The European Union (EU) has been involving in intervention in Bosnia and Herzegovina since 1995, with the establishment of the Dayton Agreement in cooperation with NATO and the United States (US) as well as the Stabilization and Association Agreement The former was aiming at ending the civil conflict and spreading democratic values, respect of the human rights and the rule of law, whereas the latter was setting the premises for Bosnia’ s accession in the EU. The involvement of EU is premised on the assumption that the “future of the Western Balkans including Bosnia and Herzegovina is within the European Union”. The result of the Dayton Agreement was the resolution of the conflict which lasted from 1992 till 1995 as well as the emergence of two national entities, the Federation of Bosnia Herzegovina, which incorporated Bosnians and Croats and the Republika Srpska representing the Bosnian Serbs. The involvement of the EU in Bosnia, however, poses serious ambiguities regarding its nature.
The purpose of this article is to seek insight regarding the role that the EU plays in Bosnia and whether it adheres to universal principles or it ends up promoting liberal democracy according to the western values. In this framework, it is crucial to begin with the background of the political situation in Bosnia before proceeding to EU’ s activity towards Bosnia.
On the onset of World War II (WWII), the area of Yugoslavia was captured by the Axis alliance, with Bosnia and Herzegovina ending up acceding to the Independent State of Croatia. Ustaša, the fascist Croatian Revolutionary Movement massacred thousands of Serbs and Bosnian Jews and founded concentration camps. Two movements were emerged against the Croat Ustaša, the Chetniks which avenged for their losses fighting the Germans, with the second one being the Partisans under Tito’s leadership. Tito gradually managed to recruit a military force with the support of Yugoslavia’s allies and launched a war against the Axis powers in 1943, while Bosnia and Herzegovina gained its recognition as a sovereign entity within Yugoslavia. Tito won the war in 1945 and gave Bosnia the title of an independent republic whereas he established a totalitarian socialist regime. In 1968, the Bosnian Muslim community was recognized along with the Bosnian-Croats and Serbs. After Tito’s death, the socialist government was underway for its demise and the deteriorated economic situation led to ethnic conflicts in the Balkans.
The elections of 1990, nationalist parties dominated Yugoslavia over the communist ones. Croatia and Slovenia declared their independence, a fact that triggered a referendum in Bosnia and Herzegovina regarding its independence from the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY). The people of Bosnia and Herzegovina voted for independence, a fact particularly undesired for Bosnian Serbs. In fact, the leaders of the two national entities, Franjo Tudjman and Slobodan Milosevich attempted to operate through the “Karadjordjevo agreement”, in order to divide Bosnia and Herzegovina between Serbia and Croatia. Nevertheless, Bosnia and Herzegovina declared its independence on April 6 1991. The Serbs who had placed troops in Sarajevo, launched attacks against towns all over Bosnia and the start of a national conflict was signified, in 1992. During the so-called Srebrenica massacre, eight thousand Bosnians were killed within a framework of an “ethnic purge” by the Republica Srpska troops. NATO did not seek to end the conflict before August 1995 with bombings against the Army of Republica Srpska.
The conflict was finally terminated with the signing of the Dayton Agreement which resulted in the recognition of three “constituent peoples”, the Bosnians, the Croats and the Serbs within the framework of an “Inter-Entity Boundary Line”. The Federation of Bosnia Herzegovina, (Bosnians and Croats) owned the 51% of the territory, while the Republika Srpska acquired the 49%, both retaining their own government structures. Annex 7 of the Agreement mandated the repatriation of refugees and displaced people. Despite the decentralization of Bosnia into Entities, national institutions such as a rotating central government, a central bank and a constitutional court. Furthermore, according to the General Framework Agreement for Peace in Bosnia, the parties shall recognize each other as sovereign states, respect human rights and cooperate with all the entities as well as the ones authorized by the United Nations Security Council in order for the peace settlement guarded. At this point I shall move on to EU’s involvement in Bosnia, in the following section.
EU’ s ambiguous intervention in Bosnia has occurred in various forms. First and foremost, EU has mingled in the Office for High Representative (OHR), established in 1995 through the lines of the Dayton Agreement. Its purpose is to ensure the implementation of the peace settlement and the evolution of Bosnia and Herzegovina into a peaceful and viable democracy on course for European integration, on behalf of the International Community (IC). Cornerstone of the Dayton Agreement is Annex 10, where it is stated that the OHR is capable of removing from office local authorities, had they violated legal commitments of the Dayton Agreement, as well as impose new laws where the local legislative bodies were incapable of doing so. This was the case with Dragan Covic in 2005, elected member of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina because of corruption and office misuse.
