HR Schmidt in Washington: The RS Army will not be formed, I have the Support of the U.S. and NATO

The international community’s High Representative (HR) for Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), Christian Schmidt, is currently in Washington, DC, where he is meeting with top diplomatsfrom the United States (U.S.). In an interview with the Voice of America (VOA), Schmidt spoke about the goals of his stay in the U.S. and summarized the experiences of his short, but dynamic, diplomatic engagement in BiH.

The purpose of the visit to the U.S.

HR Schmidt, what is the purpose of your visit to the U.S., and what do you believe you have achieved so far?

It is very important to meet with one of the key partners in the implementation of the Dayton Agreement, to be informed about the situation in BiH, as well as to consult on future joint decisions in accordance with my competence and the competencies of the international community.

Schmidt: The instruments are in my hands

What do you mean when you say adapt?

We must admit that Dayton is not respected, especially because of Mr. Dodik’s acts. We need to discuss how we will deal with that, what the future holds for BiH to somehow secure membership in the European Union (EU), and what the next steps should be. So, it is not only about meetings in Washington, but also in Brussels, and other capitals such as London.

In your recent report to the United Nations (UN) Secretary-General, you claimed that BiH is in the most dangerous position since the war. You mentioned potential “irreparable damage” if things continue. Am I right?

”That is correct. I do not mean a military increase in tensions, but the dysfunctionality of the state as a whole. Some do not attend any session of parliament, government, the presidency. So, they don’t make any decisions. For example, we do not have a budget. There is only a temporary budget. This dysfunction transforms into a destructive situation. The state will not be able to act if we do not help them return to the table.

The Army of Republika Srpska (RS) will not be formed

Dayton relies on two components to be successful. There is a civilian component that you are in charge of implementing, and then there is a military component that the EU is currently responsible for through Operation Althea. Pentagon officials stated that Operation Althea lacked about 4.300 troops to be credible as a deterrent force. There was hope that the EU would slightly increase the number of troops, but in your report, you noted that the assessment of whether this should happen should come only if RS starts forming its units. Is it true that you would wait for them to take illegal action and start forming paramilitary units?

”In my opinion, the good news is that together we can solve the possibility of unilateral dissolution of the army. The RS Army will not be formed. The consequences of that are very clear, including my side. After talking to the Secretary-General of NATO last week, I would say that this is not about increasing the presence, but about a presence that can be considered the commitment of the international community to contribute to the implementation of Dayton. This means that there should be cooperation between the EU and NATO. NATO is present in Sarajevo. It should be clear that if things get complicated, that the EU, EUFOR, and NATO, through the so-called commandand strategy “Berlin Plus”, could increase their presence. I don’t see the need for that at the moment, but I think we need to be aware of the situation.

Many people say that for a long time nothing is done but talking, and the situation only gets worse. You mentioned the change of the law, but if the laws are not respected, then what to do? There are many examples in BiH that the Constitutional Court has made a decision, but it is not being implemented. The problem is not the law. The problem is its implementation.

That is why I wrote in my report to the UN that I see a very difficult situation, so destructive, that the existence and sovereignty of the state can be called into question. I’d rather consider whether there are things we could change in the construction of Dayton. The Dayton construction has very sophisticated controls and balances. The idea was that these controls and balances would guarantee the influence of the three peoples and the two entities, and then they could work together. We now see that controls and balances lead to blockades.

Many analysts, especially those from the U.S., think that Europeans have a purely one-dimensional approach. Many are worried that the mistakes of the 1990s are repeated and that Europeans have not learned anything.

I am a European, but I am someone who is very committed to the fact that there are not only carrots but also sticks. We need to think about transitional steps to maintain momentum, as well as not just have a one-dimensional view, since this region is of strategic interest. If separation happened, it would suddenly affect the entire neighborhood. Europe and the West have a strategic interest in keeping this region stable.

This is no longer “only the Balkan rhetoric”

One of the issues the OHR had to address was the lack of credibility due to this lack of activity over the years. Also, RSclaims that any decision you make is illegitimate and that you do not have a mandate. But also in the Federation, there is a lack of trust in you because of your relations in the Bundestag with other members of the EPP, including the HDZ in Croatia. So, there is a lack of trust in you by most actors in BiH. How to overcome it?

I respect all the elected people in BiH, but I will also refer to the Austrian Emperor Franz Joseph, who stated, “I have ruled well if all my people are dissatisfied with me,” Schmidt concluded in an interview with the VOA.



Source: Avaz



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