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Volume 3 - Issue 11 November 2013

Where Do The Balkans Stand Today? An Analysis of Balkan Relations in 2013 The Balkans have, for the better part of 20 years, been the focal point of NATO-led missions and peacekeeping efforts in Europe. As we rapidly approach the 15th anniversary of the Kosovo Force’s (KFOR) deployment, Atlantic Voices delves into the past, examining just how far the region has come, before then looking to the future, and determining how far we have yet to go. Our two pieces for this month’s edition each examine different aspects of the Balkans’ journey towards democracy. The first piece is an examination of the state and presence of civil society within the region as a whole. Civil society has become a key tenant in the developed world, and as the Balkan states look to join both NATO and the EU, it

Left to right: General Philip Mark Breedlove (Supreme Allied Commander Europe) with General Jean-Paul Palomeros (Supreme Allied Commander Transformation)


becomes an area of utmost importance, and an issue

Is the Mission Truly Accomplished? A Reconciliation in the Balkans

that must be addressed.

Vladimir Rakocevic discusses the state of civil society organizations in the Balkans, and what

The second piece is an in-depth analysis of

these organizations can do to help encourage democracy and promote peace in the region. The

Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the country’s individ-

author takes particular heed of the recent financial crisis in 2008, and offers insight on how

ual road towards NATO and EU accession. With

civil society can best cope with the dire economic environment.

the country’s first ever qualification to the World

Bosnia and Herzegovina: On The Way Towards NATO and The EU

Cup Finals in Brazil 2014, there is plenty to be optimistic about, but as our author will reveal, there is still a long journey ahead. -Bret Matera and Brendan Beroff Atlantic Voices, Volume 3, Issue 11

Dr. Dijana Gupta gives a personal viewpoint on the state of Bosnia and Herzegovina, providing wisdom and interpretation of the country’s tumultuous past, before laying out the issues that must be addressed for the country to be successful in its accession path to NATO and the EU. 1

Is The Mission Truly Accomplished? Achieved Results, Current Challenges and Perspectives On The Road Ahead


he hostilities that marked the history of Eu-

the Western Balkan countries, the region has embraced

rope in the aftermath of the Yugoslavian

a blatant rhetoric on Euro-Atlantic integration. Former-

collapse plunged the entire region into chaos

ly belligerent countries of the ex-Yugoslav Socialist Fed-

with more than 120 000 causalities and around 4 000

eration were gradually accepting the fact that prolonging

000 displaced. The international community intervened

hostilities and animosities would bring more harm than

to prevent more bloodshed and


furthermore, installed its repre-

living based on the legacies

sentatives in Bosnia and Herze-

of the past has been rather

govina and Kosovo.

common in the ex-Yugoslav


Croatia, Bosnia and Her-

republics, but a few steps

zegovina, Serbia, Montenegro

forward have been made so

and Macedonia have been enjoy-

far, with Slovenian and

ing relative stability over the

Croatian accession in the

years, but it seems that war

North Atlantic Treaty Or-

wounds are still unhealed. Even

Press briefing by NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen (Photo: NATO)

though the war hatchets were

ganization and the European Union on the top of the Bal-

buried a decade ago, the mission is yet to be accom-

kan list. On the other side, even though the progress is

plished. The civil society organizations were the integral

evident, the entire region still faces some serious crises

factor in bringing the belligerent sides together and

within their societies and turn to nationalistic and unco-

were eventually revered for the achieved results; alt-

operative agendas, particularly in these times of grave

hough, at the turn of the century, the organizations

economic recession. The roots of these crises, as it will

lacked unity and, in some cases, they distanced them-

be argued in the course of this analysis, lingers within

selves from the ordinary people. The regional stability

the long-lasting issues within civil society networks.

and prosperity depends greatly upon the consolidated

Around 60 representatives from distinguished

and up-to-date civil society sector in the Balkans. This

civil society organizations from Bosnia and Herzegovina,

article will provide an in-depth analysis of the success

Serbia, Croatia, Montenegro and Macedonia gathered

stories, the unexpected transformations and some struc-

for a three-day conference in Sarajevo on April 17th

tural and institutional pitfalls that may put the progress

2012. The representatives from Civil Society Organiza-

of the region into peril.

tions looked back and commended what had been done

Civil Society Crisis In The Countries Of The Western Balkans After decades of ebbs and flows in the politics of Atlantic Voices, Volume 3, Issue 11

in terms of bridging differences and enhancing cooperation across borders. However, they could not help but warn about the mounting gaps between the govern2

otism and clientelism as recognized deficiencies of all

ments and their constituencies. The most alarming situation is visible in Bosnia and

political systems, sustainable development as a precon-

Herzegovina, where the hosts complained about the inef-

dition for economic growth and lastly, the strengthened

fectiveness of the government in creating healthy condi-

regional cooperation and awareness-raising that each

tions for the civil society networks to thrive. This is partly

and every citizen should take part in change-making and

due to the increasing number of governmental organiza-

complete democratization.

