In his new analysis, professor Dr. Hamza Karcic from the Faculty of Political Sciences in Sarajevo calls on NATO to urgently accept Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) as a member, warning of the pro-Russian trend in the country and the possibility of opening “a new front in the Balkans to distract from the war in Ukraine”.
Karcic begins his analysis by recalling that in 1995 the military intervention led by the United States (U.S.) ended the three-and-a-half-year war in BiH and that the U.S., together with the European Union (EU), invested large amounts of money in building peace.
“Now pro-Russian actors are threatening to destroy the country’s future in Western institutions by preventing its accession to NATO”, he states and recalls the statements of the Russian ambassador to BiH, who earlier this month issued a “disguised threat” to the country in case it decides to continue with NATO membership.
“BiH’s pro-Western course is questionable”
Moreover, Karcic states that on the eve of the elections last October, numerous political parties presented themselves as “reformists”, promising major changes in a country dominated by ethnic affiliations. When the new government at the state level was finally formed at the end of January, international diplomats based in Sarajevo welcomed it as a sign of much-needed change, the U.S. embassy expressed its support and offered help in the “reforms necessary for the Euro-Atlantic integration of BiH”, and the EU also expressed enthusiasm.
However, he warns that the positive changes and the pro-Western course of the country are now questionable.
“At the state level, two hardline parties that dominated the country’s politics remain in power: SNSD and HDZ. A coalition document signed before the new government took office ominously omitted BiH’s goal of joining NATO. The country’s ambition to join the EU is mentioned, but not the military alliance,” says Karcic.
“Investing in the security of BiH is investing in the security of Europe”
Karcic points out that Sarajevo is only an hour’s flight from Vienna and that in the early 1990s, hundreds of thousands of BiH refugees left for Western Europe.
“Investing in BiH’s security is a direct investment in European security,” he underlined.
“If the integration of BiH into NATO is stopped – as expected – the message for the U.S. and its allies in NATO is clear: Accept BiH into NATO before it is too late”, he appeals.