President of Bosnia’s Republika Srpska entity denounced an expected deployment of additional British troops to the European Union’s peacekeeping mission in the country, saying their mission will be to spy and feed their reports to the media.
“(They are) intelligence officers disguised as soldiers, who will work on spying, surveillance and making reports, and probably feeding those reports to the media,” Milorad Dodik told the Republika Srpska public broadcaster RTRS.
UK Defense Secretary Gavin Williamson said earlier that the country will deploy 40 additional personnel to the European Union Force (EUFOR) operation in Bosnia, Operation Althea. As part of the mission, additional troops will join a specialist surveillance and intelligence taskforce for six months.
Williamson said: “Whilst the UK’s relationship with the European Union is changing, our unconditional commitment to European security remains resolute. Be it our continued involvement in NATO’s Air Policing or additional UK troops assisting EU-led operations in Bosnia and Herzegovina, our actions send a clear message: we are committed to tackling new challenges and conventional threats alongside our longstanding allies and partners.”
Dodik accused the opposition leader in Republika Srpska who holds the office of the Serb members on Bosnian Presidency of minimizing the importance of the deployment, which he described as part of a broader effort to help the opposition beat his SNSD party in the elections that will be held in October this year.
“(…) how can (the Serb) member on the Presidency say that (the deployment) is fine? It is definitely not fine. Republika Srpska rejects that,” said Dodik.
EUFOR commander in Bosnia said in a statement that the deployment is part of a “regular process”.
“I can confirm that in line with the EU’s Political and Security Committee (PSC) directive based on the assessment of the Operation Commander Op ALTHEA and without increasing overall troop numbers, improved capabilities are to be provided for EUFOR in accordance with the outcome of the strategic review of 2017. At last week’s Force Generation Conference, which is a regular 6 monthly event, the UK, along with other troop contributing nations, vouched troops to fill existing, vacant and newly created appointments within EUFOR. This is a normal and regular process,” said Major General Martin Dorfer.
“The UK has agreed to deploy a reconnaissance sub unit which will act in full compliance under the command of COMEUFOR to support the Commander in his mission of ensuring a safe and secure environment in Bosnia and Herzegovina,” the commander said.