tions or those that name themselves non-governmental,

In order to understand the position of the CSOs

but often act as mouthpieces for government officials. In

in the societies of the Western Balkans, it is essential to

Serbia, attention is paid to the collaboration and common

demonstrate how the CSOs have changed over the

platforms among numerous nongovernmental organizations aiming to help the country prepare for the long coveted European Union acces-

years. Accordingly, the analysis will en-

We are not a political organization. However, these events highlight the need to have an open dialogue about the past.

compass the major initiatives of CSOs giving primary focus to reconciliation efforts, post-war trends and adaptation, the consequences of commercialization

sion negotiations. According to many European Union officials, Mon-

and to some extent proliferation of the term CSO or

tenegro is the locomotive in the process of European Un-

NGO as a denouement, in order to provide policy rec-

ion integration. Namely, as Montenegrin representatives at

ommendations and ways forward.

this meeting point out, the civil society networks showed

Civil Society Networks – The Nexus After The

accountability for the democratization not only of Monte-


negro but of the entire region. In the aftermath of the

During the military confrontation among the

widespread popular protests across Montenegro, where

belligerent sides, the civil society networks were the

citizens expressed discontent about severe social problems,

oasis of peace, which took care of refuges and other

many non-governmental organizations partook and united

victims of the prolonged war. In addition, for many

under the same platform.

authoritarian leaders of the nineties, the civil society

In the course of the 10-year accession process to the

sector represented mercenaries and were accordingly

European Union, the civil society organizations did not

labeled as the traitors of the society. Therefore in many

have much influence in Croatia, nor were they permitted

Balkan societies even nowadays, one inevitably still finds

to have it. Two years ago, Croatian civil society networks

this stereotype.

introduced common “Platform 112.� The conditions in

First endeavors towards bridging differences

Macedonia, as it was stated, are somewhat different than in

came from the regions that suffered heavily from the

the rest of the region. Macedonian civil society networks

inability to cease warfare on time. Eventually, they or-

have struggled in coping with an overwhelming distrust

ganized a coalition for RECOM (Regional Commission)

from the majority of Macedonians in their work and future

as a non-political gathering of civil society organizations.


It consists of a network of more than 1 800 non-

Most importantly for the region as a whole, this

governmental organizations, associations, and individu-

conference resulted in a common declaration that urged

als who represent and promote the initiative for

the governments, other CSOs and citizens to act. So-called

RECOM towards the establishment of a Regional Com-

Manifestos consisted of five thematic parts and will tackle

mission tasked with establishing the facts about all vic-

several other components such as: youth participation and

tims of war crimes and other serious human rights viola-

the issues of education, the eradication of corruption, nep-

tions committed on the territory of the Former Yugo-

Atlantic Voices, Volume 3, Issue 11


slavia in the period from 1991-2001 (RECOM).

European Union that opted for a country-by-country strat-

RECOM has been very successful in creating a public

egy rather than tackling the problems on a regional level

space for the reconciliation process that continues even

and with that, forcing regional cooperation.

to this day. Recently, in light of the recent acquittal of

Post-War Trends: Democratization, Transfor-

several Croatian wartime generals from the Hague tri-

mation, Regionalization, Commercialization

bunal, RECOM facilitated a series of discussions with

During the late nineties, when the situation was still

academics and artists of the former Yugoslavia on jus-

sensitive and part of the Balkans was awaiting another crisis

tice and reconciliation seen from their perspective.

(Kosovo 1999), NGOs and other networks focused on

Amongst other initiatives, the ones worth mentioning

social tasks, substituting the public sector of the govern-

certainly are: documentation of human fatalities and

ment that was going through hardships due to international

missing persons in Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina,

pressure and record-high inflation rates. The government

Serbia, Montenegro, Macedonia and Kosovo, public

of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (Serbia and Monte-

debates around the region, working groups, and youth

negro after 2001) was excoriated for the growing pressure

activities that gained overwhelming support from the

and persecution of the political opposition and civil society



networks that sided with the “Resistance Move-

and from the current lead-

ment” (Otpor). The social prob-

ers of the governments.

lems were exacerbating with

The Commission is

every passing year, which even-

yet to be created, only

tually led to the massive protests,

because of the political

abolition of tyranny, open and

disagreements between the

free parliamentary elections and a

leaders of Serbia and Bos-

freely democratically elected

nia and Herzegovina, re-

government. In this context, Civil Soci-

garding the genocide in Srebrenica.






