US and EU back Western Balkans borders at UN

File photo. Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the United States new ambassador to the United Nations, holds her first press conference as the United States is set to take the presidency of the UN Security Council for the month, at United Nations headquarters in New York, New York, USA, 1 March 2021. [Justin Lane/EPA/EFE]

The United States and the EU on Tuesday (4 May) expressed support for the territorial borders of Bosnia and Herzegovina, which have recently been called into question, and for the UN envoy to the country, who has been criticized by Russia.

“The US position on the (1995) Dayton Peace Accords, and Bosnia and Herzegovina’s future as a single state destined for the Euro-Atlantic community, remains unchanged,” US ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield, told the Security Council.

Tense relations have persisted in the Western Balkans, which groups Albania, Serbia, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Kosovo and Bosnia, since the violent break-up of the former Yugoslavia in the 1990s.

Slovenian news website Necenzurirano last month published a document, allegedly sent to the EU by Slovenia’s premier, proposing territorial exchanges to deal with “unresolved national issues of Serbs, Albanians and Croatians.”

The document proposed the unification of Albania with Kosovo — a former Serbian region with an Albanian majority — as well as the adhesion of parts of Bosnia to Serbia and Croatia, and the creation of a small Bosnian state that would have to decide whether to tighten its links with the EU or its ally, Turkey.

Slovenian Prime Minister Janez  Janša denied handing the document to European Council President Charles Michel.

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Like Ireland and Estonia, which are non-permanent members of the Security Council, France also affirmed “its unwavering support for the sovereignty and territorial integrity” of Bosnia.

Thomas-Greenfield added that “the United States supports the essential role of (UN envoy Valentin Inzko) monitoring and supporting the implementation of civilian aspects of the Dayton Peace Accords.”

But Russia, which does not question the integrity of Bosnia, renewed its attacks on Inzko.

“He presents the situation as if the Bosnian Serbs and the Croats alone were to blame for all the difficulties,” said Anna Evstigneeva, deputy Russian ambassador to the UN.

She denounced his “interference” and “manipulation of historical events,” and demanded he was not involved with Bosnia’s relations with the European Union and NATO.

Inzko said he regretted the verbal attacks against him, including being labeled a monster by Milorad Dodik, Bosnia’s nationalist Serb leader.

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