POLITICS

Bosnia hoped for “Western” but ended up with Russian Vaccines?

The beginning of mass immunization in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), as things stand, will largely take place with the Russian vaccine. It is the primary vaccine in the Republika Srpska (RS), and now it will also be in the Federation of BiH (FBiH) after the government decides to procure half a million doses of Sputnik V.

Such a scenario was not initially expected. Although each vaccine is useful and desirable, the hopes and desires were to provide so-called Western vaccines (Pfizer, AstraZeneca, etc), ie to adhere to the standards and recommendations of the European Union (EU). Why this is not the case in practice is a question that needs to be answered.

The Russian vaccine Sputnik V is the first to be launched on the market and was registered in Russia at the end of August 2020. At that time, we heard messages from our country that the first option when it comes to purchasing vaccines will be what is recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) and generally the vaccine that gets chosen by the EU.

This was confirmed last summer by the Assistant Minister of Health of the FBiH, Goran Cerkez, and later by many others, including the Minister of Foreign Affairs Bisera Turkovic. Such an attitude was completely justified given the majority aspirations of this country towards Western values, towards the EU, NATO, and everything that comes with that type of integration.

Such a commitment was even emphasized in the official documents for the immunization plan: ”It is also needed to point out that the Government of the FBiH and the Federal Ministry of Health are committed that vaccines to be used in the FBiH must be registered with the European Medicines Agency (EMA), which applies high safety standards within the regular or urgent approval of placing on the market, more precisely the use of medicines. All vaccines that will be used in the FBiH must have a marketing authorization issued by the EMA, ” the document stated.

So what happened in the practice?

During the fight for vaccines, leaving aside the indolence of the state level, which relied exclusively on the COVAX mechanism, the procurement of “Western” vaccines on the market is much more complex than, for example, Russian ones.

What have ambassadors from Western countries done to facilitate the flow of information and connections to enable a country like BiH to buy at least a symbolic part of Pfizer or AstraZeneca? Also, the laziness and initial disinterest of BiH officials, which further complicated the situation, should not be forgotten.

Nevertheless, in the moments of the global fight for health, in a game that countries like BiH cannot win without the help of the “big brother”, and that brother was supposed to be the West that this country has been striving for years, a slightly different approach was expected. In that regard, a Russian candidate for the fight of the coronavirus appeared on the scene. It was Russia that is fighting an uncontrolled battle with the West in this area in geopolitical terms when it comes to influencing.

Thus, despite the initial will, hopes, and waiting for Western vaccines, BiH still decided differently, and in the moments when we let all chances slip by, we quickly decided to buy the vaccine that is the most available on the market, and that is Russian. The RS entity decided that a long time ago, and on Tuesday it was also confirmed by the FBiH, by Prime Minister Fadil Novalic.

Now, it can be expected that the story of travel restrictions be brought to the surface for those who have been vaccinated with a vaccine that has not been approved by the EMA, such as the Russian or Chinese one, which will be massively used in BiH, Klix.ba writes.

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