A completely new light was shed on the election of a new High Representative in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) with statements said on Thursday by Russian Ambassador to Serbia Alexander Botsan-Kharchenko, who said that Moscow did not approve the attempts of appointment of a new chief of Office of the High Representative (OHR).
Until recently, it was believed that there was an agreement in the international community to appoint the successor of Valentin Inzko and that it was almost a done deal, Klix.ba writes.
It was even mentioned that Germany and Russia had reached an agreement in this regard and that Inzko could soon start packing his bags.
In January, Germany officially announced its candidate, Christian Schmidt, with whom, as noted, comes the intensified engagement of Berlin in BiH.
It was believed that Germany would not come out with the name of the candidate without making agreement with its partners, both in the west and in the east. All key players, meanwhile, confirmed that negotiations were held, but denied that a final agreement had been reached.
However, the information and speculation that appeared later indicate that nothing is over yet. The first question was whether this move was agreed with the United States (US), given that the decision was made before the inauguration of the new US President Joe Biden.
The EU Observer published an analysis that had the impact on the public, stating, among other things, that “there is still a suspicion that Germany nominated Schmidt to anticipate possible moves by the Biden administration, which also intends to play a much more active role in the Balkans and BiH.”
Besides, there has been speculation that the United Kingdom (UK) could also have its candidate for the top position in the OHR, although this information has never been confirmed. All this indicates that there is no final consensus on this issue among the allies from the West.
Words that were said on Thursday by the Russian diplomat further complicate the whole situation and show that the struggle for the appointment of a new High Representative will be long-lasting, fierce, and uncertain. Botsan-Kharchenko said that the shutdown of the OHR should be discussed, and not the appointment of a new High Representative.
When asked what Russia’s opinion is on Schmidt’s candidacy for Inzko’s successor and whether Moscow has been consulted about it, Botsan-Kharchenko said it was an attempt to pursue a policy that the West considers suitable, but that it is not acceptable for Russia.
Given Russia’s opposing position, Botsan-Kharchenko does not see the possibility of reaching the necessary consensus on the issue of the High Representative in the Peace Implementation Council (PIC), recalling that the appointment of the OHR is not possible without a decision and confirmation by the United Nations (UN) Security Council, where Russia has veto power.
An important question is why Moscow decided to discuss this problem through its ambassador to Serbia, an experienced diplomat who also led a mission in our country for a while. The answer could be that Moscow is saying that it sees this region as a whole and is trying to connect BiH with Serbia, that is, resolving the Kosovo stalemate.
With this statement, Moscow has practically shown that it will seek service in return for its signature on the appointment of Schmidt, and we can only guess what that could be.
It is now clear that relations between world powers, primarily the US, Russia, and Germany, will be intertwined through BiH. Namely, all this happens a few days after Biden fiercely threatened Russian President Vladimir Putin and announced a change in policy towards Moscow compared to his predecessor Donald Trump.
“I have made it clear to President Putin, in a way that is very different from my predecessor’s, that the days when the US turned its head away from Russia’s aggressive actions are over,” Biden said.
Although Biden did not mention BiH or the Balkans on that occasion, these cooling relations between the Moscow Kremlin and the White House will bring new winds to our region as well, and make it difficult to reach an agreement on important issues.
Therefore, the appointment of Schmidt, or any other candidate, will be the subject of a “diplomatic trade” of world powers that have many open issues around the world, which they will seek to resolve in the upcoming period. The process is, obviously, at its beginning, and the outcome is quite uncertain.