The foreign ministers of NATO member states agreed at their meeting in Tallinn, Estonia on Thursday to extend a Membership Action Plan, MAP, to Bosnia, but attached conditions to its implementation.
Bosnia’s top officials welcomed the decision, expressing hope that it would help stabilize the country and contribute to the security of the Western Balkans in general.
“MAP will bring stability to Bosnia-Herzegovina as it is a guarantee of its sovereignty and territorial integrity. As such it will also contribute to the stability of the entire Western Balkans,” Bosnian Foreign Minister Sven Alkalaj told local media.
The chairman of Bosnia’s tripartite presidency, Haris Silajdzic, said that by extending a MAP to his country NATO foreign ministers have sent “a very good message.”
“This is not only a good message for Bosnia-Herzegovina, but also for peace, stability and prosperity of the entire (Western Balkans) region,” Silajdzic told www.vijesti.ba news portal.
In a press release announcing their decision, NATO foreign ministers welcomed Bosnia’s recent decision to send members of its military to serve with the International Security Assistance Force, ISAF, in Afghanistan and praised progress the country has achieved in several areas, including in destruction of surplus arms and ammunition.
However, they expressed concern with the still unresolved issue of the country’s defense property.
Therefore, the ministers have decided that Bosnia’s first annual reform plan under MAP will be accepted by NATO only after the Balkan country registers its defense property as belonging to the central state.
According to Alkalaj, this was in reference to some 70 military properties around Bosnia which will have to be registered as belonging to the country’s defense ministry.
Membership action plans are intended to expedite candidate countries’ progress toward joining the 28-member military alliance and are seen as a key stepping stone on the way towards full membership. Under the plan, the NATO membership aspirants are provided with individually-tailored advice and support. The plan also serves as a means to monitor their progress and provide feedback on reforms.