Dautbegovic Bosnjakovic,

prompted the change. At that

the executive director of

time, the well-known think tank




The Balkans (Photo:

Justice, Accountability and Remembrance in Bosnia and Herzegovina’ is explicit:

G17+ was responsible for political and economic programs for

the Democratic Opposition of Serbia.

“We are not a political organization. However,

In Bosnia, the civil society sector was flourishing,

these events highlight the need to have an open

mainly by continuing to provide humanitarian aid, psycho-

dialogue about the past. Young people want coop-

logical and social care, relief, reconstruction, but also the

eration and a better future. It is important we dis-

entrepreneurship recommendations and suggestions. One

cuss and let go of the legacy of the past in order to

of those that successfully collaborated with the state au-

move forward, for the sake of new generations”

thorities was the Independent Bureau for Humanitarian

The concentration on “regional” is of paramount

Issues, particularly for taking the initiative and recom-

significance at the political level, since the challenges in

mending that the state coordinate the social protection,

the Balkans are regional in origin and manifestation.

while encouraging NGOs to provide support for the man-

This paradigm is an alternative approach towards the

agement of joint programs.

Atlantic Voices, Volume 3, Issue 11


Sonja Licht is the president and founder of the Bel-

plary initiative of 15 civil society organizations from 10

grade Fund for Political Excellence, which is the NGO

countries of the region, including Albania, Romania and

operating under the auspices of the Council of Europe. Ms.

Turkey. The goals and objectives encompass: strengthen-

Licht has been a venerable activist and lobbyist and is un-

ing the voice of the civil society in policy and decision

questionably one of the most merited activists in Serbia. In

making at national, regional and EU levels, promoting civil

a recent interview, Ms. Licht reiterates that the presence

dialogue between the civil society actors, state institutions

of international organizations has turned out to be vital for the consolidation of the civil society sector in the countries of the West-

Although CSOs were growing by the turn of the century, it seemed that many of them slowly started losing their orientation and failed to cope with the radical changes

ern Balkans. She is straightfor-

and the European Union in order to influence public policies, developing advocacy knowledge and skills as a base for the greater impact and strengthening of com-

ward in her statement that, even though progress is per-

munication, coordination and cooperation between the

ceptible, the full potential of the civil society networks is

civil society actors in the Balkans. The network was offi-

still to be uncovered:

cially launched on July 6th 2009 in Skopje, Macedonia, and

“Civil society could play a much more active role in

since September 2009 has been legally registered.

opening new ways of communications and building

The BCSDN has been very active in bringing to-

bridges between various groups, by initiating public

gether even more CSOs under its belt, having assisted the

dialogue about difficult issues that concern the rela-

conferences around the region, for instance, on linking

tions between the locals and the people with migrant

lifelong learning and civil society development in Podgori-

background…Civil society should also play a more

ca among many others. It has been privileged to represent

prominent role in lifelong education.”

the Balkan region within the European Year of Citizens

On media transformation Ms. Licht reiterates:

initiative, following the European Commission’s designa-

“It is sad to witness how independent, autonomous and

tion of the year 2013 as the celebration of the 20th anniver-

progressive media- outlets that fought a courageous

sary of enacting the European Union Citizenship.

battle against autocratic and nationalistic regimes of

Transformation and Challenges

the nineties both in Serbia and Croatia-have been dis-

Although CSOs were growing by the turn of the

appearing since they were not able to cope with the

century, it seemed that many of them slowly started losing

primitive but omnipotent commercialization of the

their orientation and failed to cope with the radical chang-


es. The abrupt increase in the number of civil society or-

The Belgrade Fund for Political Excellence

ganizations augmented the competition, which still had a

launched the Belgrade Security Forum, where debates on

negative connotation in some areas of the Balkan Peninsu-

regional cooperation, the transformation of the Balkans

la. Non-governmental sectors around the region reported

and the role of civil society networks in the securitization

that the foreign donations plummeted, which unfortunate-

of the region took place. Last year the Belgrade Security

ly resulted in startling animosity. In this case, the missions

Forum had over 70 foreign dignitaries and according to the

of different NGOs were replicated, with no follow up or

media coverage and the public response, it was a success

coordination whatsoever. This is not to say that the civil


society networks ceased to have impact, monitor and With the motto “democracy, diversity, develop-

change, but if there had been more common platforms,

ment, justice, integration, cooperation” Balkan Civil Socie-

initiatives and actions on the national level, this impact

ty Development Network (BCSDN) is certainly the exem-

would have been automatically reflected upon the entire

Atlantic Voices, Volume 3, Issue 11


region. Namely, the situation of strained relationships

and the many small, institutionally weak CSOs.”

