UNsatisfied? The Rocky Path to NATO Membership – Bosnia and Herzegovina: A New Approach in Understanding the Challenges

Abstract

NATO’s enlargement in the Western Balkans (WB) has been the focus of a number of debates for almost two decades. Opinions and positions regarding this question range from serious doubts, criticisms and opportunistic press releases to enthusiastic support for membership. This paper assesses Bosnian reforms and policy changes, as well as the country’s efforts to join NATO. Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) has made significant steps in moving towards NATO’s military and political standards, but not sufficiently. Although BiH is viewed by some observers as a country approaching the point of joining the Membership Action Plan (MAP), this prospect remains uncertain. The findings of this research suggest that BiH is different from other WB countries and that it is not suitable for understanding the NATO integration challenges in the WB. In order to understand Bosnian ‘specifics’, it is necessary not only to view the challenges through the prism of technical and other domestic issues in BiH. A wider approach must be adopted. Through understanding the Bosnian specifics, the dilemmas related to the NATO membership of BiH become more obvious and clear. Bosnian specifics illustrate why BiH is not able to take significant steps towards long-term stabilization and NATO membership.

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