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25th Jul 2021

US rejects Slovenia-linked plan to break up Bosnia

  • Slovenian prime minister Janez Janša (l) and EU Council president Charles Michel (Photo: consilium.europa.eu)

The US has said it is against the break-up of Bosnia, following a radical proposal widely attributed to incoming EU presidency Slovenia.

"The United States deeply values its longstanding partnership with Bosnia and Herzegovina. We support its sovereignty and territorial integrity, respect for which was enshrined in the Dayton Peace Accords," a state department spokesperson said on Thursday (15 April), referring to a 1995 peace deal which ended a bloody ethnic conflict.

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The Croatian foreign minister, Grlić Radman, said the same one day earlier.

The comments arose after an informal policy paper, which came to light earlier this week, proposed an EU-led campaign to carve up the federation.

Its majority-ethnic Serb parts should join Serbia, its Croatian parts should join Croatia, and its rump would become an independent state for Bosniaks (Bosnian Muslims), the policy paper said.

Kosovo should also join with Albania to create another new country, the paper, which was sent to EU Council president Charles Michel in February, added.

There is little doubt in diplomatic circles that Slovenia's populist prime minister, Janez Janša, who takes over the symbolic EU presidency in July, was behind it.

This is what Bosnia believes, after it summoned Slovenia's ambassador to Sarajevo to complain earlier this week.

This is what US diplomats believe, speaking off the record.

And this is what EU diplomats told Slovenian daily

Necenzurirano.si, which published the informal paper in its entirety.

But for his part, the usually pugnacious Janša is keeping quiet - neither conforming nor denying the reports - amid the negative reactions.

In the past, he called two women journalists he did not like "worn-out prostitutes" in an infamous tweet.

In late March, he also called two MEPs he did not like "overpaid bureaucrats who were born into prosperity" and likened them to the late Serbian dictator Slobodan Milošević.

But when asked by EUobserver if he sent the paper to Brussels, his staff replied: "The office of the prime minister of the Republic of Slovenia does not further comment the topic on the so-called 'non-paper' document about the Western Balkans".

His EU embassy also declined to comment.

But with Brussels bracing itself for six months of potential controversy under Janša's presidency, a Slovenian spokesman tried to calm tension.

Redrawing borders on ethnic lines in the Western Balkans is widely seen as a recipe for renewed instability.

But the Slovenian spokesman said: "I can tell you that one of the main themes [of the presidency] will be a secure European Union, a good and reliable partner in the neighbourhood and in the world".

"The Slovenian presidency will dedicate particular attention to the Western Balkans and lead the Council of the EU in the direction of continuing the process of EU enlargement with the countries of the region," he added.

EU institutions brace for impact of Slovenia's Janša

The Slovenian prime minister recently lashed out against both journalists and MEPs. His country will soon take over the presidency. In Brussels, there is concern - but also faith that Janez Janša cannot have much impact on the EU machinery.

EU condemns Slovenian PM's harassment of journalist

Slovenia's populist prime minister Janez Janša attempted to discredit a Brussels reporter after she published a critical article about the state of media freedoms in the country. The European Commission condemned the PM's language - but refrained from naming him.

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Some 25 percent of Slovenians have voted for the anti-immigrant Slovenia Democratic party headed by Janez Jansa, a former PM who spent six months in jail for corruption.

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Slovenia formally assumed the six-month rotating presidency of the European Council on Thursday (1 July) - amid criticism against its right-wing prime minister Janez Janša for allegadly undermining the rule of law and democratic values in the EU.

Opinion

The 'non-paper' carving up Balkans and undermining Europe

In spite of all the denials, it seems clear the non-paper "Western Balkans – a way forward" – which explicitly proposes the redrawing of borders in the region according to ethno-national/territorial groupings – exists, though its origins remain in doubt.

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