US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, has sent a letter to Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) Presidency members in order to encourage them to adopt the annual national programme, as an important step on the country’s path toward NATO integration. NATO foreign ministers recently supported BiH reforms and efforts to activate the country’s Membership Action Plan (MAP).
“The creation and submission of the programme to Brussels will not predetermine BiH future NATO membership, but will influence the transformation and modernisation of your Armed Forces. It will also improve the country’s security and strengthen the reform process as part of aspirations to get the EU candidate status”, Pompeo emphasized in the letter.
He added that BiH wish to join the Alliance was clearly stated through its foreign policy and that he understands the concerns within the Presidency that more intense cooperation with the NATO could affect the country’s relations with its neighbours.
Pompeo noted that Serbia has a significant level of cooperation with the Alliance, including joint exercises aimed at increasing the interoperability between it and NATO forces. There is no reason, as he said in the letter, why BiH should not have such close cooperation with NATO as well.
The Presidency members reactions were as it was expected – two of them welcomed the letter and one is definitely against any kind of closer links with the Alliance. It is not difficult to guess that Šefik Džaferović (Bosniak) and Željko Komšić (Croat) are keen to lead the country in NATO membership and Milorad Dodik (Serb) is not willing to approve that.
Džaferović said that the views expressed in the letter are compatible with BiH main foreign policy goals, which were confirmed by the Presidency’s earlier decisions, the Law on Defence and the State Foreign Policy Strategy.
“I also welcome the position of the Secretary of State that BiH is of strategic importance for regional stability, as well as the expressed desire of the United States to enhance cooperation with BiH, which is in the interest of all peoples and citizens in our country”, said Džaferović. Komšić, said the letter should be seen as a further incentive and the US and NATO’s help to BiH to reinforce its reform activities in all aspects of life.
“BiH and its institutions have earlier expressed their determination to continue the Euro-Atlantic integration process through relevant laws and strategies, and we will insist that the process continues. It is clear that BiH belongs to the European family of democratic and pluralist states gathered around common values and interests expressed through EU and NATO institutions. It is high time that we take our place within this family because there is no other alternative”, Komšić said in a written statement to the media.
Dodik emphasized that Republika Srpska stance about military neutrality and not joining any military alliance is definitive. He added that the US concern about the situation in BiH was continuous.
“They are trying to find something to hold on to, but they have to get used to the fact that our stance in that respect is definitive. Republika Srpska is in favour of military neutrality and not joining any military alliances”, Dodik told local media.
He expects that the Serb representatives in the Council of Ministers remain committed to the Resolution on Military Neutrality of the National Assembly of RS. Any other decision, he stressed, would be against the interests of RS and bring anyone acting that way into a position of breaching the decisions of the RS highest bodies.
“In any case, there will not be any new decisions for joining NATO because RS and Serbs cannot accept membership of the alliance for the reasons we gave earlier, primarily because NATO bombed us and because they incurred us major losses in terms of people and property”, Dodik said.
The activation of the MAP for BiH is one of the biggest point of disagreement in the state at the moment. Komšić and Džaferović earlier stated that they would not vote for a new Council of Ministers Chairman until Dodik agree with the MAP activation./IBNA