among networks hurts all stakeholders in the process; min-

The 2011 Sustainability Index specifies the challeng-

istries and government agencies are disillusioned to coop-

es in the category of the financial viability of the CSOs.

erate with fewer NGOs who cannot find common ground

Hence, the Western Balkans, following the analysis of

with others; donors are reluctant to invest for the same

USAID, is still far behind Central European countries pri-

reason but also cite poor results on the field, lack of strate-

marily. The average score for the Balkan region (excluding

gic planning, clarified missions and budgeting, while to the

Slovenia) is 4.7, whereas the Central European region with

citizens, it seems like a giant race for money, when they

Baltic States scores 3.2.

themselves have difficulties in finding employment, feeding

“Financial viability of CSOs in the Southern Tier also

their families, not living off loans, paying taxes etc.

deteriorated slightly in 2011, with Bulgaria, Croatia,

Initial overlapping in

Romania, and Serbia all reporting the

the statutes of different non-

availability of fewer resources. All four

governmental organizations,

of these countries noted decreases in

when more than three organi-

government funding of the sector,

zations were designated to

while EU funding - the only significant

tackle issues from the same

source of international funding - re-

field on a relatively small ter-

mains inaccessible to most organiza-

ritory, precluded them from

tions. Macedonia also mentions that

joining strengths and combin-

many foreign donors are reducing or

ing expertise and experience.

ending their support to programs in the

However, greater commer-

country. Domestic philanthropy

cialization or allure to money

throughout the region has been slow to

for the ordinary people dis-

Zagreb (Photo:

develop, particularly among individu-

tanced these organizations from their constituency and in


certain situations, even donors. For instance, in keeping

As for advocacy, Serbia and Croatia experienced signif-

with the CSO Sustainability Index for Europe and Eurasia

icant improvement compared to previous reports. Civil

prepared by USAID, Montenegro has a 4.1 CSO Sustaina-

Society Organizations in Serbia, mostly due to the pressure

bility Rate which indicates that CSO’s sustainability is still

from the European Union, found themselves in more fa-

evolving. On organizational capacity the report thereby

vorable position vis-à-vis the state authorities.


The Road Ahead: Less Could Bring More

“CSOs still maintain weak relationships with their con-

The pace of development of Civil Society Organiza-

stituents and primarily represent the narrow interests

tions is still at a satisfactory level. However, this develop-

of CSO leaders. Only large CSOs, predominantly in

ment is about to be hindered by the severe socio-economic

Podgorica, have the capacity to tackle long-term, na-

conditions that have been prevalent since the beginning of

tionwide issues that can capture public attention, such

the 2008 financial crisis. All states have experienced a drop

as corruption and labor issues.”

in the productivity and the rise of unemployment, particu-

The report also indicates that “public attention and

larly among the youngest population. Even worse, there

support is thus focused on these CSOs, thereby widening

are numerous cases where the youth is visionless in their

the gap between the few professional and influential CSOs

own countries, so they seek opportunities to study and

Atlantic Voices, Volume 3, Issue 11


work abroad. More NGOs in the Balkan context is a reflec-

fectively measured the pulse of the war-torn societies and

tion of the misguided policies not only from the states, but

helped facilitate reconciliation in a meaningful way.

from the international community as well. The challenge that lies ahead of all stakeholders involved in the process is

About the author

to find alternatives to motivate the youth by providing eco-

Vladimir Rakocevic is an Erasmus Mundus analyst from the

nomic perspectives and professional opportunities for this

Atlantic Council of Montenegro who has taken part in nu-

target group. Unsurprisingly, many protests that swept Slo-

merous YATA activities since 2012. He is currently obtaining

venian, Serbian and Montenegrin streets were the manifes-

his Master's degree from Erasmus Mundus Global Studies

tation of the students’ voices. More job opportunities will

Program. As part of the program, he is presently researching

strengthen the position of the youth within the region,

on South-East Asian security challenges from Australian per-

which will bring more cohesive efforts to complete recon-

spective at Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia. Mr.

ciliatory processes in the region; This would take into ac-

Rakocevic expresses his immense gratitude to the The Danish

count the youth’s preparedness to finally end the era of con-

Atlantic Treaty Association for the given support during re-

flicts and write a new chapter on the Balkans as the integral


and competitive region among the re-

This article has been based on the fol-

gions of modern-day Europe. As for the international community still present in the region and its relationship to the CSOs, there has to

