Bosnia's NATO Hopes Fade Ahead of Summit

Balkan Insight
Publication date: 
Jun 21 2016

Bosnia's NATO Membership Action Plan, MAP, is not likely to be activated at the next Alliance summit in Warsaw on July 8 and 9, given its failure to adopt key reforms which were set as a key condition for membership, Ines Kuburovic, the spokesperson of the NATO headquarters in Sarajevo, told BIRN on Monday.

"The MAP for Bosnia and Herzegovina will not be activated at the next NATO Summit in Warsaw... since the condition [set for its activation at the 2010 NATO summit in Tallinn] has not been met," Kuburovic said.

However, Kuburovic noted that Bosnia will probably be commended "for the progress made, particularly for its participation in peace support operations and registration of defence properties".

NATO foreign ministers invited Bosnia to join the MAP, a program of advice, assistance and practical support for countries wishing to join the alliance, in 2010 in Tallinn, Estonia.

Activation of the MAP, however, was conditioned on registration of military property - which is currently under the authority of the two Bosnian entities - at state level.

"The only requirement was that Bosnia and Herzegovina first registers as state-owned the properties necessary for future defence," Kuburovic said, noting that "this intentionally was a low bar that BiH officials actually offered to NATO as something they could quickly achieve."

However, six years later, progress towards the “Tallinn Condition” as it is known, is stalled: only 21 of 63 properties have been fully registered, Kuburovic noted.

In recent months, and especially after Bosnia submitted its application to the EU in February, several senior Bosnian officials, including the Croat member of the Bosnian Presidency, Dragan Covic, voiced optimism that NATO MAP would be activated for Bosnia during the Warsaw summit.

This optimistic expectation, however, was dampened by Defence Minister Marina Pendes, who told Bosnian media that Bosnia "shouldn't expect too much" from Warsaw summit.

"We shouldn't expect too much from the Warsaw summit. Bosnian state authorities and the Ministry of defence are interested in creating a functional state through reforms ... the activation of MAP can be obtained even tomorrow, if [NATO] acknowledges that our effort is credible," Pendes said last week.

So far, Bosnia's efforts to become NATO membership have been slowed especially by the opposition of parties from Bosnia's Serb-dominated entity, Republika Srpska.

Denis Hadzovic, a security expert from the Center for Security studies of Sarajevo, said the Bosnian political parties should try to start a serious discussion on the topic.

“The perspective of NATO integration is stated in all key documents about our country; but so far, we have just seen a lot of media statements coming from different politicians … this issue was never properly discussed in our institutions,” Hadzovic noted.

Reaching a compromise on the NATO integration of Bosnia is necessary, as the country is currently unable to properly address security menaces alone, Hadzovic said.

“It's essential for Bosnia to be part of an international coalition for its security … in order not to become the future victim of some kind of game between bigger international powers”, he concluded.

 Rodolfo Toe