Experts: Macron does not understand the Balkans

NEWS 08.11.2019 12:03
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Source: Etienne Laurent/Pool via REUTERS

Renowned analysts experts on the Balkans have criticised Emmanuel Macron over his statement that Bosnia and Herzegovina is a “ticking time-bomb,” saying that the French President does not understand the Balkans.

“If you're concerned about this region, the first question is neither Macedonia, nor Albania, it's Bosnia-Herzegovina. The time-bomb that's ticking right next to (the EU member) Croatia, and which faces the problem of returning jihadists,” Macron said, referring to escaped or released Islamic State fighters who could return to Europe.

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The statement sparked outrage among Bosnian officials but also drew criticism from prominent foreign analysts.

“Macron's view of Bosnia and Herzegovina reminds me of Trump on Ukraine. Both seem to be getting their talking points from elsewhere, from people in Moscow and Zagreb who are obsessed with their neighbours and will do anything to control them. Shameful Macron would fall for this,” policy researcher at the United Nations, Toby Vogel, tweeted.

According to Balkans expert Florian Bieber, Macron fails to understand the central issue plaguing Europe.

“The more Macron explains his views on the Balkans, the more it is clear that it is based on ignorance, bias and arrogance. Europe's ticking time bomb is not in Bosnia but in West European unwillingness to understand that Europe is bigger than just it's Western half,” he tweeted.

Foreign Policy Institute fellow at the Johns Hopkins University, Majda Ruge, also commented on the statement by the French President.

“Macron gets it right that Bosnia is central to the stability of the Western Balkans but gets it wrong as to why this is the case. On jihadist threat, both Bosnia & the Western Balkans fare better than France, whether measured by the number of foreign terrorist fighters or terrorist attacks,” she tweeted.