Sarajevo is the first stop on Stoltenberg’s visit to the Western Balkans, during which he will also visit Kosovo, Serbia and North Macedonia.
“Allies strongly support the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Bosnia and Herzegovina,” Stoltenberg told reporters. “We are concerned about separatist and divisive rhetoric, as well as malicious foreign interference, including Russia.”
There are fears that Russia is trying to destabilize Bosnia and the rest of the region and thus divert at least some of the world’s attention from its aggression in Ukraine.
Moscow openly supports pro-Russian Bosnian Serb President Milorad Dodik, who has repeatedly called for the country to be divided and the Serb-controlled part of Bosnia to join neighboring Serbia.
“This threatens stability and hinders reforms,” Stoltenberg said. “All political leaders must work to maintain unity, build state institutions and achieve reconciliation. This is very important for the stability and security of the country.”
NATO was of great importance in 1992-1995. in ending the Bosnian war in 2010 and implementing a US-sponsored peace plan that roughly divided the country into two highly autonomous regions, one controlled by Bosnian Serbs and the other by Muslims and Croats.
“NATO has been supporting Bosnia and Herzegovina for years,” Stoltenberg said. “Your security is important for the Western Balkans region and for Europe.”
For years, the Bosnian Serb leadership has blocked Sarajevo’s bid to join NATO, which Russia also opposes.
Stoltenberg said this should stop.
“Each country has the right to choose its own security measures without foreign interference,” he said.
Tags: NATO concerned Russias malicious intervention Bosnia