CSOs still maintain weak relationships with their constituents and primarily represent the narrow interests of CSO leaders

be a willingness to foster CSOs throughout the region to develop think tank/policy research characteristics that remain scarce across the Balkans. Confidence will be strengthened among the partners in the process, with international organizations consulting various CSOs on policy formulation or law drafting. Above all, international organizations should encourage CSOs to pay attention to strategic planning and mission formulation, following the demands of the market. Finally, “the less is more” paradigm is the viewpoint that needs to be reconsidered among the policy makers and donors within the international community. “The less” can refer to the money, focusing on the less exigent projects with fewer prerequisites. The aim should remain the same, but the focus should be set on prioritized policy actions. Time is working in favor of the Balkan Civil Society Networks. In spite of the enormous success that was made in the process of reconciliation, the CSOs need to continue to demonstrate the success of compromise and common platforms, using the nineties as an example, when they ef-

Atlantic Voices, Volume 3, Issue 11

lowing articles:

1. Aleksandar Boskovic, “The tolerance and Alterity in South Eastern Europe”, in Dane R. Gordon & Davic C. Durst Civil Society in South East Europe (Amsterdam:Rodopi, 2004) 2. civilno_drustvo_zemalja_zapadnog_balkana_je_u_kriz/24551417.h tml 3. Platform 112 in Croatia, index.php?page=article_news&article_id=711&lang=en 4. civilno_drustvo_zemalja_zapadnog_balkana_je_u_kriz/24551417.h tml 5. Thomas Carothers, “Civil Society: Think Again”, in Critical Mission: Essays on Democracy Promotion: Washington DC, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 2004), 6. 7. Sonja Licht’s interview, serbia/2011/09/10/civil-society%E2%80%99s-continuing-role -in-serbia-and-the-western-balkans-interview-with-sonja-licht/ 8., focus on midterm plan strategy, 9. CSO Sustainability Index prepared by USAID for Europe and Eurasia, 2011 report for Montenegro, http:// ngoindex/ reports/2011/2011CSOSI_Index_complete.pdf#page=153 10. dem_gov/ngoindex/ reports/2011/2011CSOSI_Index_complete.pdf#page=22 11. Richard Caplan, International Governance of War-Torn Territories (Oxford: OUP, 2005) 7

Bosnia and Herzegovina: On The Way Towards NATO & The EU


ven for a new country like Bosnia and Herze-

the Dayton Agreement less than 20 years ago, creating

govina (BiH), developing a national culture and

with it, two independent entities, the Federation of Bos-

identity is not as important as setting up the

nia and Herzegovina, and the Republic of Srpska.

foundation for a sound and efficient government. As such,

The Burden of BiH

the fledgling country has found itself caught in a perpetual

Of course, Bosnia and Herzegovina’s problems

struggle between the romantic will of the people, and a

today are far from limited to just a matter of borders. As a

realistic desire for good governance. The contradiction is

result of the suffering inflicted on the local population by

not lost on the founders of global and regional institutions,

the war, the country’s political system is, in essence, in-

and thus far, such global institutions have devoted much of

defensible. However, it would be irresponsible and un-

their diplomatic efforts to the preservation of order and

ethical for the rest of the world to isolate, bypass, or



avoid the impoverished countries of former Yugoslavia,

least in part, they

like Bosnia and Herze-

have been success-

govina. The problem

ful. This is evident

then, resides not only in

following the end

the political structure of


of World War II, where a global em-

Press briefing by NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen (Photo: NATO)

the country, but also in its



phasis on the bal-

weakness. Couple this

ance of power be-

with a weak national

tween the Soviet

identity, divisive gov-



ernment policy, an apa-

West was a strate-

thetic voting popula-


gy maintained as a

Sarajevo in Winter (Photo:

tion, and the still living

way of preventing the encroachment of communism and

vestiges of communism, we begin to see the greater pic-

other authoritarian regimes.

ture. Bosnia and Herzegovina, like most countries in the

The rise of the nation-state has been both a cause

Balkans post-World War I, has had to shoulder the bur-

and a consequence of the modern world, and has allowed

den of a divided society, making the effort to bear with

for the absorption of tribal memories. These new states

adversely drawn borders, adverse political theory, and

imply a narrow identity, and have forged imaginary com-

even more adverse political practice, all under the auspi-

munities built upon borderlines rather than culture. As a

ces of a torrid economic situation (rampant unemploy-

new democracy, Bosnia and Herzegovina exemplifies this

ment, lack of industry and manufacturing sectors etc.).

kind of fabricated nation, having just been formed under

Contentious political elites, short-sighted envy, and impossible ideas come complete with a distinct lack of tech-

