Serbia is a part of European integration, but it maintains close relations with Russia, which the NATO considers interesting and is monitoring attentively, stated an anonymous NATO official at the Alliance summit in Madrid, pointing out that the NATO respects the military neutrality of Serbia.

The only country in the Western Balkans that has been pointed out with special consideration at the summit is Bosnia and Herzegovina. Namely, the heads of state and governments in the NATO Alliance have “greenlit” the Alliance to declare Bosnia and Herzegovina as a strategically important country for this bloc. In that sense, they made a decision to grant them a package of additional support in building defense capacities.

The increased NATO engagement includes practical and political support introduced due to possible, as it was called, fall under the influence of Russia, with a note that “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”. Those activities include strengthening the fight against disinformation and the “malignant Russian influence”.

According to the anonymous high-ranking NATO official at the summit in Madrid, they are considering introducing a political liaison in the NATO headquarters in Sarajevo, which for now only has military capacities. In addition, they plan to increase the number of staff in the NATO headquarters in Sarajevo, which would strengthen capacities in the sense of strengthening cooperation.

Seeing as the NATO decision involves only creating a framework for cooperation, the anonymous official stated that they will be working with counterparts in Bosnia and Herzegovina on developing that package through the end of the year. The NATO official also said that the final decision remains on Bosnia and Herzegovina’s part regarding whether it wishes to continue on the Euro-Atlantic path, and whether Bosnia and Herzegovina is an aspiring member for the NATO.

As a reminder, the Republic of Srpska, as a constituent part of Bosnia and Herzegovina, categorically rejects the membership of Bosnia and Herzegovina in the NATO Alliance, which bombed the Republic of Srpska in 1995.