Israel is one of the most influential countries in the world, and the interlocutors agree that it is among those countries towards which Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) does not have a clear foreign policy. They were asked what kind of policy we should have towards this country.
Professor Jahja Muhasilovic and journalist and diplomat Hajrudin Somun talked about why BiH has not clearly determined policy on Israel.
Muhasilovic believes that in this case, as in many others, foreign policy relations, as he stated, are a hostage of ethnic relations in BiH. For example, he noted that Serb political representatives monopolized relations with Russia, while Bosniak political representatives monopolized relations with Turkey.
“Relations with Israel have never been clearly defined because of ethnic relations. There is a non-state sector that very often has sympathy for the Palestinian issue. That has not seriously contaminated relations with Israel,” Muhasilovic added.
According to Somun, it is not just a matter of the impression that there is no clearly defined policy, but that, as he noted, it has been true for a quarter of a century that BiH does not have a unified foreign policy. He reminded that other countries, which have several regions, have a unified foreign policy.
“Heads of state or government, and in our country the members of the BiH Presidency should create foreign policy, diplomacy to implement it, and as enabled by the Dayton constitution which was created in a weird way, they behave according to the saying ‘to get one’s wires crossed ‘. Since the topic is about relations between BiH and Israel, the differences between the ‘foreign policies’ pursued by members of the Presidency are almost as drastic as those of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Take, for example, one of the Israeli airstrikes on Palestinian Gaza exactly one year ago. As a sign of support of one side or the other, Palestinian colors shone from Sarajevo City Hall and the Old Bridge, and Israeli flags shone in Banja Luka,” he said.
He thinks that the journalist’s statement “The same goal – the same distance ten years later” was true at the time.
“It was meant that it lasts for a decade, and in fact, it is for decades. When Israel leveled parts of Gaza in 2014, Milorad Dodik sent congratulations to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, as he is looking forward to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine today. By mid-April, after two months of the war it is estimated that 400 children died in Ukraine and 202 according to the United Nations (UN), even though two–thirds fled with their mothers, and in Gaza, only 1.8 million people, mostly refugees, in less than one Canton in BiH, in two or three days since the Israeli bombing in 2014, 538 people died,” Somun reminded.
What a policy should look like
The topic of conversation was also what BiH‘s policy towards Israel should be. Muhasilovic emphasized that it should be based on the national interests of BiH, but that the problem is that BiHhas not defined national interests.
“We have a general view that Euro-Atlantic integration is a priority for us. The world is much wider than the European Union (EU) and NATO. There are serious regional powers that are not members of the EU and NATO, and Israel is among them,” he said.
Asked whether improving relations with Israel would improve BiH‘s status in international relations, he said that no one is preventing any country from having preferences.
Muhasilovic is of the opinion that history is a good basis for building relations, reminding that Jews made up 10 percent of the total population of Sarajevo at the beginning of the 20th century. The fact that the embassy is in Tirana is an indicator of the diplomatic inactivity of BiH.
It is also worth mentioning that influential Jews, not only in the United States (U.S.) but also around the world, lobbied for BiH.This was especially the case during the last war, Klix.ba writes.