US Puts Bosnia and Herzegovina at Centre of Diplomatic Activities

Addressing the Subcommittee: Europe, Energy, the Environment and Cyber in the House of Representatives on Thursday, US Western Balkan Special Envoy Gabriel Escobar has pointed that BiH’s path from Dayton to Brussels leads to reforms including step-by-step, electoral legislation and economic reforms that will benefit all citizens.

Though he noted Croatia’s dissatisfaction with the phrase “from Dayton to Brussels” as one that means abolishing the constituent peoples model, Escobar raised greater concerns about remarks by the Serb member of the tripartite Presidency, Milorad Dodik, calling them dangerous and threatening  and with potential to undermine Dayton and the European choice and perspective of all BiH citizens.

Pointing out that the Dayton Peace Agreement is the basis of American policy in BiH, Escobar stressed that the US is vigorously engaging with local actors and EU partners to push back on any moves that risks Bosnia’s return to its troubled past.

Noting the recently announced plans by two Chinese companies – China National Technical Import & Export Corporation and Powerchina Resource – to build a €130 billion wind park in Livno, southwestern BiH, the US diplomat underscored that the US is most afraid of China’s economic influence in the region that is always accompanied by a certain political influence.

Previously this week, Washington has sent a special envoy to Bosnia and Herzegovina to press for the long-delayed electoral and constitutional reform in the Balkan country, against the backdrop of heightened tensions among its Bosniaks, Croats and Serbs.

US State Department’s special envoy for electoral reform in BiH, Matthew A. Palmer, noted ahead of his trip to Sarajevo that the US is committed to doing everything they can do and that he’ll push pretty strongly added that ‘no stick is needed,  which also means there is no carrot either.’

Palmer was also intending to talk about electoral and constitutional reform in BiH with Angelina Eichhorst, the managing director for Europe and Central Asia at the European External Action Service, the EU’s diplomatic arm.

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