednesday, Chairman Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Šefik Džaferović, stressed the importance of continuing EUFOR’s mandate in BiH, stating:
“It is very important for peace and stability in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the region that this resolution is adopted, but it is worth emphasizing that in any case, according to the Dayton Agreement, the NATO alliance has the right and obligation to deploy its forces in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
“The obligation of the High Representative, according to the Dayton Agreement and the UN Charter, is to protect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and not to contribute to its disintegration”.
NATO’s presence in BiH and BiH’s moves toward integration into the alliance have been perceived as compromising BiH’s sovereignty by Dodik and some in RS. Conversely, Džaferović, feels such a trajectory, which as mentioned will remove BiH’s capacity for independent foreign and security policy, will somehow fortify BiH’s sovereignty.
The protection of BiH’s ‘sovereignty’ was also something emphasised by now UK PM, Liz Truss, during her visit to Sarajevo in May, where she declared:
“We will support Bosnia and Herzegovina’s territorial integrity and sovereignty, and we will back High Rep Christian Schmidt
“Russia is already seeking to undermine reforms that are taking place in this country, and undermine your Euro-Atlantic ambitions. They are fuelling secessionists, threatening Bosnia and Herzegovina’s unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity”.
Truss’ advocacy for the continuation of a system in which BiH requires constant political and military supervision, may not translate well with what many would understand as national sovereignty.
As such, it would seem much the collective West’s rhetoric on the matter again amounts to euphemistic ‘newspeak’, in which ‘alignment of policy’ equates to economic sabotage and commitment of canon fodder into NATO’s war machine, and ‘sovereignty’ as a state of manufactured peace, that BiH may only hold onto if it adheres to EU and NATO policy.