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North Macedonia FM: Bosnia will not 'turn into war'

  • North Macedonia in 2005 was granted status of EU candidate member (Photo: Zlatevska DNEVNIK)
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North Macedonia's minister of foreign affairs Bujar Osmani has said that conflict will not erupt over Bosnia and Herzegovina's possible break-up.

"I don't expect that the happenings of the 90s will happen again in the region," he told EUobserver on Tuesday (11 November). "We are not at that stage that this could turn into a war or conflict," he said, pointing to Nato's presence.

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  • Bujar Osmani (r) with the EU's foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell (Photo: Bujar Osmani)

Albania, Montenegro and North Macedonia are all Nato members.

Warnings of Bosnia's possible break-up were highlighted earlier this month by Christian Schmidt, an international peace envoy.

The threat came as Bosnian Serb leader, Mirolad Dodik, sought to withdraw Republika Srpska, the Serbian entity in the Bosnian federation.

But Osmani said Nato and a regional maturity, due in part, to the European Union perspective, is a guarantee for stability.

"Nato is a guarantee for the political predictability, stability and security," he said.

"This is the fuel that is keeping this engine moving and this glue that is keeping these contradictory narratives together," he added.

He said resolving EU accession issues with North Macedonia and Albania would also provide incentives for Serbia and Kosovo "to follow the path of reconciliation."

"And by then you pave the way to solve the Bosnia issue," he said, adding that the fate of the region hinges on opening negotiations in the so-called intergovernmental conference.

The EU's foreign policy Josep Borrell made similar comments following a meeting of foreign affairs ministers on Monday.

Borrell said the intergovernmental conference for North Macedonia, along with Albania, should be held as soon as possible and by the end of the year.

"Not doing so is negatively impacting the credibility of the [European] Union and the entire region," he said.

Borrell also issued salvos against Bosnia and Herzegovina, demanding the country's leadership resume dialogue and return state institutions to full capacity.

On Tuesday, a spokesperson from the European Commission also pointed out that targeted sanctions had been imposed on Bosnia since 2011.

When questioned about additional sanctions, he told reporters "all options are on the table".

The bid for EU accession

Efforts to kickstart North Macedonia's EU accession talks have derailed over the years, leading to mounting frustrations.

The European Commission says the delay risk jeopardising the EU's standing and leverage in the region - in reference to Russia and China influence.

In June 2018, North Macedonia agreed to change its name, following a longstanding dispute with Greece, which has a region called Macedonia.

The Bulgarians have since chimed in, demanding further concessions on language and ethnicity.

It is unclear if Bulgaria will switch tactics. But a new centrist anti-corruption party in Bulgaria, "We Continue the Change", is poised to win a recent election and help shape a new government.

The Bulgarian election also follows political upheavals in North Macedonia.

Its pro-Western prime minister Zoran Zaev resigned in late October, only to later withdraw his resignation.

Osmani says he hopes the two sides can now focus their energy on resolving the dispute.

"It's in the interest of Bulgaria that this region succeeds," he said.

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