In 2002, EU undertook full leadership of the OHR with the so-called “double hatting”, as the High representative had simultaneously the function of the EU Special Representative (EUSR) in Bosnia and Herzegovina, in an attempt to replace the plain monitoring of the Dayton implementation with the EU integration process. In 2011 though, due to political unrest in Bosnia EUSR and OHR had to be separated. Therefore, in an attempt on behalf of European Union to empower its presence in Bosnia, Peter Sorensen was appointed as the EUSR and as the Head of the EU delegation at the same time. Valentin Inzko retained the role of the High Representative allowing him to focus on civilian matters of the peace settlement.
EU’ s participation in the Dayton Agreement was aiming at Bosnia’ s integration within its area, thus, the European Commission launched the Stabilization and Association Process (SAP), in 1999. The SAP entails the so called Copenhagen criteria stipulated by the European Council, which are political ones aiming at ensuring democracy, the rule of law, human rights and respect for minorities, economic ones aiming at creating a competitive market economy, and finally, commitment to membership obligations and towards the political, economic and monetary union. A decisive tool for the functioning of SAP are the Stabilization and Association Agreements (SAA), signed in 2008 in Luxemburg and opening the way for EU to facilitate Bosnia’s integration according to the European standards.
Within the framework of the SAP and SAA, the EU has established a number of other institutions in Bosnia and Herzegovina. One of them is EU Force Operation Althea launched in 2004 succeeding UN Security Council Resolution (SFOR), which is a military deployment. Another one is EU Police Mission (EUPM), launched in 2003 to establish a sustainable, professional and multiethnic police force in Bosnia. However, what does this strategy really indicate under the surface?
As one can easily comprehend, the integration of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the western Balkans in general is a powerful foreign policy medium, so as for EU to extend its territory and establish its status as a strong normative, political and military power among the international community. Furthermore, the future of Europe, an expanded Europe with coherence of common foreign and security policy, as well its stability, is strongly connected to the successful stabilization of Bosnia and its integration in the European Union. In fact, EU cannot afford neighbours, who pose problems by their engagement in violent conflicts, as formulated in the European Security Strategy. 
Let’s further refer to the concept of normative power that makes EU’ s peacebuilding and state-building activity ambivalent. The task of a normative power is to promote democratic norms. EU as an entity could be described as post- Westphalian, premised upon certain democratic values. According to Manners, the normative way that EU is constructed provokes its normative behaviour in world politics, and what matters for the perceptiveness of a certain image by others is not what EU does but what it is.  Nevertheless, the attempts of EU’s normative power exertion are questioned by scholars regarding their legitimacy and the increased militarization in Bosnia and Herzegovina. EU activities in Bosnia could also be compared to neoliberal practices that adhere to the global capitalist materialistic needs. The credibility of EU’ s normative power is staggering when it comes to imposition of the EUFOR and EUPM, as well as the prerogative of the removal of public officials. In the EUFOR/EUPM case, both of them ended up as means of domination under the justification of “civilizing” and “Europeanizing” the region. Civilizing of a country means promoting democratic and economic reforms and the rule of law. In spite of the fact that EU’ s intervention in the Bosnian conflict aimed at promoting local ownership through participatory democracy that would incorporate the civil society apart from the local elites, the result was the promotion of peace under liberal terms with domination attributes. The implementation of EUPM proved to be a move on behalf of the EU to govern Bosnia’ s institutions its way without taking into account the local interests and values as well as the opinion of civil society when it came to reforms mandated by EUFOR. Finally, the right of the High Representative to displace public officials, deprived Bosnia of its sovereignty to govern its own affairs as well as led to accusations of public officials’ removals that took place arbitrarily.
The article showed that EU’ s involvement in halting the conflict in Bosnia and Herzegovina, is far from altruistic. The first part, shortly analyzed the background of the political situation and the cause of the conflict. In particular, Bosnia and Herzegovina declared its independence in 1991, just one year after the prevalence of nationalist parties over the communist ones in the 1990 elections. The Serbs were discontent with this outcome, a fact that led to a conflict between the Federation of Bosnia and Republika Srpska . The conflict was terminated with the establishment of the Dayton Agreement which recognized the existence of the two aforementioned national entities, with the former comprising of Bosnians and Croats and the latter of Serbs.
The involvement of EU in ending the conflict, took place with the form of several institutions. First and foremost, is the undertaking of the High Representative and EU Special Representative in Bosnia and Herzegovina aiming at ensuring the implementation of the peace settlement. In the same time, EU sought to integrate Bosnia in its territory by establishing EUFOR and EUPM, military forces. This move shows that EU sees Bosnia, merely as a foreign policy and security tool to ensure its own security and stabilization which cannot otherwise be fulfilled. The operations of EU’ s institutions even though, are to a certain extent necessary when it comes to a region with political instability, in the end lost track. Instead of promoting participatory democracy including civil society and local ownership, EU indicated signs of dominance and neoliberal techniques.
In conclusion, this article signified that EU’ s intervention in Bosnia has its flaws apart from the positive aspects, and which should be amended in order to restore Bosnia’ s sovereignty in its own state affairs and open room for public discourse.
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By Eleni Toulkaridou