The Aegis Trust welcomes the recent series of visits to Bosnia and Herzegovina by high profile UK politicians, and is particularly encouraged by the visit of the UK’s Minister for Europe and North America, the Rt Hon James Cleverly MP.
The UK’s decision to help support Bosnia’s threatened election process, a crisis that was playing into the hands of Bosnian Serb and Bosnian Croat secessionists, is commendable and important.
Aegis urges the minister to continue the UK’s vital policy of strong support to Bosnia and Herzegovina by delivering on the following recommendations:
1) Ensure Bosnia’s stability, and block Putin’s interference in the country, by stationing UK peacekeepers on the ground, in the strategically critical town of Brčko, in the country’s north east. This can be done either through the EU’s Operation Althea, or via NATO.
2) Provide vital support to Bosnia and Herzegovina’s peacebuilders, such as our partners in Sarajevo, the Post-Conflict Research Centre. Whilst troops will keep the peace, it is the country’s peacebuilders that will help secure the future. We also ask that the Minister ensures HMG continues to support the work of the Srebrenica Genocide Memorial.
3) Bosnia is such a beautiful country, with real economic potential, yet it suffers from a debilitating brain-drain. The UK must do more to help secure its economic future (and thus stability) by encouraging trade; sharing training, business knowledge and expertise, and particularly helping develop the tourist sector. The UK should also loosen the visa restrictions on Bosnians trying to holiday in the UK. Currently they are prohibitively expensive.
Aegis Trust CEO Dr James Smith says: “It is really fantastic to see such cohesive support for Bosnia and Herzegovina by the UK. The economic sanctions on Milorad Dodik, secured by MPs Alicia Kearns, Fleur Anderson and others – in conjunction with the minister – were particularly important. This support must continue, grow and strengthen.
We are urging James Cleverly to continue the UK’s strong support for Bosnia, and to show the secessionists, especially Milorad Dodik and Dragan Cović, that the UK will not tolerate their aggression, and will stand with Bosnia’s citizens who are committed to peace.”