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Strengthening our engagement in the Western Balkans: German participation in EUFOR-ALTHEA

Bridge in Sarajevo

Bridge in Sarajevo, © picture alliance / Zoonar

15.06.2022 - Article

Germany has not contributed personnel the EU stabilisation force EUFOR-ALTHEA in Bosnia and Herzegovina since 2012. The Cabinet decision to rejoin the operation, taken shortly after Foreign Minister Baerbock’s trip to the Western Balkans, is a key sign of Germany’s strong commitment to the region.

Logo EUFOR ALTHEA
Logo EUFOR ALTHEA© Creative Commons

Today’s Cabinet decision is a clear statement by Germany, and its EU and NATO partners, that we will not permit a security vacuum to be created in our immediate neighbourhood.

The political situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina is fraught, above all because of the separatist course pursued by Milorad Dodik, the leader of the Bosnian Serbs. The Russian war of aggression against Ukraine has additionally aggravated concerns that Russia is also acting to destabilise Bosnia and Herzegovina. Elections are due to be held there in October and making sure that these can go ahead securely is thus a matter of urgency. EUFOR-ALTHEA has a key role to play in this regard.

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 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 renewed once again this November.

The Bundestag still has to give its approval

Germany plans to deploy staff officers to the operation headquarters in Sarajevo and personnel for two liaison and observation teams in the country. The Bundestag mandate, which has yet to be approved, will be for a maximum of 50 individuals. The military CSDP operation EUFOR–ALTHEA has been deployed since 2004 as the successor to SFOR in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Its mission is to maintain a safe and secure environment and support compliance with the Dayton Agreement, and to provide training for the Bosnian armed forces.

EU Strategic Compass

Rejoining EUFOR-ALTHEA is also related to the EU’s Strategic Compass for Security and Defence, which was adopted as a key strategic document in March. It is essential that the EU now proves in practical terms that it can act, especially in its own immediate neighbourhood. Germany intends to play its part to this end.

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