MEP Viola von Cramon-Taubadel said on Monday that Kosovo and Republika Srpska (RS), the semi-autonomous Serb-dominated entity in Bosnia and Herzegovina, should not be compared or linked in any way.
Commenting on some regional officials’ statements comparing the status of Kosovo and RS, Von Cramon told Al Jazeera that those were separate issues and that the European Union dealt separately with Bosnia and Herzegovina and the dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina.
She said she would not speculate about RS being some barter for Serbia’s concession to Kosovo.
“We need these countries to turn to their democratisation, peaceful resolution of internal issues and full implementation of reforms related to the EU, and not to constantly creating tensions and nationalism,” Von Cramon, also the European Parliament (EP) rapporteur for Kosovo, said.
She added that the Western Balkans was not a better place nowadays, nor was it closer to the EU despite Brussels’ efforts “to bring that region to the European club as soon as possible.”
“The current crisis reminds us in the EU how important the Western Balkans region is for overall European security and stability. The region has many issues, but two are the structural dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina and Bosnia and Herzegovina,” Von Cramon said.
“Both issues have attracted a lot of attention, with the recent crisis in northern Kosovo and the ongoing institutional crisis in Bosnia and Herzegovina,” she added.
She said that “many are rightly concerned” after the Serb member of the BiH Presidency, Milorad Dodik said he would like RS to secede from BiH and concrete steps he has taken to withdraw the entity from Bosnia and Herzegovina’s institutional framework.
“It is simply unacceptable and jeopardises all the progress that has been made in the post-war period. Bosnia and Herzegovina is still very fragile, yet complex, and we are closely monitoring the situation there, seeking a strong European response, i.e., sanctions for all those who undermine the country’s sovereignty, strengthen EUFOR on the ground and stop Croatia and Serbia from interfering in internal affairs of Bosnia and Herzegovina,” Von Cramon, a representative of the German’s Green party in the EP.
Asked if the EU High Commissioner for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell responded to her call for restrictive measures on those parties violating the Dayton Agreement, she said that “unfortunately, few in the EU are ready to impose sanctions immediately” either against Dodik or to reduce funding through IPA III.
“You are all aware that within the EU, we must make some decisions unanimously, and this is one of them. However, the Greens in the EP and I will continue to advocate tangible actions in the region because only that can give some concrete results and prevent Milorad Dodik, President of the Croat Democratic Union of BiH Dragan Covic and others from creating even more chaos,” Von Cramon said.
She also said that the extension of the mandate of the EU mission in BiH (EUFOR) is “vital for the architecture security” of the country.
“Not only is EUFOR needed, but it is also a further reinforcement because that is the only way to guarantee that our capabilities on the ground are ready for any scenario,” Von Cramon said.
She added that BiH has many friends across the West and should not allow itself to become “another playground for Russian, Turkish or any other foreign influence offering autocratic models”.