The Minister of Defense of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Sifet Podžić, believes that, regardless of numerous challenges, complex political circumstances and insufficient budget, the Armed Forces of BiH (BiH AF), thanks to the professionalism, knowledge and enthusiasm of its members, continue to successfully realize all key tasks as part of their own mission.
“We are already used to the AF and MoD BiH working in complex political circumstances, which are characterized by disagreements between political actors regarding some key issues for our country and society as a whole. All this has a negative impact on political decisions concerning both our actions and the allocation of money for defense and our Armed Forces, and with a lack of money our hands are tied for many things concerning living and working conditions, as well as modernization and further development,” said Podžić in an interview with FENA.
In the conversation, on the occasion of the 17th anniversary of the establishment of the Armed Forces of BiH, the Minister of Defense of BiH emphasized that, thanks to the professionalism, effort and enthusiasm of the members of the Armed Forces, as well as the direct help of friendly and partner countries, the citizens of BiH can be proud of the achievements of the Armed Forces of BiH.
In reviewing the achievements of the Armed Forces of BiH in the last year, Podžić states that this year, the readiness of the Armed Forces to provide assistance to civilian structures and citizens in need in all parts of BiH, including the area of demining, in which their share is as much as 54 percent of the process, has been demonstrated.
“In addition, our helicopter capacities, increased with the help of our United States partners, are often key in extinguishing fires in open spaces. This year, BiH AF helicopters extinguished fires in Posušje, Konjic, Čitluk, Trebinje, Neum and Gornji Vakuf. At the same time, in 69 hours of flight, they released more than 340 buckets of water on the fire areas,” explained Podžić.
At the same time, he reminds that the pilots of both helicopter squadrons of the Armed Forces of BiH became operational this year on the new ‘Huey II’ helicopter, and that, thanks to the support of the United States of America, the number of new helicopters in the Air Force and Air Defense Brigade of the Armed Forces of BiH will continue to increase.
“With the help of the United Kingdom (UK), we are working on adapting some of our military facilities and making them even more suitable for women. This year, the total percentage of women in the Armed Forces of Bosnia and Herzegovina increased to 8.53 percent,” noted Podžić.
He is of the opinion that it is very important to emphasize that, apart from the fact that the path to membership in NATO is our legal obligation, we must focus on the concrete benefits that membership in the NATO alliance would bring to our citizens.
Furthermore, he states that for the first time after two decades, this year the Armed Forces of Bosnia and Herzegovina have not extended their participation in any international mission, “despite the unquestionable need and our overall interest”.
“I expect the newly elected political leadership to continue our participation in international peace-building, because in doing so they would be working in the direct interest of all citizens, including their voters. Everything else is a partial interest, which hinders the further progress of our country and society, which should become part of a developed and democratic international community, from which young people would not leave, but would see their future in BiH,” said the BiH Minister of Defense Sifet Podžić in an interview with FENA.