Russia calls for closing UN office in Bosnia

Published November 6, 2019, 7:21 AM

by Patrick Garcia

By Agence France-Presse

Russia called Tuesday for closing the office of the UN High Representative in Bosnia, claiming the senior UN official there is biased.

The remarks by Moscow’s UN ambassador Vassily Nebenzia came after the Security Council unanimously approved a further one-year extension of the European Union’s military force (Eufor-Althea) to implement the 1995 Dayton Accords in Bosnia.

Some analysts see Bosnia as a proxy for power struggles between Washington and Moscow, with western powers frequently accusing Moscow of meddling in the region to prevent Balkan states from joining NATO.

Nebenzia appealed to his Security Council colleagues to “redouble efforts” to close the office of UN High Representative Valentin Insko.

The move, however, has little Security Council support.

Nebenzia accused Insko of using his latest report to the Security Council to push for Bosnia’s integration in Euro-Atlantic institutions.

“The High Representative must respect his mandate, and Mr Insko is not competent to lobby for the Euro-Atlantic integration of Sarajevo,” he said.

Nebenzia also attacked the new Bosnian head of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) mission, charging he had organized a seminar to advocate for NATO entry.

“It is important to strictly respect the Dayton principles,” insisted Nebenzia, rejecting “artificial arguments” to keep the international protectorate in Bosnia when it is no longer relevant.

Since its 1990s war, the Balkan state has been held together by a fragile power-sharing arrangement among its three main groups: Muslims, Serbs and Croats.

Critics say the system entrenches ethnic divides and has hobbled Bosnia with a sprawling and unwieldy government.

One year after Bosnian elections, the country’s three-man presidency has been unable to even agree on a flag, let alone form a government.

The core of the dispute revolves around the stance of the presidents towards NATO.

The Serb member of the presidency, Milorad Dodik, is a pro-Russian Serb nationalist who has suggested that the Serb region would be better off on its own.

The Croat and Bosnian Muslim members want Bosnia to someday join NATO, while Dodik staunchly opposes it.