Bosnia's PM in Munich: No alternative to Bosnia's NATO and EU path

NEWS 15.02.2019 19:46
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Source: N1

There is no alternative to Bosnia’s NATO and EU membership and any obstructions on that path are detrimental to the well-being of all of the country’s citizens, the head of Bosnia’s government, Denis Zvizdic, said on Friday in Munich where he is attending the 55th Munich Security Conference (MSC).

The Conference represents the biggest global forum where 25 heads of states or governments and more than 100 foreign affairs and defence ministers, representatives of international organisations and experts from the entire world are discussing cooperation in defence, international relations, arms races and security issues.

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“The NATO Alliance is gaining in importance,” Zvizdic said, adding that the Alliance has gathered enough countries to include a billion people now.

He pointed out that the GDP of the NATO alliance is 24 times bigger than the GDP of any country in the world.

“The NATO Alliance is an exceptionally important security umbrella for its members and it is important for us. Bosnia’s Euro-Atlantic integration has no alternative,” he said.

Bosnia’s further progress toward membership in the Alliance is a “long-term strategy which brings long-term peace and stability to Bosnia and the entire Western Balkan region,” he said, adding that this is a prerequisite to economic prosperity and a perspective that would prevent youth from leaving the country.

Bosnia’s government, called the Council of Ministers, has, however, postponed for the fourth time the discussion about the Annual National Programme (ANP) which needs to be adopted in order for the Membership Action Plan (MAP), an important step toward membership in the Alliance, to be activated.

Bosnian Serb ministers have been asking for the ANP to be removed from the agenda.

Bosnian Serbs traditionally dislike NATO since the alliance’s bombing of Bosnian Serb artillery positions during the 1992-1995 Bosnian war and its airstrikes on Serbia during the 1999 Kosovo conflict.

Although they initially favoured and approved Bosnia’s path toward NATO, Bosnian Serb politicians changed their minds and now vehemently reject membership.

The current Chairman of Bosnia’s tripartite Presidency, Bosnian Serb Milorad Dodik, has been saying that he does not support Bosnia joining the Alliance as long as Serbia is staying away from it.

Zvizdic said he “does not understand his colleagues” who reject the adoption of the ANP.

“Every country which entered NATO has in the following two or three years increased its foreign investments manyfold,” he said, exemplifying this with Bulgaria and adding that this is currently happening in Montenegro, Macedonia and Albania.

Bosnia’s path toward NATO has turned into a political issue, he said.

Although Zvizdic is the outgoing CoM Chairman and another candidate is supposed to take over the office, he said he will only step down after the ANP is adopted and sent to the NATO Headquarters in Brussels.

“We insist on respecting the Constitution, the laws, decisions and the strategy in place. And in all of those documents we have a clearly defined legal norm that Bosnia and Herzegovina needs to continue its activities in regard to NATO integration,” he said.

This does not refer to full membership, he explained, but only to activating the MAP which is “not only tied to the defence segment but also to the strengthening of the total system of forces maintaining Bosnia and Herzegovina.”

“We are not setting conditions for any activities other than respect for the Constitution and laws,” he said.

In an interview for N1, Zvizdic also commented on a recent statement by Bosnian Serb politician and member of the Alliance of Independent Social Democrats (SNSD), Nebojsa Radmanovic, who said there was a possibility of Bosnian Serb politicians blocking Bosnia’s path toward EU membership as well.

Zvizdic said that he considers Radmanovic a “rational, responsible and practical politician,” and that he believes that stance “is only a consequence of a political trend.”

“I don’t think Republika Srpska (RS, the Serb-majority semi-autonomous entity within Bosnia) will ever decide to halt the European integration process, as that would be kind of a suicidal move,” he said.

“That is why I always express and demand that we separate particular political interests from important strategic goals of Bosnia and Herzegovina,” he added.

He called upon Bosnian Serb politicians to “stop blackmailing.”

Zvizdic said that he is satisfied with Bosnia’s efforts in fighting terrorism.

“We have ended the trend of Bosnians leaving for foreign battlefields, but we must actively continue fighting organised crime and deviant behaviour in society,” Zvizdic said, exemplifying the latter with the case of Edin Gacic, a man who killed a total of four people and was killed in a shootout with police on Tuesday.

He said the situation is also far from great on a global level.