Shaheen, Tillis, Murphy & Wicker Urge Biden Administration to Establish U.S. Policy toward Bosnia and Herzegovina as EUFOR Mandate Renewal Deadline Approaches
(Washington, DC) – U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Europe and Regional Security Cooperation and a senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, sent a letter this week with U.S. Senators Thom Tillis (R-NC), Chris Murphy (D-CT) and Roger Wicker (R-MS) to Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, on the importance of the European Union Force in Bosnia and Herzegovina (EUFOR) mandate and the development of a comprehensive strategy towards Bosnia and Herzegovina. Shaheen just returned to a trip from the Western Balkans last week, and Senators Shaheen, Tillis and Murphy traveled to the region together in April. The deadline for the United Nations Security Council to extend the EUFOR Mandate is next month.
The Senators wrote, in part, “The fragility of the peace established under the Dayton Peace Accords is evident and alarming. Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine has emboldened actors in Bosnia and Herzegovina who have long been supported by the Kremlin and other external actors, and the risk of violence cannot be ignored. The United States must focus on maintaining peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina.”
The lawmakers went on to underscore the importance of the EUFOR mandate, which has helped keep the peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina following the end of the war in 1995. The number of NATO troops in the region under the mandate has steadily decreased. Amid precarious political dynamics in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the lawmakers argue that a more concerted strategic response from European Union (EU) member states, the United Kingdom and the United States is necessary to sufficiently source the EUFOR Althea Mission.
The Senators underscored the serious European and U.S. national security implications in the region as a result of Vladimir Putin’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine. They explained, “Russia continues to claim the Western Balkans as within its sphere of influence, and Russian officials have issued numerous statements of support for regional actors opposed to both European integration and NATO. The United States must not turn a blind eye to these threats; we must demonstrate our commitment to European security by maintaining an effective presence in the Balkans as we continue to respond to Russia’s unprovoked war in Ukraine.”
In closing, the Senators urged the Biden administration to develop a strategy, in coordination with NATO and the EU, for how to maintain a peacekeeping force in Bosnia and Herzegovina in the event of a Russian veto of the EUFOR mandate. Their letter can be read in full here.
Senators Shaheen and Wicker lead bipartisan legislation in the U.S. Senate to strengthen U.S.-Balkan ties by supporting economic development in the region through initiatives on infrastructure, trade and anti-corruption.