The UN Security Council has voted to extend the EURFOR military mission in Bosnia. Russia abstained from voting to extend the EU peacekeeping force, saying Brussels’ influence should not be imposed on the country.
The UN Security Council voted on Monday to extend the European Union peacekeeping mission in Bosnia for another year. Russia abstained from voting, instead of using its veto power as a permanent member of the Security Council.
It was the first time in 14 years that a member declined to support EURFOR, which has been working in Bosnia since the 1992-1995 civil war and was meant to calm tensions between Bosnia’s Bosniaks, Croats and Serbs.
Observers say Russia aims to stem Europe’s role in eastern Europe – an issue that has played a role in the war in Ukraine, where a pro-Russian insurgency has battled a Europe-leaning Ukrainian government for months.
Vitaly Churkin, Russia’s ambassador to the UN, rejected the proposal on Tuesday, saying any movement by Bosnia toward the EU “cannot be forced from the outside.”
He agreed that EURFOR had played an important role, but “at the same time, we are against having an international presence in the field of security that could be viewed as an instrument to accelerate the integration for the country into the European Union and NATO.”
Valentin Inzko, the UN high representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina spoke of the country’s need to change the “vicious downward cycle of tit-for-tat politics.”
Bosnian Ambassador Mirsada Colakovic told the UN Security Council the country was looking forward to “moving to the next stage of the integration process” with the EU.
Britain’s representative Michael Tatham called Russia’s position “cynical and deeply regrettable.” He said the implication that movement toward joining the EU was imposed from outside showed contempt for Bosnians.