After a year-long quarrel between Bosnia’s political leaders over whether the country should be advancing on its path toward NATO membership, the Chairman of the tripartite Presidency said on Friday that Bosnia is, after all, moving forward and that being part of the Alliance will ensure Bosnians security and prosperity.
Zeljko Komsic said this in his speech he held at a ceremony that was marking the 14th anniversary of the forming of Bosnia’s Armed Forces - an army that was at the time it was put together made up of soldiers who shot at each other during the country’s 1992-95 war.
The reform that melted the three warring factions together into one state army was the most successful project in post-war Bosnia which not very many at the time believed was possible.
“The Armed Forces of Bosnia and Herzegovina are, without a doubt, the better part of our society and an indicator that reforms in Bosnia can be implemented successfully,” Komsic said at the ceremony.
“The primary purpose of the existence of the Armed Forces of Bosnia and Herzegovina is to protect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of our country. That is also the elementary prerequisite for the integration of the state in wider defence and security systems, such as NATO, under whose auspices, yet still relying on our forces, we can not only be safe but also prosperous as a state and society,” he said.
Bosnia had to submit an annual national defence program to NATO as one of the preconditions for the activation of the NATO Membership Action Program - a step toward membership. But the country’s Bosnian Serb leader and Presidency member Milorad Dodik has been vehemently against the country’s membership in the Alliance altogether.
However, his Bosniak and Bosnian Croat colleagues insisted on sending the document.
The country did not have a government for a whole year after elections because of this quarrel.
Negotiations finally ended with a recent agreement which the opposing sides interpret differently.
Citizens still do not know whether the agreement was moving the country toward membership or whether it has blocked that path completely.
In his speech, Komsic, who advocated membership, praised the Armed Forces for participating in various international peace missions and in this way “contributing to setting up and maintaining peace throughout the world.”
“At this same place last year, at the 13th anniversary of the forming of Bosnia’s Armed Forces, we spoke about the need to meet the conditions for the NATO Membership Action Plan (MAP),” he said. "A year later, we can happily say that Bosnia and Herzegovina is since December 5, 2018, within the MAP and is, in accordance with a decision by Bosnia’s Presidency, sending an annual Reform Programme to NATO which will give a new dynamic to the continuation of the NATO integration process.”
“The process we have waited years for is now unblocked, and that is surely additional encouragement for all members of Bosnia’s Armed Forces and all of the citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina,” Komsic said.