International Information Centre for Balkan Studies

DPC: Dodik not deterred by sanctions, EUFOR/NATO in BiH should be reinforced

October 14, 2021

Bosnian Serb Presidency member Milorad Dodik’s escalating challenge to Bosnia’s statehood and territorial integrity by threatening to call on his “friends” if NATO “intervenes” in the Serb-dominated Republika Srpska (RS) entity is the result of a foreseen deterrence failure on the part of the EU and NATO, the Democratization Policy Council (DPC) concluded Thursday.

“Of course, EUFOR BiH, the European peace-keeping force in the country, backed by NATO – has the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) Chapter 7 mandate under Dayton’s Annex 1A to ensure a ‘safe and secure environment’ throughout BiH,” the Council tweeted, adding that both “EUFOR and NATO HQ in Sarajevo are both authorized under that mandate, which comes up for renewal in the UNSC next month. A veto by Russia and perhaps #China was foreshadowed last July.”

The Council members argue that it was quite clear that sanctions alone are not deterring Dodik. Nor did EUFOR’s Quick Response military exercise. The question has never been about the NATO / EU capability, but will, they said, adding that years of appeasement, current policy priorities in BiH, the Balkans, and globally have all called this into question.

“It is imperative that the standing EUFOR BiH force be reinforced by NATO (and other EU member states) NOW to underscore that BiH’s territorial integrity – and security for all its citizens – will be defended. This is a question of first-mover advantage. Dodik is trying to invert deterrence: deterring NATO/ EUFOR from operating throughout BiH – and prevent action to ensure deterrence beyond a veto by Russia,” the Council wrote, warning that this also happens to assist ‘Dodik’s ally, the leader of the Croat Democratic Union (HDZ BiH) Dragan Covic.

“It cannot be stated enough that forestalling such a foreseen challenge as today posed by Dodik should have been the international priority, while they have chased the white whale of electoral reform in response to Dragan Covic and Dodik’s joint blackmail. Statements have long since ceased to be enough. Action is needed with a rapid investment of NATO and EU member state forces to demonstrate resolve to defend BiH’s internal security and integrity,” warned the initiative for accountable democratization policy worldwide.

According to them, this is not only a moral but legal obligation undertaken by the EU and the Alliance recalling that they warned last month – and for years – about this vulnerability.

Dodik said Wednesday night that Republika Srpska is prepared to defend itself in case of a potential armed conflict in Bosnia and Herzegovina and would ask its “friends” to protect them in such a scenario.

“If that is necessary, we will defend ourselves with our own forces. If it happens that they say NATO will intervene, we will ask our friends – who told us clear and loud they never abandon their friends – to help us,” he told public broadcaster RTRS, without specifying who the friends are.

Source:  https://ba.n1info.com/english/news/dpc-dodik-not-deterred-by-sanctions-eufor-nato-in-bih-should-be-reinforced/

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