Bosnia and Hercegovina politics: Quick View - Little progress on NATO accession expected in 2017

Content Type
Country Data and Maps
Economist Intelligence Unit
No abstract is available.
Politics, News Analysis
Political Geography
Bosnia and Herzegovina


In early February Jens Stoltenberg, the secretary general of NATO, will visit Bosnia and Hercegovina (BiH). The BiH foreign minister, Igor Crnadak, said that the visit would focus on BiH's NATO partnership and include a discussion on the stability of the region.


A longstanding defence property dispute between the state government and the majority Serb entity of BiH, Republika Srpska (RS), has blocked BiH from activating NATO's Membership Action Plan (MAP), the next step in the country's NATO accession process. As a condition to entering NATO's MAP, the BiH state government is required to obtain full ownership of all immovable defence properties in the country. However, RS leaders have long resisted proposals to transfer ownership of the former Yugoslav People's Army facility in Han Pijesak to BiH state authorities. Although NATO invited BiH to join the MAP in April 2010, the defence property issue remained a stumbling block for years.

This lasted until 2016, when the Constitutional Court in November rejected the RS's appeal against a decision by the State Court granting the Han Pijesak property to the state. However, RS authorities continue to resist handing over the property to the state despite the ruling.

With the resolution of this crucial condition to activating the country's MAP unclear, BiH's NATO accession remains as distant as ever. RS leaders continue to delay the country's Euro-Atlantic integration, with the military facility deadlock serving as a prominent example. NATO recently condemned the participation of Bosnian Serb units of the BiH army in the RS "Statehood Day" celebration in Banja Luka on January 9th, prompting sceptical responses by RS leaders on NATO's role in the country and BiH's future in the alliance.

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