NATO is working on finding a solution to a possible Russian UN Security Council veto to the EUFOR Althea peace-keeping mission in Bosnia, NATO Military Committee Chair, Admiral Rob Bauer, told N1 Tuesday, adding that NATO is working on strengthening BiH's resilience and ensuring that BiH Armed Forces move forward towards developing their capabilities and operational readiness.
“We are working on reaching a new resolution of the UN Security Council to continue the Althea operation, where we support through the Butmir camp, and of course the NATO headquarters in Sarajevo,” he said.
N1 asked how certain was the possibility that Russia would veto the extension of the Althea mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina?
“I’m not sure that there will be a Russian veto. Again, we all want the situation to continue as it is, to allow EUFOR Althea to help BiH in its security and prosperity, and we should focus on that,” Bauer said.
When asked to assess the Russian threats to BiH in case it joins NATO and how it could hurt the country, he responds that there are sufficient indications that there are destabilizing activities in countries such as Bosnia and Herzegovina, Moldova and Georgia.
“Actually, there are statements such as those of the Russian Embassy in BiH, so there are destabilizing activities. NATO's efforts are aimed at strengthening BiH's resilience and actually ensuring that the Armed Forces move forward to develop their capabilities and operational program of their readiness… This is the package that was promised during the summit in Madrid and we will continue to do so. This is based on the continuation of aid to BiH,” Bauer noted.
He believes that everyone he talked to Tuesday was in favour of BiH's path towards the NATO alliance.
BiH Presidency member Milorad Dodik was not at the meeting, but his representative was, and Bauer said that he was not specific, but moderate. The Admiral repeated that BiH is a partner, has the Membership Action Plan (MAP) for NATO status, and that both sides are working together to make strides and move forward in that process.
War in Ukraine and reflections to BiH
He commented on the statement of Sergey Lavrov, the Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs, that “if BiH moves towards the NATO alliance, Moscow will have to react.”
“For NATO, these are just statements and there is no evidence that there will be such activities. Of course, when such a statement is made, you have to be worried but I say again there are no indications that there are any preparations related to these threats. NATO will continue to provide support to BiH, to build its resilience and increase it in terms of cyber defense, and this will enable the state to properly respond to any potential threat,” the Admiral said.
Asked about the danger that the war in Ukraine spreads to the Balkans the Admiral said Russia is focused on Ukraine.
“The Russian Federation is busy in Ukraine and they have to focus on that. I wouldn't say that the right indicators to do it in BiH don’t exist,” NATO Admiral Rob Bauer concluded.