EU top military official voices support for Bosnia’s joint forces
EU vocal support comes as secessionist Bosnian Serb leader Milorad Dodik threatens to recreate Serb army.
The European Union’s top military official has voiced support for the unified Bosnian armed forces on Thursday, after Serb leader Milorad Dodik had threatened to pull the Serb component out of the forces and form an exclusively Serb army within Bosnia.
The formation of the country’s joint armed forces (OSBiH), incorporating Serb, Croat and Bosniak components that fought each other in a 1990s war, has been praised as the greatest achievement since the conflict, in which about 100,000 died.
The 1995 Dayton peace accords split Bosnia along ethnic lines into two highly autonomous regions, the Serb-run Republika Srpska and the Federation shared by Croats and Bosniaks, linked via a weak central government that has been strengthened during the years in order for the state to be functional.
But Dodik, a secessionist Serb leader supported by Russia and dissatisfied by the rulings of international peace envoys and the constitutional court, has made it clear he wants to pull out of state institutions including the armed forces.
Claudio Graziano, the chairman of the EU Military Committee, said his visit aimed to show the great importance that the 27-member bloc attaches to the unity of Bosnia.
“I bring a message from all the 27 that there is support for the armed forces,” Graziano told a news conference on Thursday.
Senad Masovic, the head of the OSBiH joint headquarters, said the armed forces are the only legal and legitimate military force in the whole territory of Bosnia, under the defence law passed by the national parliament.
“Anything else will be regarded as a paramilitary organisation,” Masovic said.