UNITED NATIONS (PA) – The UN Security Council on Wednesday unanimously agreed to extend the mandate of the European Union military force in Bosnia, voting after Russia barred members from hearing a warning from the top international official in Bosnia that the war-ravaged Balkan nation faces an “existential threat” from the separatist actions of the Bosnian Serbs.
Russia, a close ally of the Bosnian Serbs, has made several attempts to end the role of Bosnia’s high representative, now Christian Schmidt, and succeeded in preventing him from submitting its latest report to the council saying that the Bosnia and Herzegovina could face a new division and a new conflict if the international community does not restrain the Bosnian Serbs.
But UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres sent Schmidt’s report to the 15 Council members, and after the vote on EU strength his warnings were issued by the US, UK, Ireland, Estonia and other Council countries who have strongly supported the importance of retaining the High Representative.
Russian Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia told the council that with regard to Moscow, the high representative was appointed “in violation of international law” and that “the post remains vacant”. He strongly objected to the report of what he called “a private person” distributed to council members, saying it is “an extremely one-sided and anti-Serbian document that we do not have. seen for a long time “.
“It aims to solve a single goal – to destroy any glimmer of understanding, peace and cooperation among the peoples living in Bosnia and Herzegovina,” Nebenzia said, accusing the western nations of the council of trying to dictate how the Bosnians build and rule their country. .
The 1992-95 Bosnian War pitted the country’s Bosnians, Serbs, and ethnic Croats against each other and ended with the United States-sponsored Dayton Peace Agreement that created two regions, the Republika Srpska and the Bosnian-Croatian Federation. The two regions were given broad autonomy, but retained some common institutions, including an army, a higher judicial and fiscal administration, and a rotating presidency between the three ethnic groups.
After the war, more than 60,000 troops deployed across the country to ensure peace. In 2004, the peacekeeping mandate was handed over to the EU and the resolution drafted by France adopted on Wednesday extended the mandate of the now 600-strong force for 12 months.
Ambassadors of the Steering Committee of the Peace Implementation Council, the international body guiding the Bosnian peace process, officially appointed Schmidt as the next high representative on May 27. “And” we have had a very productive relationship with the Office of the High Representative. “
In his report, Schmidt wrote that the prospects for further divisions and conflicts in Bosnia “are very real” if the leader of the Bosnian Serbs, Milorad Dodik, follows through on his threat to withdraw Serbian troops from the Bosnian army and to create a separate Serbian force, which “would end up undermining the state’s ability to function and to discharge its constitutional responsibilities.”
Schmidt, a senior German diplomat, called Dodik’s threatened actions “tantamount to secession without proclaiming it.” He said that they âendangered not only the peace and stability of the country and the region, but – if they were not answered by the international community – could lead to the cancellation of the agreement of Dayton of 1995 which ended the war.
Dodik, the Bosnian Serb member of the presidency, has advocated for years for the separation of the Bosnian Serb mini-state and its integration into Serbia. He recently stepped up his campaign, promising that the Bosnian Serb parliament would declare by the end of November the creation of its own army, fiscal authority and judicial system.
US Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield said Bosnia “faces a critical turning point in its post-war history”.
She called for an end to Dodik’s “heated rhetorics” and agreed with Schmidt’s assessment that Dodik’s speech on the possible withdrawal of Republika Srpska from Bosnia is a “dangerous path” not only for Bosnia but for the wider region of the Western Balkans. She said Dodik’s speech on drafting a new constitution for the Bosnian Serb region “would pose a serious threat” to the Dayton peace accord.
Thomas-Greenfield also called for protecting the role of the High Representative, whose office “serves as the foundation for the stability of the country,” and said there was a need to “reform the elections and the limited constitution” and step up efforts to fight corruption so that Bosnia can “move forward on the EU path”.
The French Ambassador to the UN, Nicolas De RiviÃ¨re, condemned “all forms of questioning of the territorial integrity and the existence of Bosnia and Herzegovina as a State”, supported the role the High Representative and called on the country’s political leaders to overcome their divisions and move forward towards EU membership,