Blog AnalysisBalkansReport

Bosnia. Security situation 'calm', says Althea

(BRUSSELS2) The quarterly report of European soldiers deployed in Bosnia-Herzegovina (operation EUFOR Althea) demonstrates the low risk in military matters in recent months (this report covers the period from September to November). Difficulties remain, however, at the political and economic levels as well, and in the structure of the State, notes the head of operation.

Calm situation despite economic deterioration and nationalist rhetoric

The general security situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina is “calm and stable throughout the period ". " Although nationalist rhetoric continues, it has no impact on safe and secure environment » (which is the key concept of the Eufor mission in Bosnia). “The economic crisis continues to affect Bosnia and Herzegovina (1) and has led to a number of strikes, mainly in Sarajevo, which is causing some disruption to roads and traffic between cities. All these strikes have a professional framework and goal (NB: not political or ethnic) and can be managed by the law enforcement agencies of Bosnia and Herzegovina, they have no impact on the overall security situation. »

2000 men

EUFOR has around 2000 troops (currently), concentrated in Sarajevo (at Camp Butmir) with Observation and Liaison Teams (OMLTs) deployed throughout Bosnia. On November 19, EUFOR handed over responsibility to the Bosnian authorities for the last of the Joint Military Affairs (JMA): this concerns the control of civilian movements (which ensures the control of the movement of weapons and military equipment). EUFOR continues to provide support to the 1300 JMAs transmitted to the Bosnian authorities (mining clearance, management of ammunition sites, defense companies, etc.). During the period, the Bosnian army and European forces also conducted joint training, including specialized training modules. Senior officers of the Bosnian army participated in (theoretical) Eufor exercises and Bosnian units in tactical exercises. Which, in a way, is a foreshadowing of the Althea II mission.

Persistent stalemate in political matters

Bosnia and Herzegovina has made limited progress on its reform agenda during this period note the authors of the report. " The nationalist, anti-Dayton rhetoric continues. Ethnic and entity agendas continue to take precedence over state interests, slowing down the work of the Council of Ministers and the Parliamentary Assembly of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The five parties in the government coalition are facing an impasse over the appointment of directors of three state agencies whose positions have been vacant for a long time or are coming to an end: the Directorate for European Integration the Indirect Taxation Authority , the Communications Regulatory Agency. Despite everything, a new director of the DEI was appointed in September and a new Minister of Security in November. ».

Limited progress on the march towards Europe

This explains the negative opinion of the European Commission in the progress report of mid-October. On the other hand, the report notes a positive point: “ progress has been made on the visa liberalization roadmap, with Bosnia and Herzegovina fulfilling most of the relevant conditions ". Progress is also limits » for compliance with the obligations required by the board of directors of the Peace Implementation Council (PIC) for the transition of the OHR – the High Representative of the international community – to a Special Representative of the EU. The five objectives and the two conditions set for the transition are far from being fulfilled, moreover
estimated the PIC on November 18 and 19.

(1) Bosnia is hit hard by the economic crisis: significant increase in unemployment, halving of foreign direct investment during the first six months of the year. IMF aid has been triggered.

Extracts from the report

“The security situation is expected to remain stable despite the prospects of continuing political tension.”

“BiH made limited progress on its reform agenda during the reporting period. Nationalist, anti-Dayton rhetoric continued. Ethnic and entity agendas that prevail over the interests of the state also adversely affected the performance of the Council of Ministers and the BiH Parliamentary Assembly.”

“The five-party coalition government at state level and the Council of Ministers faced a deadlock in appointing the directorships of three state agencies that have long been vacant or occupied by incumbents whose terms have expired: the Directorate for European Integration (DEI), the Indirect Taxation Authority (ITA) and the Communications Regulatory Agency (CRA). Despite these delays, a new DEI director was appointed by the Civil Service Agency in September, and a new Minister of Security in November.”

“As a result of the negative political climate, the European Commission concluded in its Progress Report in mid-October that BiH had made only limited progress in addressing key reforms. On a more positive note, progress was achieved on the visa liberalization roadmap with BiH completing most of the relevant conditions.”

“Limited progress was also made on the fulfillment of the outstanding requirements set by the Peace Implementation Council (PIC) Steering Board for the transition from the OHR to the EUSR. (…) As a result of the lack of progress, the PIC Steering Board at its meeting on 18-19 November expressed serious concern with the insufficient progress that BiH authorities had made in delivering the five objectives and two conditions that remain necessary for the closure of the OHR.”

"Economic indicators continue to demonstrate the adverse impact that the global economic crisis is having on BiH, with rising unemployment, and foreign direct investments dropping by more than 50% in the first six months compared to the same period last year. To mitigate the effects of the crisis, the IMF agreed in May to a three-year Stand-by Arrangement worth ?1.2 billion. In November the IMF reviewed BiH's progress in meeting the agreed benchmarks, and made payment of the second tranche conditional on progress made. A positive verdict will hinge, in part, on the Federation government's ability to implement benefit cuts on war veterans and other politically sensitive social categories.

“The overall security situation in BiH remained calm and stable throughout the reporting period. Although nationalistic rhetoric continued, it had no impact on the safe and secure environment. The economic downturn continued to affect BiH, and led to a number of strikes mostly conducted in Sarajevo, which continued to cause disruption to city transportation routes. All of these were professionally and capably handled by BiH law enforcement agencies; and had no impact on the overall security situation.”

“The strength of some 2,000 troops is concentrated in Sarajevo, with liaison and observation teams deployed throughout BiH. EUFOR continued to conduct operations in line with its mandate: providing deterrence; ensuring continued compliance in relation to the responsibilities specified in the General Framework Agreement for Peace, Annexes 1A and 2; and contributing to the maintenance of the safe and secure environment.

“There has been further progress in the area of ​​Joint Military Affairs (JMA): on 19 November, EUFOR handed responsibility to the BiH authorities for the last JMA task, Civilian Movement Control (the Control of Movement of Weapons and Military Equipment). As with other JMA tasks already transferred to the BiH authorities, EUFOR will continue to monitor, mentor and advise in order to enhance the self-sustainability of the BiH capabilities. In this context, EUFOR monitored more than 1,300 different JMA activities by the BiH authorities during the reporting period in the areas of: management of Ammunition and Weapon Storage Sites; Civilian and Military movement of weapons and military equipment; disposal of surplus weapons and ammunition; defense industry factories; and AFBiH demining activities.”

12. During the reporting period, EUFOR and AFBiH continued to conduct combined training in line with the 2009 EUFOR/AFBiH training calendar by including specialized training elements in line with international training requirements and standards. AFBiH senior officers participated in EUFOR Map exercises; and AFBiH units up to company level in EUFOR tactical exercises.

Nicolas Gros Verheyde

Chief editor of the B2 site. Graduated in European law from the University of Paris I Pantheon Sorbonne and listener to the 65th session of the IHEDN (Institut des Hautes Etudes de la Défense Nationale. Journalist since 1989, founded B2 - Bruxelles2 in 2008. EU/NATO correspondent in Brussels for Sud-Ouest (previously West-France and France-Soir).