Bosnia and Herzegovina’s Obstacle to the EU

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It is known that the Western Balkans have come to the fore in the enlargement policies of the European Union (EU) in the recent period. In this context, the Union is in various contacts with the states of the region. One of these states is Bosnia and Herzegovina. As a matter of fact, the EU  integration process of the Sarajevo administration  continues. However, it is not possible to say that this process proceeded smoothly.

Especially after the Russian-Ukrainian War, the security concerns of the states of the region have increased. In this context, Bosnia and Herzegovina is also in contact with both the EU and the United States of America (USA) to improve  its cooperation. In particular, the negotiations with the EU are considered to have contributed to the political situation of the country. At this point, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) is also  on the agenda  as a critical actor that comes to the forefront.

It can be stated that concerns about Russia’s influence were decisive in the EU’s focus on the region in question. It is believed that the Moscow administration seeks to increase its influence over the Serbian population by utilizing pan-Slavism. In contrast, Bosnia and Herzegovina, which is focused on integration with the EU, is also increasing its contacts with the OSCE. In fact, Bosnian officials emphasize the importance of the OSCE in their statements regarding the war in Ukraine.[1]

Furthermore, due to the aforementioned security concerns, Bosnia and Herzegovina has also participated in the EU Military Committee Meeting. During this summit, the importance of global security was emphasized, and the significance of actors enhancing their defense capabilities was highlighted. However, Bosnia and Herzegovina’s steps in the security context are not limited to this. Sarajevo, in fact, has intensified its contacts with the Washington administration. In this regard, Bosnia and Herzegovina is preparing to procure helicopters from the United States.[2] This also indicates an increase in military cooperation between the parties. However, it should be noted that this policy has drawn the reaction of Milorad Dodik, the leader of the Republic of Srpska in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Dodik is already known as a figure close to Russia.

Another indication of the West’s growing interest in Bosnia and Herzegovina is the announcement of the visit of European Commissioner for Enlargement, Oliver Varhlyi, to Sarajevo. It is believed that during this visit, the issue of limiting Russia’s influence and addressing the growing radicalization will be discussed. Bosnian High Representative, Christian Schmidt, has already made statements in this regard.[3]

Although there have been positive developments in the integration process between the parties, there are also serious difficulties. For example, Dodik’s attitude is obvious. Indeed, Schmidt states that Dodik’s separatist tendencies have harmed the healthy implementation of the Dayton Agreement.[4] It can be said that this has also made Sarajevo’s journey to the EU more difficult. On the other hand, it can be stated that despite all the difficulties, Bosnia and Herzegovina has taken important steps towards EU membership and is willing to do so.

In conclusion, the Russia-Ukraine War has directed Balkan countries towards the West in the context of Russian expansionism, there by increasing the interest of the West, particularly the EU, in the region. In this regard, Bosnia and Herzegovina also values the EU integration process. However, the attitudes and separatist tendencies of Bosnian Serbs, particularly Dodik, make Sarajevo’s journey to Brussels more challenging.

[1] “BiH Foreign Minister met with the OSCE Chairman”, Sarajevo Times,, (Date of Accession: 12.05.2023).

[2] “The Armed Forces of BiH are getting new American Helicopters”, Sarajevo Times,, (Date of Accession: 12.05.2023).

[3] “HR Christian Schmidt and the “Radicalization of Bosniaks””, Sarajevo Times,, (Date of Accession: 12.05.2023).

[4] “Remarks by High Representative Christian Schmidt to the United Nations Security Council”, Sarajevo Times,, (Date of Accession: 10.05.2023).