In light of the recently concluded NATO Summit in Lisbon, Portugal, BAACBH would like to remind our supporters of the benefits that NATO membership would bring for Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH). In December 2006, BiH became a member of NATO's Partnership for Peace program. BiH quickly made efforts toward institutional and defense reforms, which led to an Individual Partnership Action Plan in 2008. In April 2010, the NATO Alliance invited BiH to join the NATO Membership Action Plan (MAP). This invitation represents a tremendous stride toward realizing NATO membership and BiH demonstrated its continued commitment to this goal by contributing its forces to the NATO International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan earlier this year.
Currently, there is only one hurdle blocking BiH in commencing MAP – the registration of immovable military property with the BiH Ministry of Defense. NATO Secretary General, Anders Fogh Rasmussen outlined this singular impediment early this year:
MAP will be granted as soon as all immovable defence properties that are identified as necessary for future defence purposes are officially registered as the state property of Bosnia and Herzegovina, for use by the Bosnia and Herzegovina Ministry of Defence. This conditionality must not be misunderstood. NATO is not erecting artificial obstacles to your country's membership. On the contrary, resolution of this issue is an essential step in the development of a truly unified state. It is also an opportunity for Bosnia and Herzegovina's political leaders to show their determination to carry out all the necessary reforms that are needed to join the Alliance.
The benefits of NATO membership include more than just security benefits and collective defense but also disaster relief, humanitarian aid, and scientific collaboration through the NATO Science for Peace and Security Program. The membership in the NATO Alliance carries with it economic benefits, as it creates a more stable political environment that attracts and increases foreign direct investment. It also has a positive impact on trade relations with other Alliance members. Furthermore, being a member of this prestigious Alliance bolsters legitimacy among fellow states and it would invariably accelerate BiH's movement toward EU accession and would serve to aid BiH's efforts toward unification and constitutional reform.
NATO maintains headquarters in Sarajevo in order to assist the government of BiH in fulfilling the MAP requirements. BAACBH urges the political leadership in BiH to take swift action in cooperation with NATO so that BiH may join the current 28 member states, including its neighbors Croatia and Albania, in an ever growing and strengthening NATO Alliance.