SARAJEVO, February 28 (FENA) – Bosnia and Herzegovina has been in the Membership Action Plan for NATO since 2018 and the Ministry of Defense of BiH (MoD) is implementing all activities arising from that status, which are regulated by the Reform Program sent to the NATO headquarters in Brussels, the Minister of Defense of Bosnia and Herzegovina Sifet Podžić confirmed in an interview with FENA.
He reminded that there was a problem as to what the document would be called, but as far as the Ministry of Defense is concerned, more than 70 percent of the obligations envisaged by the Reform Program were implemented and the report has been submitted to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to deliver everything to the NATO headquarters in Brussels.
Deputy Minister of Defense Mijo Krešić leads the team for drafting the Reform Program at the Ministry of Defense and the Armed Forces of BiH, and the Reform Program for 2021 has already been prepared, according to which these institutions work, but there are delays when it comes to submitting the report to Brussels.
“These are technical things like what the program will be called and so on, and all those who live in illusion that NATO does not know what we are doing, I will just say that the Reform Program has been translated into English at the NATO headquarters in Sarajevo,” said the Defense Minister.
However, it must not be forgotten that the past year was marked by coronavirus pandemic, which is why some of the activities were postponed and not completed, and some of them NATO asked to be postponed.
Minister Podžić spoke about the number of personnel in the Armed Forces of BiH, emphasizing that this and every other segment are affected by changes that occur in general in BiH society because if young people leave BiH it will greatly affect the number of personnel of the Armed Forces.
Modernization of the BiH Armed Forces is going in the right direction but is much slower than expected and what the state has committed to, says Podžić, but still emphasizes that he is satisfied with the draft budget of BiH institutions for this year when it comes to the Ministry of Defense.
He thanked those who recognized the Ministry of Defense and the Armed Forces worth investing in and managed to rebuild engineering teams with the help of donations.
Speaking about cooperation with the countries of the region (Croatia, Serbia and Montenegro), Minister Podžić underlined that it is at a high level and that bilateral agreements have been signed with them, which specify the areas of cooperation and mostly in the field of education. Croatia is also working to help BiH on its path to NATO.
This year, 40 activities are planned with Serbia, 13 of them in BiH, while 42 activities are planned with Croatia, 14 of which will be organized in BiH, and when it comes to subregional control, there are also signed documents on quotas.
Although there is still no consensus in Bosnia and Herzegovina when it comes to engaging the BiH Armed Forces to protect the eastern border, Minister Podžić reiterated that the migration problem will be further complicated without better control of that part of BiH, which the Border Police is unable to manage alone.
The Minister emphasizes that last year was very characteristic when it comes to the help of the Ministry of Defense and the Armed Forces to civilian structures due to the coronavirus pandemic and the issue of migrants, and a large number of military equipment (1,300 beds and 50 containers as well as tents) was provided.
Due to justified demands for migrants to be relocated from urban areas, a camp was built, and a plateau will be built this week on which containers will be placed for a more stable settlement for migrants.
One of the obligations of the Ministry of Defense and the Armed Forces is to help civilian structures, therefore Defense Minister Sifet Podžić called, in an interview for FENA, for a greater understanding of the structures that are primarily in charge of saving the Armed Forces from possible problems.