Expansion of German engagement in the Western Balkans
The first German Bundeswehr soldiers in EUFOR Althea in Bosnia and Herzegovina began work yesterday. The occasion was marked by a flag raising ceremony. Germany is deploying staff officers to the operation headquarters in Sarajevo and personnel for two liaison and observation teams in the country. The mandate approved by the German Bundestag on 7 July 2022 caps the number of soldiers to be deployed at fifty.
Strategically important region for Germany and the European Union
By restarting its participation in EUFOR-ALTHEA, Germany is joining its EU and NATO partners in emphasising that we will not permit a security vacuum to be created in our immediate neighbourhood. In addition, the domestic situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina is tense, and there are forces that want to divide the country. The Federal Government Special Representative for the Countries of the Western Balkans, Manuel Sarrazin, therefore stressed:
“We are sending a signal that Germany is committed with its partners to the security of the people in the country. We are also helping to ensure that the elections in October take place in a safe environment. We will not allow a vacuum to be created in Bosnia and Herzegovina; rather, we will continue to take a clear stance against divisive policies.”
Important signal to the United Nations
The fact that Germany is rejoining this operation as a troop contributing nation also sends a strong political message to the United Nations. The UN Security Council has currently authorised the operation until November 2022. This authorisation provides a clear basis under international law for Germany’s participation. The German Government is working with Germany’s partners in the UN Security Council to ensure that the authorisation for EUFOR-ALTHEA is again renewed.
EU Strategic Compass
Rejoining EUFOR-ALTHEA is also related to the EU’s Strategic Compass for Security and Defence, which was adopted in March as a key strategic document for the EU’s Common Security and Defence Policy. The EU can thus now prove in practical terms that it can act, especially in its own immediate neighbourhood.