Bosnia threatens to fall apart, EU officials warn | Bosnia Herzegovina
The main representative of the international community in Bosnia has warned that the country is in danger of falling apart and that there is a “very real” prospect of a return to conflict.
In a Guardian report to the UN, Christian Schmidt, the High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina, said that if Serb separatists carried out their threat to rebuild their own army and split the national armed forces in two, more international peacekeeping forces would have been sent back to stop sliding into a new war.
The international peacekeeping tasks in Bosnia are currently being taken over by a remaining 700-strong force from the EU (Eufor). With its headquarters in Sarajevo, NATO retains a formal pioneer. The one-year mandate for both is due for renewal this week in the UN Security Council, but Russia has threatened to block a resolution if all references to the HR are not removed, which could undermine Schmidt’s authority as overseer of the 1995 Dayton Peace Accords.
In his first report since taking office in August, the former German Federal Minister Schmidt warned of the “greatest existential threat of the post-war period”.
The Bosnian Serb leader is Milorad Dodik threatens to move out the state institutions, including the national army, which was built with international assistance over the past quarter century, and rebuild a Serbian armed force. On October 14, Dodik said he would force the Bosnian army to withdraw from the Republika Srpska (the Serbian half of Bosnia) by surrounding their barracks and that he had “friends” who had promised the Serbian cause alleged reference to Serbia and Russia.
Bosnian Serb police carried out “Counter Terrorism” Exercises last month on Mount Jahorina, from where Serbian troops bombed Sarajevo during a siege from 1992 to 1995.
“It is tantamount to secession without proclaiming it,” wrote Schmidt in a report to UN Secretary General António Guterres on Friday. He said Dodik’s actions “not only endanger the peace and stability of the country and region, but could – if left unanswered by the international community – lead to the downfall of the country [Dayton peace] Agreement itself. “
The High Representative said it was possible that there would be clashes between Bosnian national law enforcement agencies and the Bosnian Serb police.
“Should the armed forces of BiH [Bosnia and Herzegovina] Splitting into two or more armies, the level of international military presence would have to be reassessed, ”warned Schmidt.
“Failure to respond to the current situation would be the [Dayton agreement], while the instability in BiH would have far-reaching regional implications, ”he said. “The prospects for further divisions and conflicts are very real.”
Schmidt’s warnings were issued when the UN Security Council was preparing its annual resolution on Wednesday to renew the peace mandate for Eufor and NATO headquarters. Moscow threatens to block the resolution if all references to the High Representative are not removed.
The Kremlin opposed Schmidt’s appointment by a Peace Implication Council, an ad hoc multinational body set up to implement the Dayton Peace Accords, and refuses to recognize his authority.
“I suspect Russia is really trying to weaken the authority of the High Representative’s office by preventing it from informing the council,” said a diplomat close to the discussions.
Kurt Bassuener, co-founder and senior associate of the Democratization Policy Council, a Berlin-based think tank, said, “It sounds like the Americans, British and French have actually agreed to really remove the previous references to the High Representative Boilerplate, standard output language in all previous resolutions. ”He added,“ And while that doesn’t legally undercut the High Representatives, politically it’s safe as hell. ”
Even if Eufor’s mandate is extended, there is little appetite in the EU to increase the small force in Bosnia. Some Member States, particularly Hungary, support Dodik.
“I think he is ready to bet on the possibility that, unlikely as it is, he can get away with it, essentially quickly creating new facts on the ground and trusting the confusion and delay in both Sarajevo and the international one Community. “And ultimately there would be no significant international consequences,” said Bosnian political scientist Jasmin Mujanović.
Deputy Assistant Secretary of State of the United States Gabriel Escobar told Congress last week that the US is working with the EU to ensure that there are consequences for illegal or destabilizing acts in Bosnia. However, it is unclear whether the Biden government would support a return to NATO peacekeeping.
Alida Vračić, head of Bosnia-based think tank Populari, said the lingering and worsening feeling of the crisis allowed the country’s leaders to cover up their failure to rule.
“Dodik has gone ballistic, but together politicians hope to win points in this crisis and citizens are expected to be the only losers,” said Vračić.
“This discussion is useful as it breaks all meaningful discussions like the fact that Sarajevo is suffocating in the smog [the regional governments] Money misappropriated in the Covid 19 crisis that the death toll in Sarajevo is high worse than during the warthat half of the country lives in poverty, that we have completed exactly zero reforms, that no laws have been discussed in parliament for months. “