On December 1, 2011, the Embassy of Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) in Washington, D.C. hosted a reception marking the 6th Annual Bosnia and Herzegovina Armed Forces Day. On this day, all citizens of BiH come together to celebrate and thank the members of the BiH military for their service and patriotism. Today, the state of BiH has a single, unified Ministry of Defense and a single unified Armed Forces. Currently, members of the BiH Armed Forces are participating in the NATO-led mission to Afghanistan as well as the U.N. Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. BiH joined the NATO Partnership for Peace program in December 2006 and 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 full NATO membership. Currently, there is only one hurdle blocking BiH in commencing MAP – the registration of immovable military property with the BiH Ministry of Defense. MAP membership will be granted as soon as all immovable defense properties that are identified as necessary for future defense purposes are officially registered as the state property of BiH, for use by the BiH Ministry of Defense.
BAACBH urges BiH to immediately resolve the defense property issue because the resolution of this issue is an essential step in the development of a truly unified state. 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. Given the current political stalemate and economic climate in BiH, NATO membership should be a priority. Membership in NATO would help revitalize the BiH economy by giving potential investors a sense of security and creating jobs, thus improving the livelihoods of all citizens of BiH.