There is a well-known formula for problems on the domestic stage — divert attention towards the international stage. Johnson copied it from Clinton, who had inflicted a lot of harm on the Balkans because of his personal marital affair.

The announcement of the British Prime Minister Boris Johnson that he would be sending military experts to Bosnia and Herzegovina in order to combat “the Russian influence” and to “strengthen the mission of the NATO and advance the stability and security” in the country has been met with conflicting reactions within Bosnia and Herzegovina itself.

It is no wonder, seeing as the clarification brought up by Johnson has completely laid bare his intentions and unambiguously pointed to who he was taking aim at: “We cannot allow the Western Balkans to become yet another playground for the Russian President Vladimir Putin and his pernicious pursuits. By spreading the flame of secessionism and sectarianism, Russia is seeking to turn around the successes made in Bosnia and Herzegovina over the previous three decades”.

A military expert to fight against the disinformation and an advisor for strategic civilian defense, along with £750,000 pounds sterling required to establish a Center for Cyber Security within the University of Sarajevo, ought to be a sufficiently strong means of protecting Bosnia and Herzegovina, according to the announcement from the Office of the British Prime Minister.

This Has Been Seen Before

The decision of the British Prime Minister bears a strong resemblance to a similar decision from the early months of 2018, also an election year, when the British government had decided to form a unit for preventive actions for the Western Balkans, a battalion which would consist of 600 members of the elite SAS formation, guys who had just arrived from Syria.

This decision by the Government of the United Kingdom was preceded by a discussion brought up in the House of Lords by a delegation that had spent time in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The conclusion was more than clear — the United Kingdom must return to the Balkans (even though it was packing its suitcases preparing to leave the European Union). The Balkans had been qualified as an area of vital interest for the United Kingdom.

There was speculation that the British battalion would be stationed out of the Tuzla airport and it was deployed along the border with Serbia, in the event that the ethnically based tensions in Bosnia and Herzegovina should escalate, which might also lead into an armed conflict. The United Kingdom decided to send in a military force and “return to the Balkans” in that manner.

And for the deployment of military forces for the sake of “peace in Bosnia” to have a rationale in the wider, but also the British public, The Guardian worked persistently on reporting the fabrications cooked up in the Sarajevo kitchen about the creation of paramilitary formations within Srpska and the “illegal arming” of the Srpska police.

The British military contingent arrived to Bosnia and Herzegovina after all, but to the Sarajevo airport instead of the Tuzla one, and it was stationed in a base in Butmir near Sarajevo.

It was a unit that had arrived from Kent, specialized for upholding public order and peace. The rioting in Banja Luka had not come to pass because the opposition rally held on October 5 “deflated”, that is, the Srpska Police had things under control. And despite the rumors that there would be no election, it was held.

Now, again in an election year, the British Prime Minister is concerning himself with the development of democracy, but also with the “malignant influence” that just so remained present in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

What Is Johnson’s Problem?

Keeping with the decision of the United Nations Security Council, a military component of the EUFOR is present in Bosnia and Herzegovina before the European Union in the scope of the Operation Althea. The EUFOR has also received additional forces, to preserve the peace. The general statement of the officials of this mission is that the peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina is not threatened.

So what, then, upset the British Prime Minister?

The greatest deal of his problems is coming from his own Parliament, which recently held a vote of no confidence in him, and every now and then there is an incident, such as the recent one with the Member of Parliament Chris Pincher, who was suspended by the Conservative party due to an incident he had caused while inebriated.

Announcements are coming in from Scotland about holding a new referendum on independence.

The Prime Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon has announced that she was planning to hold a second referendum on the independence of Scotland in October next year, along with a promise to take legal steps to secure the vote — should the British government attempt to block it.

There is a well-known formula for problems on the domestic stage — divert attention towards the international stage. Johnson knows this, as well as the former President of the United States Bill Clinton, who had inflicted a lot of harm on the Balkans with the aim of covering up his affair with Monica Lewinsky.

Add to it the United Kingdom’s desire to restore its imperial glory and once again become an important geopolitical player along with the United States (now unhindered in its foreign policy by its obligations as a member of the European Union), the concern for the Balkans becomes easy to understand.

What About Ankara, Belgrade, Zagreb?

If Boris Johnson is giving himself the right to take care of Bosnia and Herzegovina, then does the Turkish President Erdoğan have the same right? Maybe he would like to send some military experts to Bosnia and Herzegovina as well.

Can the President of the neighboring Croatia, one of the guarantors of the Dayton Agreement, send soldiers to Mostar to take care of the violated rights of the Croatians?

May the Serbian President Vučić send in a military unit to hold a military exercise near Banja Luka, which was already scheduled and then canceled?

The announcement of the British Prime Minister deeply encroaches on the sovereignty of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Now we shall see how sovereign Bosnia and Herzegovina actually is, that is, to what extent is it not a sovereign state. It appears that Johnson considers it a training ground, a territory with some type of an administration, something akin to Iraq. And, who in the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina has stood up for protecting the sovereignty of the country? Milorad Dodik. Those who typically cannot get Bosnia and Herzegovina out of their mouths are now keeping silent or nodding and squeezing out through gritted teeth that Bosnia and Herzegovina needs military experts.

And the fact that Johnson is trying to move his war with Russia from Ukraine into Bosnia and Herzegovina — doesn’t seem to concern them. Dodik is held in high esteem because of his principled positions not only in Russia, but in Turkey as well. Erdoğan expressed his respect for Dodik during his latest visit to Sarajevo, while he could not hide his contempt towards the Bosniak representatives in the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina, including Bakir.

Predrag Ćeranić