29th Jan 2023

US blocks EU peacekeeping mission in Bosnia

Washington believes summer 2004 is too early for EU troops to take over peacekeeping operations in Bosnia-Herzegovina and is blocking NATO moves in that direction, it emerged on Tuesday.

At a meeting of NATO and EU foreign ministers in Madrid, US officials effectively scuppered this plan saying it was "premature" to talk about an EU takeover, citing security reasons and problems with war criminals.

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The EU had hoped to take over the NATO-led stabilisation force 'SFOR' in Bosnia-Herzegovina by 2004 a deadline set in a Franco-British paper that was presented to Brussels in February this year.

NATO secretary general Lord Robertson, however, said the EU plan was under consideration and that there is a need to have a full discussion inside NATO before handing the operation over to the EU.

One UK diplomat told the EUobserver that what had been achieved in Madrid was: "No dates, no logistics and no agreement".

The US move has raised eyebrows and has led to reports of a fresh split between the US and Europe.

There are new differences between Europe and the US, writes the Austrian newspaper Kurier today. However, officials rejected these allegations.

The Financial Times quotes an unnamed European foreign minister - Bosnia is a much bigger challenge for the Europeans, therefore it is strange that the US is rejecting this EU initiative.

The Union had intended to send approximately 12,000 troops to the Balkan country, the same number of NATO soldiers that are currently operating under the SFOR sign in Bosnia-Herzegovina.

US troops make up approximately 15% of the SFOR force.

SFOR operates under a UN mandate and was set up in 1996 following the Dayton peace accords that ended the 3-year long war that claimed 250,000 lives.

The EU has lead the police mission in Bosnia-Herzegovina since January 2003. In March, the EU took over the NATO-led force in Macedonia.

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