The United States strongly and unconditionally supports the territorial integrity of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and nothing will change about that, US special envoy for the Western Balkans Matthew Palmer told N1, commenting on the recently leaked documents that speculated about redrawing of borders in the Western Balkans.
Speaking to N1's Pressing from Washington, Palmer said he has read many reports on the alleged non-paper but that he did not take it seriously as its authors remained unknown and the document is unofficial.
“The ideas presented there are dangerous and wrongly directed. And those ideas were rejected long ago as completely irrelevant for the Balkans,” he was quoted as saying.
The United States, he stressed, supports the efforts to identify compromise among the political leaders and political parties for Bosnia and Herzegovina to become more functional.
“And so it can present itself as a credible candidate for the membership in the European Union,” he added.
“Transparent, responsible, prosperous” – the vision of “greater Bosnia and Herzegovina”
The alleged non-paper whose content was recently published by Slovenian necenzurirano.si website proposes among other things the idea of merging the parts of Bosnia and Herzegovina, more precisely its Serb-dominated region Republika Srpska, with Serbia, while Kosovo would be annexed to Albania. Also, some parts of Bosnian territory, according to the document, would be annexed to Croatia.
The US does not support greater Serbia, greater Croatia, or greater Albania, Palmer said. What it does support is the greater Bosnia and Herzegovina. He explained what it means.
“The country that presents a good administration. Transparency. Responsibility. Prosperity. The government that delivers to the people of Bosnia and Herzegovina what it needs. That's the vision of greater Bosnia and Herzegovina that has the strong support of the US,” he said, noting that ‘greater Bosnia and Herzegovina’ is not a geographic term.
As for the US-European Union cooperation in the region, Palmer said they work in a close partnership both in Sarajevo and at the international level.
This year, he said, is a non-election year and a chance for the leaders to reach compromise on the electoral reform, which would include a limited constitutional reform. Also, they should work on economic reforms and it would all together enable Bosnia and Herzegovina to secure the status of the EU candidate.
The success of Mostar talks proves that compromise is possible
Asked what exactly does the limited constitutional reform entail, he replied that the final solution should move BiH closed to the European Union, not further. That means the implementation of ‘Sejdic-Finci‘ and other court decisions. The final solution, he added, will require the support of three large parties – the HDZ BiH, SDA, and SNSD. “It is not possible to move on without a broader consent. We believe it is possible to reach that consent. They can count on the support and partnership of the United States,” Palmer was quoted as saying.
The success of negotiations on the Mostar election proves that even difficult issues can be solved and leaders can gather to work on a compromise, Palmer noted, concluding: “That's democracy.”
As for Russia's influence, the State Department official said it is completely clear this country is undermining the stability and territorial integrity of Bosnia and Herzegovina as well as the stability of the whole Western Balkans.
“The US wants a European future for the Western Balkans. That's why we are the strongest partner in the region.”
He stressed Russia is not the one who will decide on Bosnia's relations with NATO or European Union. “Bosnia and Herzegovina is an independent, sovereign state which makes decisions on its own. It is on BiH to define its relations with NATO.”
The US supports German Christian Schmidt as a candidate for new High Representative
Speaking of the appointment of the new High Representative in BiH, the international envoy who oversees the peace implementation in the country, Palmer said that German candidate Christian Schmidt is an excellent candidate for this post and that he has the US’ support.
However, the Peace Implementation Council will have a final say in the appointment of the new candidate, he added.
Asked to comment on the High Representative's effort to ban the genocide denial and glorification of war criminals in BiH, Palmer noted that denial of genocide is a horrible thing and that politicians are using it to divert attention from important matters.
“What does matter is to ensure a responsible and transparent government that will help BiH to move on,” he underlined.
Message for the region: The United States remains a friend and ally
At the end of the interview, Palmer conveyed a message to the people of the region.
The US is devoted to the Western Balkans and it remains a partner, friend, and ally.
“Our vision of the Western Balkans is your vision. European future of this region, the EU membership, and either membership or close partnership with NATO. That's the vision of peace, stability, and prosperity.”