Germany to redeploy troops to Bosnia for ‘stability’ reasons | Political news

The Foreign Office said: “We, together with our European and NATO partners, will not allow a security vacuum in our immediate vicinity.”

The German government has paved the way for the deployment of troops with the European Union peacekeeping mission in Bosnia for the first time in a decade, as concerns grow over the instability of the war in Ukraine which is spreading in the Western Balkans.

Government spokesman Steffen Seibert told reporters at a press conference in Berlin on Wednesday that the cabinet had decided to send troops to EUFOR-Althea, which has been active since 2004.

Seibert said a maximum of 50 troops will be sent for a year, marking a return to strength in Bosnia which Germany left in late 2012.

Some of the troops are intended to staff two so-called liaison and observation teams, groups that are spread across the country and function as sensors for the EUFOR command, while others will work at headquarters in Sarajevo.

The decision of the Council of Ministers must be approved in the Bundestag, and Seibert said that after approval by parliament, German soldiers will serve until the end of next June and the period can be extended.

The German Defense Ministry also said that the federal government had decided to resume participation in the EU operation in Bosnia and Herzegovina at EUFOR-Althea.

“A stable Western Balkan region is of great importance to us. The first consultation in the Bundestag should take place on June 24,” he said on Twitter.

“A safe vacuum”

Bosnia is hundreds of miles from the fighting in Ukraine, but faces an increasingly assertive Bosnian Serb separatist movement that analysts say enjoys at least tacit support from Moscow.

Just days after Russia invaded Ukraine, the EU decided to almost double the size of its EUFOR peacekeeping force from 600 to 1,100 troops by sending in reserves to avoid potential instability.

As Bosnian Serb leader Milorad Dodik increasingly voices his secessionist aims, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell called the move a “precautionary measure”.

NATO and senior EU officials have warned that instability from the war in Ukraine could spill over to the Western Balkans.

“Thus Germany is responding to the tense situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina,” the German Foreign Ministry said on Twitter on Wednesday.

“Still in the run-up to the October elections, we, together with our European and NATO partners, will not allow a security vacuum in our immediate vicinity.”

But Toby Vogel, senior associate at the Democratization Policy Council, noted that Bosnia already had a security vacuum “since at least 2011, when the EU let EUFOR fall below minimum operational strength”.

EUFOR’s current mandate expires in November and it is up to the UN Security Council to decide on a one-year extension. But concerns are growing that Moscow could use its veto to thwart a deal.

Active since 2004, the EU operation EUFOR-Althea succeeds NATO peacekeeping missions in the country.

European troops are supposed to stabilize the country after the 1992-95 war which claimed around 100,000 lives.

In December 1995, Bosnia was split into two entities: a Bosnian-Croat “Federation” and a Serb-led entity known as Republika Srpska as part of the Dayton Peace Accord.

Dodik has made no secret of his admiration and close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin, and his efforts for the secession of the Republika Srpska entity are widely recognized as having the support of the Kremlin.

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