Atlantic Voices, Volume 3, Issue 11


nocratic bureaucracy, which is preventing them from recogniz-

ness, equality, mutual recognition of sovereignty and terri-

ing and following a rational self-interest for the nation.

torial integrity, as well as principles of peaceful coopera-

After the armed conflict, reconstruction and rebuilding

tion among nations and an appreciation of their mutual

of the country has become a central issue in Bosnian foreign

interests. Bosnia and Herzegovina strongly advocates for

policy. In a narrower sense of post–war Bosnia and Herze-

peaceful solutions amidst international disagreements and

govina, the crisis of dual authorities also presents a unique

conflicts, showing appreciation for the principles that rep-

conflict. When the world leaders come to the negotiating

resent the integral part of international law. In accordance

table, they bring with them their own decisions, opinions,

with UN resolutions, Bosnia and Herzegovina is deter-

and ideas for their citizens. They know how much they can

mined to continue its fight against terrorism and organized

give in return for what their people want. They know how

crime. Above all, Bosnia and Herze-

each question raised at the table will influence domestic politics and the interests of their country. In a real sense, each leader is a hostage to this reality. So then, a leader, who enters negotia-

So then, a leader, who enters negotiations without the full backing and control of his or her country, is inherently unprepared and woefully insecure.

tions without the full backing and con-

govina’s priority has been to strengthen global cooperation and compliance with Euro-Atlantic security structures, as it seeks a greater institutionalization of its relationship with the North Atlantic

trol of his or her country, is inherently unprepared and woe-

Treaty Organization (NATO). This is evidenced by the

fully insecure. This illustrates the crisis that Bosnia and Her-

many directives and activities of the country’s foreign poli-

zegovina is currently passing through, and it is a result of poli-

tics that advocates full accession into EU by manner of

ticians promoting a national identity instead of seeking great-

adopting the convergence criteria necessary for creating a

er integration and coordination with NATO and the EU.

stable and functional member state. The process of build-

Moving Towards NATO & EU

ing peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina demands the estab-

Integration with these organizations becomes vital after looking at the country’s geographic location, and taking ac-

lishment of civil society structures and the attainment of an internal integration of the country.

count of its capabilities. The small city of Neum is Bosnia and

Bosnia and Herzegovina has been working for sev-

Herzegovina’s only port, and the country’s only access to the

eral years in the Partnership for Peace (PfP). It is now on

Mediterranean and the Atlantic. The rest of the country is

Bosnia and Herzegovina to solve a problem of immovable

surrounded by the former Yugoslavian countries: Serbia,

army property on 69 land-registered locations and to share

Croatia and Montenegro. Geographically, B&H lacks the pro-

advantages and risks. NATO headquarters in Sarajevo is

tective barriers capable of repelling the large land wars which

working together with the Ministry of Defence and has

devastated continental Europe during the two World Wars,

given its absolute support. Many other countries are also

providing the state no favours of defense should they find

actively supporting the development of Bosnia and Herze-

themselves under attack. As a result, the foreign politics of

govina’s armed forces, and some of them are coordinating

Bosnia and Herzegovina, which in many ways is merely a con-

this through the NATO HQ in Sarajevo.

tinuation of the country’s domestic politics, maintains its

Turkey is one such country that has helped work on

sight on its geographic interests, including the protection of

the improvement and promotion of these activities, having

its natural resources, and protection against the threats posed

donated various equipment including: mobile, hand, and

by its regional neighbours. This political perspective takes

transport radio apparatuses, as well as providing profes-

into account all of the assets and liabilities of the country such

sional instruction-training for the usage of them. This is

as: its army, population, natural resources, and intellectual

one of many typical contributions that neighbour states

potential as it seeks to foment its regional position and culti-

have provided Bosnia and Herzegovina, and all have had

vate a stronger nation.

similarly positive impacts. In fact, most training operations

Bosnia and Herzegovina’s international doctrine, and its

conducted by the B&H armed forces are done so jointly,

focus in foreign policy emanates from the principles of open-

emphasizing the cooperation between nations and their

Atlantic Voices, Volume 3, Issue 11


willingness to train and teach. This joint cooperation

Membership in NATO has fomented peace and

is the typical manner in which Bosnia and Herzegovina

security in this region over the long term, and is there-

envisions its involvement in international affairs, espe-

fore crucial for Bosnia and Herzegovina and the rest of

cially as a member of

the region. Croatia is already

NATO. And with this

a member of NATO, Monte-

kind of involvement, it is

negro is stepping forward

the hope that the repre-

very successfully, and Serbia

sentatives of the constitu-

has also shown that they are

tive people of Serb eth-

open to the idea. In Bosnia

nicity in the Republic of

and Herzegovina, most of the

Srpska, will realize them-

citizens in the Federation are

selves the importance and

supporting such an idea about

necessity of Bosnia and

NATO, and the perception in


Republic of Srpska is slowly


NATO and the EU.

starting to shift towards a positive connotation. Civil

The membership of Bosnia and Herze-

The city of Neum is BiH’s only port. (Photo:

society in Bosnia and Herze-

govina in NATO would create security and assurance

govina participates actively in its bid towards joining

of safety, as well as a prolonged preservation of peace.

