ZAGREB, April 5, 2018 – Members of the European Parliament’s Subcommittee on Security and Defence (SEDE) said in Sarajevo on Thursday that terrorism and the migrant crisis are a common problem of EU member states and the Western Balkans which is directly affected and requires a joint and coordinated approach to face those challenges.
Following a two-day visit to Bosnia and Herzegovina, SEDE president Anna Elzbieta Fotyga told reporters that a second visit to the region in this format in the present European Parliament bears witness to just how important the region and Bosnia and Herzegovina are. The security of the Western Balkans, including Bosnia and Herzegovina, is especially significant to us, Fotyga said, underscoring that the European Parliament is determined to keep the EU’s Althea military mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Croatian MEP Tonino Picula said that it is clear that security issues are now dominant in EU member states. “Had you asked the average EU citizen three or four years ago what problems were the most significant, economic and social issues would dominate and now they are security issues,” Picula said.
He recalled that in 2015 the EU quickly reacted and adopted the proposal about quotas to buffer the migrant crisis, which has not been complied with. “Serious debates have opened on how to share solidarity among EU member states and those debates are still continuing,” he said and warned that Bosnia has a special problem because it would not be able to cope with the increased influx of refugees on its own.
During the talks with the country’s officials, members of SEDE were informed that 500 border police jobs have still not been filled and there is no accommodation for migrants or financial resources for this purpose, which is why it is necessary to help Bosnia and Herzegovina and other countries in the region so that they can cope with this problem. “This is a security, political and humanitarian issue and 2015 must not be repeated,” Picula underscored.
Asked about the danger of Islamic radicalism in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Picula said that everyone in the country is aware of that problem, but that it is essential to talk “about facts and not interpretations.” “Things are under control… I don’t think that the problem should be ignored, but it shouldn’t be given a dimension that it doesn’t have,” he said.
Picula said that the EP is aware of the problem but it will adopt decisions based only on facts, including the one that authorities in Bosnia and Herzegovina are treating the problem of radicalism “responsibly”.