The US Approach to Bosnia and Herzegovina and the EU Convergence

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Today, as the nation-state debate continues, the role of supra-state structures in the global system is gaining importance. In this context, the European Union (EU), which has a unique structure, is one of the prominent organizations. Since its founding, the EU has made an important contribution to the economic development and democratic development of Europe. The EU stands out in international politics not as a military power, but as an economically important actor. While providing these benefits to member states, it also prevented the reoccurrence of conflicts by encouraging diplomacy instead of war. In particular, it prevented the re-emergence of conflicts between European states that competed for resources and were characterized as arch rivals with each other. The EU can be considered as a structure that protects Europe above all from itself and is extremely beneficial for relatively small states. It has a particularly strong economic structure.

The EU, while influencing the policies of its member states, faced significant difficulties during the Russia-Ukraine War. Russia’s move that challenged the USA and NATO had a negative impact on the EU as well. Russia, an important energy provider of Europe, has disrupted the energy needs of European states by cutting off its energy supply. For this reason, European states aimed to follow common foreign and security policies within the EU. They especially wanted to take a collective stance against Russia. To achieve this goal, they turned to the Balkans, based on their belief in the rapid integration of Europe.

The EU has decided to tighten its dialogue with Bosnia and Herzegovina while increasing its strategic focus on the Balkans. Although the EU’s goal of European integration has gained momentum recently, it does not want to compromise on two issues: the first is cooperation against possible security problems within the borders of the EU, and the second is economic integration. In addition, democracy indices are also important for the EU. While the EU process of Bosnia and Herzegovina is gaining momentum, it is frequently emphasized that the parties are open to cooperation and consultation. Bosnia and Herzegovina held the OSCE Security Cooperation Forum in the organization of its Permanent Representation to the OSCE, the UN and other international organizations in the international community and successfully held the OSCE Security Cooperation Forum Presidency between January-April 2023. These meetings show the importance that Bosnia and Herzegovina attaches to international cooperation and dialogue.[1]

Bosnia and Herzegovina is an important issue that needs to be agreed on the economy in the EU membership process. The EU implements various policies to support the economy of its member states. Therefore, it is clear that the EU wants to adopt a common approach to trade with Bosnia and Herzegovina. However, the EU expects Bosnia and Herzegovina not to take unilateral trade measures without prior consultation with it. The European Commission also draws attention to the need to pay attention to this issue.[2]

Security concern is one of the main drivers of the strengthening relations between Bosnia and Herzegovina and the EU. In particular, the EU’s candidacy status for incorporating Bosnia and Herzegovina can be considered as an important step. The Head of the EU Delegation to Bosnia and Herzegovina stated that he sees this step as a clear signal to local authorities and citizens.[3]

Even though the relations between Bosnia and Herzegovina and the European Union are in an improving trend, it is not possible to say that the process has progressed completely smoothly. The reason for this situation is that Republika Srpska cannot be ignored in this relationship. Especially Bosnian Serb leader Milorad Dodik has an extremely negative influence. Dodik is known for his closeness, especially with Russian President Vladimir Putin, and his steps make it difficult for the parties.

With the start of the Russia-Ukraine War, the EU has implemented various sanctions against Russia. However, there are many EU and NATO member European countries that do not implement these sanctions. In addition, while NATO’s activities in the region increase, the USA also imposes sanctions on Russia. After the energy crisis in Europe, the economic crisis became inevitable, which damaged the interests of EU member states. Based on this situation, the USA aims to remove the obstacles to European integration. The trust of EU member states in NATO is an important factor, especially in terms of security, although there are different opinions. For this reason, the USA is taking measures against Dodik in Bosnia and Herzegovina in order to maintain its influence on European countries and not leave room for political maneuvering against Russia. US Ambassador to Bosnia and Herzegovina Michael Murphy emphasized that his country will not remain silent against corrupt politicians.[4]

These statements increased the long-standing public pressure against Dodik. In addition, it can be said that the investments of the USA in Bosnia and Herzegovina may also be affected. To date, 638 million dollars has been invested in Republika Srpska by the USA.[5] Relations between the USA and Republika Srpska have been the scene of not only economic but also diplomatic tensions. In particular, the US Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s statement about Dodik, which he likened to Putin, aroused great repercussions in the international public opinion.[6] These meetings were interpreted as a new approach of the USA to Bosnia and Herzegovina. While Blinken likened Dodik to Putin and was expected to take a step back, Dodik’s statement that he was pleased to be compared to Putin clearly reveals his attitude towards Russia and the USA.[7]

It is clear that Bosnia and Herzegovina is an important actor in the process of European integration, considering the increased security concerns of the EU and its orientation towards the Balkans after the Russia-Ukraine War. However, Republika Srpska leader Dodik is not on the same footing as the other parties. The similarity of NATO and EU members requires the US to pass a test. In this process, the USA, which does not want to leave room for maneuver to Russia, takes the initiative to remove the obstacles in the Bosnia-Herzegovina-EU rapprochement and displays a determined stance against Dodik.

[1] “Successful Realization of BiH’s Chairmanship of the OSCE Forum for Security Cooperation”, Sarajevotimes,, (Date of Accession: 30.03.2023).

[2] “EC Expects BiH to Refrain From Undertaking Unilateral Trade Measures”, Sarajevotimes,, (Date of Accession: 31.03.2023).

[3] “Vice-President of the Federation of BiH Met With the Head of the EU Delegation in BiH”, Sarajevotimes,, (Date of Accession: 31.03.2023).

[4] “Ambasador Murphy: SAD Neće Šutjeti o Korumpiranim Političarima u BiH”, Aljazeera,, (Date of Accession: 28.03.2023).

[5] “The U.S. Invested 638 Million Dollars in the Republika Srpska”, Sarajevotimes,, (Date of Accession: 30.03.2023).

[6] “US Secretary of State Blinken Sent a Fierce Message to Dodik, Comparing Him to Putin”, Sarajevotimes,, (Date of Accession: 29.03.2023).

[7] “Dodik Replied to Blinken: I am Glad That He is Talking About Me and Comparing Me to Putin”, Sarajevotimes,, (Date of Accession: 31.03.2023).