NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg visited Bosnia and Herzegovina and warned of threats to the country’s stability, including secessionist rhetoric and Russian influence. Stoltenberg’s visit was prompted by the threatening disintegration of the country by Bosnian Serb leader Milorad Dodik, and increasing ties with Moscow. Stoltenberg met with key government officials, including the chairwoman of the country’s Council of Ministers, Borjana Krišta, and the ministers of foreign affairs and defense, Elmedin Konaković and Zukan Helez.
Stoltenberg emphasized NATO’s support for the territorial integrity of Bosnia and Herzegovina and expressed concern about secessionist and divisive rhetoric, as well as external influences, particularly from Russia. He reiterated NATO’s commitment to the region and plans to deepen cooperation through political dialogue and practical support, including aid for the military mission “Althea” led by the European Union. Stoltenberg also expressed support for efforts to improve Bosnia and Herzegovina’s defense capacities and its Euro-Atlantic path, while emphasizing that the final decisions and responsibility rest with Bosnia and Herzegovina’s politicians.
Krišta noted that cooperation with NATO is an opportunity to strengthen security and defense capacities to effectively respond to existing threats. She thanked Stoltenberg for NATO’s aid package worth around 50 million euros through nine different projects. However, she acknowledged the need for political consensus within the country and dialogue to reach a decision about joining NATO.
Bosnia and Herzegovina has an approved Action Plan for Membership (MAP) since 2019, which includes the adoption of annual reform plans, but has not yet been adopted for 2023 due to internal political divisions. The differing opinions among the members of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina, with respect to joining NATO, reflect the deep divisions within the country on this issue.
Ultimately, Stoltenberg’s visit to Bosnia and Herzegovina underscored the complex political landscape and the challenges facing the country as it navigates its Euro-Atlantic path amidst internal and external pressures.