EUFOR: Changing Bosnia’s Security Arrangements
EUFOR: Changing Bosnia’s Security Arrangements
Table of Contents
  1. Overview
Changing Dynamics in the Western Balkans
Changing Dynamics in the Western Balkans

EUFOR: Changing Bosnia’s Security Arrangements

In a decision hailed by member states of both organisations, NATO announced at its 28-29 June 2004 summit in Istanbul that the Stabilisation Force (SFOR) it leads in Bosnia (BiH) will be replaced by an EU-led peacekeeping force (EUFOR) by the end of 2004.

I. Overview

In a decision hailed by member states of both organisations, NATO announced at its 28-29 June 2004 summit in Istanbul that the Stabilisation Force (SFOR) it leads in Bosnia (BiH) will be replaced by an EU-led peacekeeping force (EUFOR) by the end of 2004. The motives, however, have less to do with the real security situation in that country than with EU eagerness to bolster its credibility as a security actor and U.S. desire to declare at least one of its long-term military deployments successfully over. The handover comes at a time when the broader Balkans region faces increased security challenges.

If the transfer to the EU is not to be judged premature, serious issues must be worked through in advance of the handover. Things have changed in Bosnia and Herzegovina since 1995; the main security challenges now are weapons smuggling, the apprehension of war criminals, extremist religious groups, and border security, rather than the separation of combatants which was the main achievement of the NATO mission. The mandate of EUFOR should reflect that new reality. There need to be clear channels of communication with the other EU operations in Bosnia, in particular the EU Police Mission, and overlap must be avoided with the role of the NATO in-country headquarters or any separate U.S. forces remaining on the basis of a bilateral agreement with BiH.

Uncertainty over Kosovo's final status (due for consideration by the international community in mid-2005), and the difficulties of the jury-rigged state union between Serbia and Montenegro, will continue to generate wishful thinking from extremists, particularly those Serbs who would like to detach the Republika Srpska from Bosnia. Although far-right Radical Party candidate, Tomislav Nikolic, was unsuccessful in the 27 June 2004 presidential election in Serbia, he still gained almost half the votes cast; the size of the nationalist right's popular support indicates that the potential for instability remains.

Sarajevo/Brussels, 29 June 2004

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