NATO and the EU, and it is vital that they continue this

It becomes necessary for the citizens and politicians of

contribution with their participation in the implementa-

Bosnia and Herzegovina to become more informed

tion of peace and the Membership Action Plan (MAP)

about the role of NATO in society, and for them to

for the country.

fully understand the benefits that the alliance will

The Atlantic Council of BiH

bring to their everyday lives. It is very important that

The Atlantic Council of Bosnia and Herzegovina

NATO integration and all other major political hap-

was founded on October 25, 2012 in Sarajevo and is

penings be set on an agenda that will remain open to

comprised of members of B&H constitutive peoples in-

the public in order to give all citizens the opportunity

cluding: Bosniaks, Croats and Serbs as well as the minor-

to see how important it is that they consent in joining

ities of the Jewish and Romanian people. The Atlantic Council of Bosnia and Herzegovina is

NATO. By entering NATO, the door to joining the EU

aiming to promote the membership of Bosnia and Herze-

opens. Though, it should be made clear that NATO is

govina in NATO and EU . The Atlantic Council of BiH

not merely an intermediary step along the way to the

believes strong that:

greater goal of joining the EU—far from it. For Bos-

Improvement of individual and collective con-

nia and Herzegovina, membership in NATO, the

sciousness is important for protection and securi-

most powerful military alliance in the world, is not

ty, which NATO renders to us.

only a desire, but also a rational choice, especially

Improvement of knowledge and informing stu-

when the fact that Bosnia and Herzegovina lacks any

dents, youngsters, and citizens about the NATO

allies with serious clout and powerful influence (save


perhaps for Turkey). Aligning with the USA then,

Education of citizens about NATO, guiding the

could serve as a good starting point to Bosnia and

young people through programmes in school,

Herzegovina, and it could seek to emulate the part-

universities, political communities, civil societies

nership Turkey has struck with the USA, as the Amer-


icans may look fondly on securing another ally in this part of the world. Atlantic Voices, Volume 3, Issue 11

Versatile project activities about the role of NATO in society. 10

Pointing out the benefits of membership in the

the same university. At the end of the program an

NATO alliance, and calling for responsibility

agreement was signed forging a partnership with the

through public appearances, conferences, and

Union of Students of the Republic of Srpska and the

public statements.

NGO Network of Republic of Srpska.

Issuance and distribution of publications, organiz-

It was a major step for the organization and for

ing round tables, seminars, conventions, drafting

the nation to forge a partnership with countries from

multi-media contents whose purpose is promotion

across the region. We remain open to everyone who

and reaction on the above mentioned activities.

supports our ideas about a partnership for peace and strong NATO alliance. We have a priority to work with

In the past several months since the inception of

young people, especially university students. We also

The Atlantic Council of BiH, countless programs have

hope to work with all citizens in Bosnia and Herze-

been initiated. We have seen an increase in participation

govina who actively participate in politics, NGO’s, or civil service.

of younger participants in our YATA and ATC programs, as well as an increase in the number of

representatives in the

NATO school on the island of Koločep.

It becomes necessary for the citizens and politicians of Bosnia and Herzegovina to become more informed about the role of NATO in society

Overall, Bosnia and Herzegovina is a very complex country, deeply

This project is organized by the Atlantic



Council of Croatia and NATO Defence of Brussels. We

years of war and bloodshed, and it is very aware of the

have had supervision and guidance from the Secretary

fact that it can not progress alone. Even the strongest

General of the Atlantic Treaty Association headquartered

countries cannot guarantee security and uphold peace

in Brussels, Mr. Giuseppe Belardetti. Mr. Berlardetti

by themselves. We are unable to change the past but we

lectured the students at the Military Academy in Saraje-

can work towards the future. Linked membership of

vo, and accompanied them on visits to the Embassy of the

Bosnia and Herzegovina to NATO will allow for count-

United States of America and visits to the Ministries of

less military, political, and economic advantages. This is

Defence and Interior. One of our newer programs is a

crucial to the survival of a young and fragile nation and

public forum around the topic of Bosnia and Herze-

region. The completion of securing the region, advanc-

govina’s relations with NATO. Leading the discussion

ing a cohesive defence strategy and building a political

was the assistant to the Minister of Defence, Mr. Zoran

and economic consensus are more difficult to achieve


when a country is passing through the transitional pro-

Another guest lecturer of our program has been

cess. Each country that is linked to NATO, can seek

the Turkish Ambassador to Croatia, the honourable Mr.

peace, but should make assurances of all other benefits.

