The increased presence of the European Union peacekeeping force (EUFOR) in Bosnia and Herzegovina should not be given special attention because there is no possibility of the situation there escalating into an armed conflict, Croatian President Zoran Milanovic said on Tuesday.
Last week, the EU increased its military presence in Bosnia and Herzegovina from 600 to 1,100 personnel by sending reserves from Austria, Bulgaria, Romania and Slovakia to prevent potential instability there following the Russian invasion of Ukraine. On Saturday, France announced training flights over Bosnia and Herzegovina in light of the deteriorated international security situation.
“That is an increased presence over tensions and horrors of war, but I do not attach particular importance to it. I think there is no way the situation will escalate into an armed conflict,” Milanovic said, adding that the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina cannot be compared to that in Ukraine because “there are no troops, no tanks” in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Commenting on the discussion in the European Parliament on the proposal to impose sanctions on the Serb member of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s presidency, Milorad Dodik, over corruption and threats against stability in the country, Milanovic said he did not like campaigns “usually mounted by true cowards”.
Dodik “is a representative of the Serb people in Bosnia and Herzegovina. To some he is a monster, but not to me. To me he is an interlocutor,” the Croatian president said.
Speaking of Dodik’s calls for the secession of the Republika Srpska entity from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Milanovic said that “political rhetoric” is one thing, while the actual goal is another.
“Are the ideas of a third entity in Bosnia and Herzegovina destruction of that country or a negotiating tactic to get back the rights that have been taken away?” he asked. “As long as there is no violence, and there is none, Dodik is an interlocutor to me.”
Milanovic said that the same was true for Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic, in a situation where Serbia “is deciding” between the West and Russia. “They support Russia, fine, it’s their business,” he said, noting that “Ukraine did not recognise Kosovo and it condemned NATO’s attack on Serbia in the late 1990s.”