| 20 May 2024, Monday |

EU top military official voices support for Bosnia’s joint armed forces

After Serb leader Milorad Dodik threatened to withdraw the Serb component out of the forces and build an exclusively Serb army within Bosnia, the European Union’s top military official expressed support for the unified Bosnian armed forces on Thursday.

The creation of the country’s united military forces (OSBiH), which includes Serb, Croat, and Bosniak components that battled each other in a 1990s war, has been hailed as the most significant success since the conflict, which claimed the lives of over 100,000 people.

The Dayton peace accords of 1995 divided Bosnia and Herzegovina along ethnic lines into two extremely autonomous territories, the Serb Republic and the Federation shared by Croats and Bosniaks, which were united by a weak central authority that was strengthened over time to keep the state functional.

However, Dodik, a separatist Serb politician backed by Russia who is displeased with international peace envoys and the constitutional court’s verdicts, has stated that he intends to withdraw from state institutions, including the armed forces.

Claudio Graziano, the chairman of the EU Military Committee, said his visit was intended to demonstrate the significance the 27-nation bloc places on Bosnia’s unity.

“I bring a message from all the 27 that there is support for the armed forces,” Graziano told a news conference.

Senad Masovic, the head of the OSBiH joint headquarters, said the armed forces are the only legal and legitimate military force in the whole territory of Bosnia, under the defense law passed by the national parliament.

“Anything else will be regarded as a paramilitary organization,” Masovic said.

Bosnia’s international peace envoy Christian Schmidt, addressing the parliament with regards to the ongoing political crisis caused by the Serb blockade of state institutions, said it was “unacceptable to undo achievements of the past 26 years”.

Any unilateral undoing of state institutions would be a “very serious setback” for Bosnia, Schmidt said.

  • Reuters