Denis Bećirović, a member of the tripartite Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and vice-president of the country’s Social Democratic Party, visited NATO headquarters on Monday, receiving an official welcome from Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg. The visit stirred controversy, as Berćirović cannot represent an official position of the Bosnian presidency without an agreement among its members.
In a press statement on the official NATO website, it was reported that “The Secretary General highlighted that NATO supports Bosnia and Herzegovina’s Euro-Atlantic aspirations and that work is underway to develop a Defence Capacity Building package that will propose projects aimed at strengthening the country’s defence and security capabilities. He said that NATO will continue to provide support to Bosnia and Herzegovina’s defence sector reforms, including through the NATO Headquarters Sarajevo.”
President of the Republika Srpska Milorad Dodik, immediately put out a statement on Twitter, saying “Bosnia and Herzegovina is not going into NATO integration, and that is the well-known position of Republika Srpska.”
Dodik also told the media that, despite the official appearance of the visit, Bećirović was on a private visit to NATO headquarters in Brussels, and none of the statements he made on that occasion represented the official position of the Bosnia and Herzegovina Presidency. “The fact that NATO leaders decided on this format for the meeting, ignoring the fact that a member of the Presidency cannot represent the positions of that body, nor represent BiH if there is no agreement on this, is worrying,” Dodik told the press.
Asked to comment on Bećirović's statements in Brussels, in which he proposed a new approach to the intensification of BiH's NATO integration through a common road map according to which BiH could be invited to join NATO as soon as possible, Dodik made it clear that Bosnia and Herzegovina is not seeking NATO integration, “None of the road maps that Bećirović is talking about have passed the Presidency, nor can they pass. All the news sent from Brussels by the Bosniak member of the Presidency, Denis Bećirović, is probably only relevant for politically like-minded people. This is not good news for BiH,” Dodik added, “at least not while Republika Srpska remains part of it.”