Schmidt’s Arrival to Bosnia will shift German Politics towards Balkans

Although the decision on the possible successor of Valentin Inzko to the position of High Representative in Bosnia and Herzegovina is not even close to final, unofficial circles say that Germany and the United States, at the highest level, have resolved this issue, at least in principle, to make the next High Representative Christian Schmidt, an influential member of the Bavarian CSU, Angela Merkel’s sister party CDU.

The most important thing for BiH is that Schmidt actively and consistently advocates EU enlargement, and he made a personal contribution to ending last year’s blockade of the start of negotiations between Northern Macedonia and Albania by France and several other countries, Nezavisne writes.

Schmidt then said that the EU must fulfill its promise to all Western Balkan countries that, if they carry out the reforms required of them, they can count on becoming an EU member. Schmidt often expressed concern about the treatment of migrants who leave their countries of origin and try to reach Europe via the Mediterranean Sea and the Balkan Peninsula, and he has dealt with this problem intensively in the region as well.

On that occasion, he came to both BiH and Croatia. He asked NATO ships in the Mediterranean to rescue migrants they find in boats or in trouble at sea, without exception.

He also came to BiH as the Minister of Agriculture of Germany as Merkel’s envoy to solve the problem of the blockade of the Stabilization and Association Agreement by Milorad Dodik, the then President of Republika Srpska.

He is one of the advocates of Germany’s dialogue with the countries of North Africa on economic assistance and giving economic prospects to the people of those countries, and he also significantly advocated for a solution to the conflict in Syria. Sarajevo media reports that Schmidt entered behind-the-scenes activities with Moscow in connection with his appointment are not true, because most of our interlocutors, who know him well, pointed to his critical attitude towards Russia due to the annexation of Crimea, support for NATO and awards he received for nurturing Germany’s relations with NATO.

Although he belongs to the Christian Conservative Party close to the Roman Catholic Church, at the time of Croatia’s accession to the EU he criticized the country for corruption and advocated postponing accession if the country did not implement reforms, which some circles in Zagreb and Munich resented.

However, as far as Russia is concerned, Schmidt was among the politicians who advocated easing or at least not imposing new sanctions against that country.

In Germany, they resented him for inviting Alexander Tachov, the Minister of Agriculture of Russia, to Germany in 2017 as the Minister of Agriculture, whom the EU put on the list of sanctions due to the annexation of Crimea.

Interestingly, Germany has apparently completely changed its attitude towards the Office of High Representative, as it has consistently advocated for its either abolition or relocation or weakening for more than a decade, and has therefore often come into verbal conflict with Americans.

It was Germany that advocated that in 2011 the Office of the EU Special Representative be taken away from Inzko and given to the head of the EU Delegation.

In addition, Peter Wittig, the former German ambassador to the UN, publicly said at the Security Council sessions dedicated to the OHR that the office is a hindrance to internal political processes, that it should be deprived of its powers because it belongs to the past.

Wittig said that domestic politicians should take responsibility for their own problems, and not solve them by the OHR. Last year, the European Commission, without a doubt with German consent, wrote in the Opinion for BiH’s membership in the EU and in the Analytical Report that the use of the Bonn powers was “essentially incompatible with the democratic character of the state and sovereignty.”

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