Back to Square One

The Bundeswehr is again sending troops to Bosnia-Herzegovina. More than a quarter of a century after Dayton, the West’s attempts to calm the situations have proven a failure.

BERLIN/SARAJEVO (Own report) – Nearly ten years after its pullout, the Bundeswehr is again furnishing troops to the EU mission in Bosnia-Herzegovina. Since Tuesday, German military personnel are present at the headquarters of the EU’s Operation Althea in Sarajevo. Others will be assigned to carry out research on the population of Bosnia-Herzegovina within the framework of so-called Liaison and Observation Teams (LOT), while simultaneously promoting support for the EU mission in that country. The failure of the Dayton Agreement – signed more than a quarter of a century ago – which has been incapable of stabilizing Bosnia-Herzegovina and helping that country to recover, is the reason for the return. Instead, the ethno-proportional representation à la Dayton combined with foreign interference has blocked all progress. In addition, the West still insists on imposing a High Representative for Bosnia-Herzegovina, who has no democratic legitimacy and can rule in Sarajevo like a sort of colonial governor. The Bundeswehr’s return to Sarajevo is taking place at a time when Berlin – unsuccessful in Bosnia-Herzegovina – is sending troops to take up positions in the Asia-Pacific region against China.

Return to Bosnia-Herzegovina

Since Tuesday (August 16), nearly ten years since the withdrawal of its last troops, at the time, the Bundeswehr is back again on mission in Bosnia-Herzegovina. Subsequent to the signing of the Dayton Agreement on December 14, 1995, German troops had been stationed there, initially within the framework of NATO’s IFOR (until December 1996), and then its SFOR operations (until December 2004), and thereafter within the framework of the EU’s Operation Althea, until Germany terminated its military participation in November 2012. Now Berlin is again sending military personnel to the Althea headquarters staff in Sarajevo, as well as for setting up two Bundeswehr Liaison and Observation Teams (LOT). Their task on the one hand, will be to carry out research on Bosnia-Herzegovina’s population to obtain early warning of eventual revolts, and on the other, to promote a greater acceptance for the Althea mission. For this purpose, around 25 soldiers will be dispatched to Bosnia-Herzegovina by the fourth quarter of this year. Their – initial – mandate will be limited to June 30 2023. The Bundestag had already passed the resolution to that effect on July 8.[1]

Impoverished and Ethnicized

The reason for the renewed deployment of German soldiers is the lack of success in stabilizing Bosnia-Herzegovina on the basis of the Dayton Agreement under NATO and EU auspices. More than a quarter of a century after the signing of that agreement, the country remains impoverished. Each year, around one-percent of the population emigrates in search of better living perspectives. ( reported.[2]) Politically, the ethnization of the Bosnia-Herzegovinian state and its state structures, enshrined in the Dayton Agreement, has regularly throttled every social modernization effort. On the other hand, disintegration tendencies arising from ethnization, are being blocked by the western powers, because these do not serve their interests. This is particularly true for Republika Srpska’s efforts to gain greater independence or even to secede from Bosnia-Herzegovina. This, as well as any form of union with Serbia, would strengthen Belgrade, which for its part, cooperates relatively closely with Moscow. Growing unrest within the country is the consequence of the West’s contradictory policies.

Quasi-Colonial Governor

Currently, conflicts in Bosnia-Herzegovina have been ignited over two issues. On the one hand, Bosnian-Croat nationalists are demanding an electoral reform in their favor, being primarily supported in their demand by EU member Croatia. On the other hand, unlike his predecessor, the new High Representative for Bosnia-Herzegovina, Germany’s former Food and Agriculture Minister, Christian Schmidt (Christian Social Union (CSU), is using his full powers. The high representative – always a politician from one of the EU member countries – has the authority to dismiss democratically elected officials, repeal valid laws or personally impose new laws. This is why he is repeatedly compared to European governors during colonial times. Additionally – unlike his predecessors – Schmidt’s assumption to office on August 1, 2021, had not been approved by Russia. On the contrary, Moscow is working toward having the UN Security Council abolish the post, which is incompatible with democratic principles. His lacking Russia’s approval has robbed him of any legitimacy among Bosnian Serbs.

“Accept what I Decide!”

The conflict with Schmidt escalated further on Wednesday. The conflict arose around the German CSU politician favoring an electoral reform based on the introduction of a 3 percent hurdle – beneficial for Bosnian-Croat nationalists, but discriminatory against Bosnian Sinti and Roma as well as against Jews, who, because of the inscribed ethnic-proportionality in the Dayton Agreement, are already excluded from holding central state offices in Sarajevo. In response to the hefty criticism that ensued, Schmidt has initially withdrawn his electoral reform proposal, while reserving the right to impose it, should the country’s political parties not reach an agreement on the question before the scheduled elections on October 2. Observers are sharply criticizing the prospect of such a revision of electoral rights in the midst of an election campaign. At a press conference in Goražde, in the east of the country, a journalist made reference to the criticism – as well as to the fact that the reform discriminates against Sinti, Roma and Jews, – Schmidt exploded and screamed at the questioner, alleging that the argument was “complete nonsense:” “Please accept what I decide!”[3] Schmidt’s hot-tempered outburst of rage had even provoked sharp criticism in Germany yesterday.[4]

NATO Rather than EU

In the meantime, in response to the rising tensions in Bosnia-Herzegovina, demands are being raised for a NATO mission to replace the EU’s Operation Althea. This would be preferable because NATO has a more robust approach than the EU, according to media statements last week. An additional consideration is that until now, Althea has been mandated by the UN Security Council. It is questionable whether Russia will approve a prolongation of its mandate, which expires in November.[5] For such a case, there is an option of resorting to a provision in the Dayton Agreement, by which, it is sufficient for the North Atlantic Council to decide a NATO mission – in other words, a decision from the highest governing body of the war alliance itself.

Total Failure

The Bundeswehr’s return to Bosnia and the debate around returning the mission to NATO’s authority is happening at a time, when Germany’s armed forces are not only massively taking up positions against Russia in Eastern and Southeastern Europe, but are also seeking to position themselves in the Asia-Pacific realm against China.[6] Their pretentious efforts to appear as a global power, are accompanied by their total failure in their surrounding neighborhood.


[1] Bosnien und Herzegowina – EUFOR Operation Althea.

[2] See also Zurück auf Los.

[3] „Absolut unangemessen“ – SPD-Abgeordneter kritisiert Schmidt-Ausraster. 18.08.2022.

[4] Maximilian Popp: Wie ein Kolonialherr. 18.08.2022.

[5] Leon Hartwell, Hikmet Karčić, Josephine Mintel: Send NATO Troops to Help Stabilize Bosnia and Herzegovina. 12.08.2022.

[6] See also Die zweite Front der Bundeswehr.