22nd Jan 2018

EU to cut Bosnia troops despite Kosovo worries

  • EU troops in Bosnia - France warned that the union should stay on alert after any pull-out (Photo: Nato)

EU member states are likely to begin reducing troops in Bosnia and Herzegovina early next year, despite potential instability stemming from talks on the future status of nearby Kosovo.

"The start the transition towards a reduction of the level of forces [should be] taken in December, but the actual implementation of the transition [should start] in February," EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana said.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

The remarks, given at a meeting of EU defence ministers in Brussels on Monday (13 November) come after Germany and the UK last month announced they would like to reduce the number of soldiers in the region next year.

The EU has kept around 7,000 soldiers in Bosnia since December 2004, after it took over NATO's security mission in a country which saw some of the bloodiest fighting in the 1990's Balkan wars.

The task of the EU's force in Bosnia - EUFOR - is to "ensure continued compliance with the Dayton/Paris [peace] Agreement and to contribute to a safe and secure environment in Bosnia and Herzegovina."

The 1995 Dayton/Paris peace agreement put an end to a three and a half years of war in the country.

Security assessment needed

Mr Solana said that the final plans "would be based on the fact that the security situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina allows this and that the capacity of the [Bosnian] authorities to deal with threats to security has increased."

But the EU's public plan to downsize in Bosnia comes at a time of potential instability in the region, with the UN security council expected to rule on the final status of nearby Kosovo - a UN-administered part of Serbia - in the first half of 2007.

French defence minister Michele Alliot-Marie urged caution, telling reporters that EU withdrawal from Bosnia should be made only "on the condition that we [the EU] maintain the ability to return in force quickly if the region, especially Kosovo, becomes unstable".

Western diplomats fear that if the UN gives Kosovo some form of independence - as is widely expected - it could spark trouble in Bosnia's semi-autonomous Republika Srpska region, where the ethnic-Serb population has also called for sovereignty.

Kosovo status delayed

Meanwhile, EU foreign ministers also meeting in Brussels on Monday welcomed the UN's decision to delay its recommendation on the future status of Kosovo in order to avoid enflaming tension ahead of Serbia's 21 January elections.

Ministers endorsed a decision by top UN envoy Marti Ahtisaari to present to his Kosovo proposals after January, with Mr Solana saying the pause would "give a see if a strong democratic government may come out in Serbia."

UN-led negotiations on Kosovo's future status between Belgrade and Pristina have not led to any accord so far, with the UN security council facing the prospect of settling the Kosovo status from above.

But not all EU member states are happy with Kosovo independence despite UK and US pressure for the move, with Spain fearing it could serve as a precedent for its own semi-autonomous Basque region.

EU worries remain

"Even conditional independence for Kosovo is unnaceptable," Spanish EU affairs minister Alberto Navarro said after Monday's meeting.

Meanwhile, enlargement commissioner Olli Rehn warned that "It's important at the same this [Kosovo status] should not be delayed much longer [after January 2007], because we can not leave Kosovo in limbo for a long time."

His comment comes after Kosovo's ethnic-Albanian prime minister Agim Ceku warned that if the UN does not proclaim independence next year, then local institutions will do it themselves.

EU ushers Macedonia to come closer

The European commission has said it would restore full-throated support for Macedonia to start accession talks if it kept up reform.

News in Brief

  1. Germany confirms attendance at air quality summit
  2. Nearly half of 'fixed' Dieselgate cars show problems
  3. YouTube, Twitter, Facebook up hate speech deletion
  4. UK mulls bridge to France
  5. German far-right float anti-asylum bill
  6. EU Parliament to investigate glyphosate-decision process
  7. 'Mutagenesis' falls outside EU's GMO rules, says EU top lawyer
  8. Decision on Polish MEP's Nazi-era slur postponed

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Solutions for Sustainable Cities: New Grants Awarded for Branding Projects
  2. Mission of China to the EUTrade Between China, Belt and Road Countries up 15%
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersOresund Inspires Other EU Border Regions to Work Together to Generate Growth
  4. Mission of China to the EUTrade Between China, Belt and Road Countries up 15%
  5. AJC Transatlantic InstituteAJC Calls on EU to Sanction Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, Expel Ambassadors
  6. Dialogue PlatformRoundtable on "Political Islam, Civil Islam and The West" 31 January
  7. ILGA EuropeFreedom of Movement and Same-Sex Couples in Romania – Case Update!
  8. EU2017EEEstonia Completes First EU Presidency, Introduced New Topics to the Agenda
  9. Bio-Based IndustriesLeading the Transition Towards a Post-Petroleum Society
  10. ACCAWelcomes the Start of the New Bulgarian Presidency
  11. Mission of China to the EUPremier Li and President Tusk Stress Importance of Ties at ASEM Summit
  12. EU2017EEVAT on Electronic Commerce: New Rules Adopted

Latest News

  1. Middle East, Messi and missing MEPs on the agenda This WEEK
  2. Instagram and Google Plus join EU anti-hate speech drive
  3. EU wants 'entrepreneurship' in education systems
  4. UK loses EU satellite centre to Spain
  5. Pay into EU budget for market access, Macron tells May
  6. Ethiopian regime to get EU migrants' names
  7. EU to lend Greece up to €7bn more next week
  8. Nato prepares to take in Macedonia

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Jewish CongressChair of EU Parliament Working Group on Antisemitism Condemns Wave of Attacks
  2. Counter BalanceA New Study Challenges the Infrastructure Mega Corridors Agenda
  3. Dialogue PlatformThe Gülen Community: Who to Believe - Politicians or Actions?" by Thomas Michel
  4. Plastics Recyclers Europe65% Plastics Recycling Rate Attainable by 2025 New Study Shows
  5. European Heart NetworkCommissioner Andriukaitis' Address to EHN on the Occasion of Its 25th Anniversary
  6. ACCACFOs Risk Losing Relevance If They Do Not Embrace Technology
  7. UNICEFMake the Digital World Safer for Children & Increase Access for the Most Disadvantaged
  8. European Jewish CongressWelcomes Recognition of Jerusalem as the Capital of Israel and Calls on EU States to Follow Suit
  9. Mission of China to the EUChina and EU Boost Innovation Cooperation Under Horizon 2020
  10. European Gaming & Betting AssociationJuncker’s "Political" Commission Leaves Gambling Reforms to the Court
  11. AJC Transatlantic InstituteAJC Applauds U.S. Recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s Capital City
  12. EU2017EEEU Telecom Ministers Reached an Agreement on the 5G Roadmap