A “secessionist rhetoric” in the Serbian entity Republika Srpska and the “evil” interference of Russia in Bosnia-Herzegovina worries NATO, declared Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, on a visit to Sarajevo, on Monday.
“We are concerned about secessionist rhetoric, which seeks division, and malicious foreign interference” in Bosnia, said Jens Stoltenberg, referring to Russia.
Bosnia-Herzegovina – divided after the 1992-1995 intercommunal war along ethnic fault lines – is made up of two entities: one Serbian and one Croat-Muslim, linked by a weak central government.
A possible secession
The political leader of the ethnic Serbs in Bosnia, Milorad Dodik, who cultivates his relations with Russian President Vladimir Putin, regularly evokes the possibility of a secession of the Serbian entity – Republika Srpska (RS).
According to the Secretary General of NATO, the current situation risks endangering “stability” in the country and blocking ongoing reforms.
“The Allies firmly support the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Bosnia-Herzegovina”, he emphasized.
“Your security is important in the Western Balkans region and in Europe”, insisted Jens Stoltenberg.
The NATO Secretary General makes these statements a few days after a warning by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, who accused Moscow of wanting to create new crises – both in the Balkans and in the Republic of Moldova – in order to divert attention from to the Ukraine War.
“Pay attention to the Balkans. Trust me, we’re getting information. Russia has a plan (…). If the countries of the world do nothing now, there will be such a deflagration again,” warned Volodymyr Zelensky on Thursday, according to Ukrainian media.
Since the beginning of the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, the European Military Mission in Bosnia-Herzegovina (EUFOR-Althea) has strengthened its presence in Bosnia-Herzegovina from 500 to 1,100 soldiers.
Jens Stoltenberg is on a tour in Western Balkans.
After the visit to Bosnia-Herzegovina, where he met with the Bosnian Minister of Defense Borjana Kristo, he is to pay a visit to Kosovo, Serbia and North Macedonia.
Publication date: 20-11-2023 15:51