Bosnia and Herzegovina: Council adopts conclusions on EUFOR Operation Althea

1.The Council reiterates its unequivocal commitment to Bosnia and Herzegovina’s EU perspective as a single, united and sovereign country. The Council deeply regrets the prolonged political crisis in the country and condemns the blockage of the State institutions. The Council urges all political leaders to renounce provocative and divisive rhetoric and action, including questioning the territorial integrity of the country, and put their joint efforts in fulfilling the 14 key priorities identified in the Commission’s Opinion on Bosnia and Herzegovina’s application for EU membership, endorsed by the Council in 2019, and in line with the interest of all citizens to advance towards the European Union.

2. The Council welcomes the continued presence of Operation Althea, which, following the Strategic Reviews of 2017 and 2019, has refocused on its core mandate of supporting the authorities of Bosnia and Herzegovina in maintaining a safe and secure environment (SASE), based on a solid model of predictive intelligence. At the same time, the Operation continues to implement the other tasks deriving from the General Framework Agreement for Peace (GFAP) as well as the collective training with the Armed Forces of Bosnia and Herzegovina (AFBiH).

3. The Council acknowledges that these priorities were confirmed in the third Strategic Review of the Operation presented in June 2021, including the findings according to which the Operation’s presence continues to play a key role for stability and security in the country, as part of the overall EU strategy for Bosnia and Herzegovina. In this context, the Council reaffirms the EU’s readiness to continue the executive mandate of the Operation under a renewed UN authorisation.

4. The Council notes that during the past year, the COVID-19 pandemic and its effects continued to pose a major challenge and commends the Operation for remaining fully operational and continuing to support the country in these difficult times.

5. The Council recognises the importance of continued coordination of EUFOR Althea with other international actors on the ground.

6. The EU continues to urge the authorities of Bosnia and Herzegovina, with the support of the international community, to strengthen their efforts regarding the further disposal of surplus ammunition, weapons and explosives as well as regarding humanitarian demining. In this regard, the EU stands ready to further support humanitarian demining activities in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Council conclusions on Bosnia and Herzegovina/Operation EUFOR Althea, 18 October 2021