Stoltenberg, who is on a tour of the Western Balkans, said NATO strongly supports BiH’s territorial integrity and is concerned about separatist and divisive rhetoric and outside influences, especially Russia. “All this poses a threat to stability and hinders reforms,” warned Stoltenberg after meeting with the President of the Council of Ministers of Bosnia and Herzegovina Borjana Kristo and the Ministers of Foreign Affairs and Defense, Elmedin Konaković and To Zukan Screws.
Stoltenberg also reminded that NATO has been operating in BiH for years, because he believes that this country and region extremely important, and wants to deepen cooperation through political dialogue and practical cooperation, including support for the EU military mission Althea.
He expressed his support for efforts to improve BiH’s defense capabilities as well as the country’s Euro-Atlantic path, and added that the final decisions and responsibility for this rest with the politicians in BiH. “Each country has the right to choose its own security arrangements without outside interference,” said Stoltenberg, who is aware of the deep divisions in Bosnia and Herzegovina regarding possible membership in the alliance, which is strongly opposed in the Republika Srpska.
The President of the BiH Council of Ministers, Krišto, said that cooperation with NATO is an opportunity to strengthen security and defense capabilities for effective response to existing threats. She thanked Stoltenberg for a NATO aid package worth around 50 million euros within the framework of nine different projects.
Stoltenberg also met with a high representative of the international community in Bosnia and Herzegovina Christian Schmidt and expressed his full support, especially because of the attacks by the authorities of the Republika Srpska z Milorad Dodik at the head of which, with the support of Russia, challenge the legality of Schmidt’s appointment to this position. Schmidt, however, said that the full cooperation of the institutions, as determined by the Dayton Agreement, including the position of the high representative, and the NATO alliance is necessary to ensure the rule of law in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The Republika Srpska opposes BiH’s membership in NATO
Stoltenberg began his tour on Sunday with informally dinner in Sarajevo, during which the Serbian member of the presidency is present Željka Cvijanović reiterated that the Republika Srpska entity opposes membership in NATO, reported RTV Slovenia correspondent Boštjan Anžin from Belgrade.
“Once someone becomes a member of NATO, that’s it automatically the enemy state of Russia and China, but they support Republika Srpska where it matters most, in the United Nations Security Council. From several points of view, rapprochement with NATO would be harmful,” he said Hearty Lubricanta party member of parliament SNSD Milorad Dodik.
Bosnia and Herzegovina meets most of NATO’s requirements, but in the past – for example in the creation of the joint armed forces – Dodik also participated, but later changed his mind and made a decision on neutrality following the example of Serbia, but the reforms at the state level continued, and the soldiers participated in NATO missions and military exercises. Alia KozljakSecurity Advisor to the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina, said: “The Russian Federation is trying to stop Euro-Atlantic integration in the area of the Western Balkans. In Bosnia and Herzegovina, of course, it has very fertile soil due to of proxies, who work in the interests of Russia. One of them is certainly Milorad Dodik, who in every possible way, at least declaratively, resisted the acceleration of the path to NATO.”
Also to Kosovo, Serbia and North Macedonia
Stoltenberg will visit NATO soldiers both in Bosnia and Herzegovina and in Kosovo, where they are working as part of the KFOR mission. More than 90 were injured in May violence following local elections in the north, which were boycotted by Serbs, and the alliance has therefore increased their numbers. On Tuesday, a visit to Serbia follows, where they insist on military neutrality, but also arm themselves with the help of Russia and China, and cooperate with NATO, which most Serbs first remember the bombing of Yugoslavia.
Stoltenberg, who believes that strong institutions such as NATO and the Union are crucial in times of instability, will conclude the tour in North Macedonia. A meeting with leaders from allied countries is also planned there the regionalso from Slovenia, added Anžin.