NATO chief says dialogue, cooperation with Bosnia and Herzegovina ‘more important than ever’

The NATO secretary general on Wednesday said political dialogue and practical cooperation with Bosnia and Herzegovina “are more important than ever” due to Russia’s war on Ukraine.

Jens Stoltenberg made the remarks at a joint news conference with Chairman of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina Sefik Dzaferovic at the NATO headquarters in Brussels.

„We have just had a very constructive discussion on how we can further deepen our cooperation with Bosnia and Herzegovina,” he said.

This could include a new defense capacity-building package, enhancing cooperation on small arms and light weapons, counter-terrorism, crisis management and cyber security, according to the secretary general.

„By stepping up both our political and practical support we can help build resilience and prevent any future aggression,” Stoltenberg added.

He said NATO is committed to long-lasting peace and stability in Bosnia and Herzegovina, which has long aspired to join the military alliance.

„NATO has a very long history in Bosnia and Herzegovina and we are monitoring the developments very closely. We are committed to the long haul. We are there to continue and ensure peace and stability. The aim of all of these is to prevent instability and a new war,” he said.

Dzaferovic, for his part, said he is convinced that NATO will protect peace and stability in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

„Unfortunately, there is Russian influence in Bosnia and Herzegovina and we must treat it adequately. There are open threats coming from the Russian side … that Bosnia will face consequences if it continues on its NATO path,” he said.

„Yes, we will continue on our NATO path … We have made our decisions and we will continue to implement them.”

In March, Moscow said it will react if Sarajevo takes steps towards joining NATO, and would perceive it as a hostile act.

In light of Russia’s war on of Ukraine in February, the 30-member alliance says it is increasing its support for partners at risk from „Russian threats and interference.”