Burak Özugergin. He held a lecture for students of the

Membership in NATO is an assurance of peace, democ-

Police Academy, which is part of the Ministry of Interior

racy, freedom, and stability of the country. Peace is the

in Sarajevo. The content of the lecture was on the role of

fundamental precondition of each righteous democratic

NATO and Turkey. Our program also allowed us initial

society. NATO is the tool that is needed.

cooperation with the B&H Ministry of Defence. This past summer we have spent time working with the Atlantic

About the author

Council of Croatia and NATO’s school on the island of

Dr. Dijana Gupta is the President of the Atlantic Coun-

Koločep. Along with members of the Atlantic Council of

cil of Bosnia and Herzegovina and is the author of many

Bosnia and Herzegovina, there were participating repre-

international relations, media, and political articles. She

sentatives of the B&H Ministry of Safety, Ministry of De-

is a professor of Social Sciences at the University

fence, students and professors of the University Džemal

Đžemal Bijedić and a member of the International As-

Bijedić in Mostar, rector from the International Universi-

sociation of Journalists.

ty of Novi Pazar, and the mufti Muamer Zukorlić from Atlantic Voices, Volume 3, Issue 11


ATA Programs From December 9th-11th the 59th General Assembly is to be held in Brussels, Belgium. More information can be accessed here. The event will host a series of prominent speakers and scholars hosting discussions on the most important issues of the day.

Atlantic Voices is the monthly publication of the Atlantic Treaty Association. It aims to inform the debate on key issues that affect the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, its goals and its future. The work published in Atlantic Voices is written by young professionals and researchers. The Atlantic Treaty Association (ATA) is an international nongovernmental organization based in Brussels working to facilitate global networks and the sharing of knowledge on transatlantic cooperation and security. By convening political, diplomatic and military leaders with

From November 11-12th the 10th Assembly of the NATOUkraine Civic League was held in the RUS hotel. The event consisted of a presentation of publications and discussions by prominent political figures. The main topic was: The Role of Civil Society in Ukraine– NATO relations.

academics, media representatives and young professionals, the ATA promotes the values set forth in the North Atlantic Treaty: Democracy, Freedom, Liberty, Peace, Security and Rule of Law. The ATA membership extends to 37 countries from North America to the Caucasus throughout Europe. In 1996, the Youth Atlantic Treaty Association (YATA) was created to specifially include to the successor generation in our work. Since 1954, the ATA has advanced the public’s knowledge and understanding of the importance of joint efforts to transatlantic security through its international programs, such as the Central and South Eastern European Security Forum, the Ukraine Dialogue and its Educational Platform.

On 5 November, The ATA hosted a cyber security workshop in Brussels, Belgium. The main focus of this event was a seminar from Brussels based experts on transatlantic cyber affairs. Our experts have examined the legal backing, current technology and its uses, and many other important issues regarding cyber-security. Atlantic Voices is always seeking new material. If you are a young researcher, subject expert or professional and feel you have a valuable contribution to make to the debate, then please get in touch. We are looking for papers, essays, and book reviews on issues of importance to the NATO Alliance. For details of how to submit your work please see our website. Further enquiries can also be directed to the ATA Secretariat at the address listed below. Editors: Bret Matera and Brendan Beroff Images should not be reproduced without permission from sources listed, and remain the sole property of those sources. Unless otherwise stated, all images are the property of NATO.

In 2011, the ATA adopted a new set of strategic goals that reflects the constantly evolving dynamics of international cooperation. These goals include:

the establishment of new and competitive programs on international security issues.

the development of research initiatives and security-related events for its members.

the expansion of ATA’s international network of experts to countries in Northern Africa and Asia. The ATA is realizing these goals through new programs, more policy

activism and greater emphasis on joint research initiatives. These programs will also aid in the establishment of a network of international policy experts and professionals engaged in a dialogue with NATO.

The views expressed in this article are entirely those of the authors. They do not necessarily represent the views of the Atlantic Treaty Association, its members, affiliates or staff.

This publication is co co--sponsored by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization

Atlantic Voices Vol. 3, No. 11 (November 2013)  

Vladimir Rakocevic discusses the state of civil society organizations in the Balkans, and what these organizations can do to help encourage...

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