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Euforia over Bosnia

Posted by Helen Sunday, October 24, 2004

On December 2 a European Union force (Eufor) is scheduled to take over peace-keeping duties in Bosnia from the NATO stabilization force (Sfor). Although a NATO headquarters will reman in Bosnia under the current commander General Steven Schook and, although about eighty per cent of the Eufor troops will be the same as Sfor with different caps and badges, assuming they do not get too confused, the event is greeted as one of extraordinary significance.

Lord Ashdown, former Lib-Dem leader and present Lord High Everything Else in Bosnia, sounded ecstatic:

"For Bosnia, it marks a milestone on the route from war towards peace stabilisation and eventually joining the European Union."
How nice. Can the Bosnians afford to join the European Union?

Lord Ashdown also thought this was very important for that ever elusive entity the common foreign and security policy:

"It's the biggest, most important realisation of the Common European Foreign and Security policy. It has to succeed because, upon this, the whole of the rest of the policy will be based.

"We've got to show we have the capacity to do hard defence, that we can provide the troops, the command and the decision making process to cope with the security situation. The future depends on success here."
This is the sort of nonsense that Lord Ashdown is rightly famous for. Taking over peacekeeping duties, with existing NATO backing and resources is not a policy. As Eufor’s job will be stabilization, introduction of defence reform and the long-delayed apprehension of the main war criminals and, as the remnants of NATO will be doing exactly the same, the question does arise as to why these two separate entities are needed. The answer, of course, lies in Lord Ashdown’s excited comments about the CFSP and Bosnia’s potential membership of the EU. All these convoluted developments are needed in order to create a foreign policy for the Union and to extend its sway further into the Balkans. Remember those forty member states?

The arrival of Eufor has excited mixed feelings among Bosnians. They are well aware that back in the early nineties the EU was experimenting with constructing a common foreign policy, whose view on the former Yugoslavia was that it should be kept together at whatever cost. They not only did not intervene to try to stop the fighting, massacres and destuction that was going on, but actually imposed an arms embargo that favoured Serbia under its bullying government.

When the UN moved in, the situation in some ways became worse, with UN troops and officials becoming ready targets for hostage taking. Nor did the UN ever really work out what it was there for. The whole scandalous episode ended with the Srebrenice massacre.

Eventually, after a great deal of huffing and puffing on the part of the EU, NATO, led by the Americans moved in and imposed a kind of a solution. Understandably, many Bosnians are not too keen to see the organization they have some reason to be grateful to being replaced by one they are exremely suspicious of.