Bosnia to make step to­ward join­ing NATO

Kenora Daily Miner and News - - WORLD NEWS - LORNE COOK The As­so­ci­ated Press

BRUS­SELS—Bosnia Herze­gov­ina is likely to take a ma­jor step this week in its am­bi­tion to join NATO, the mil­i­tary al­liance’s Secretary Gen­eral Jens Stoltenberg said Mon­day.

NATO for­eign min­is­ters are ex­pected Wed­nes­day to ac­ti­vate Bosnia’s Mem­ber­ship Ac­tion Plan (MAP), a re­form process that pre­pares coun­tries for mem­ber­ship. Even though the route to fu­ture mem­ber­ship would be­come clearer for Bosnia, the Balkan coun­try is un­likely to join NATO soon.

Stoltenberg said that he ex­pects the min­is­ters, meet­ing in Brus­sels, to sig­nal that “we are ready to re­ceive the first an­nual na­tional pro­gram” from the eth­nic ally di­vided coun­try, which was riven by war in the 1990s when the for­mer Yu­goslavia broke apart.

“Then it’s up to Bosnia-Herze­gov­ina to de­cide whether they use this op­por­tu­nity,” Stoltenberg added.

The an­tic­i­pated move comes eight years af­ter NATO of­fered a MAP to Bosnia. How­ever, it de­clined to “ac­ti­vate” it un­til all con­di­tions were met with the process held up over the reg­is­tra­tion of defence prop­erty such as mil­i­tary bar­racks and build­ings used by the defence min­istry. Reg­is­tra­tion is meant to be made at the na­tional level, but one of the three en­ti­ties that make up mod­ern Bosnia — the eth­nic Serb Repub­lika Srp­ska backed by Bel­grade — re­fuses out­right to do so.

Rather than al­low the Bosnian Serbs to have a de-facto veto over the mem­ber­ship ac­tion plan, NATO al­lies have de­cided to move for­ward re­gard­less, even though the prop­erty must still be reg­is­tered at fed­eral level for the MAP process to con­clude.

They also see it as a sign of sup­port in the wake of the Oct. 7 gen­eral elec­tion, which led to na­tion­al­ist politi­cians dom­i­nat­ing Bosnia’s three­mem­ber pres­i­dency; an in­sti­tu­tion which wields little for­mal power but that is meant to help heal eth­nic wounds.

Bosnian Croat Zeljko Kom­sic said af­ter his in­au­gu­ra­tion that Bosnia should join NATO, while pro-Rus­sian Bosnian Serb leader Milo­rad Dodik in­sisted that the coun­try should re­main neu­tral.

FRAN­CISCO SECO/THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

NATO Secretary-Gen­eral Jens Stoltenberg says Bos­ni­aHerze­gov­ina is likely to be­gin the process to join NATO on Wed­nes­day, de­spite some op­po­si­tion.

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