Analysis by Dženita Šiljak and Kristian L. Nielsen
This policy brief analyses Bosnia and Herzegovina’s (BiH) tortured politics of potential NATO membership. The topic has divided the country politically for most of its lifetime and continues to divide the public largely along ethnic lines. In December 2019, amid much domestic political confusion and acrimony, BiH submitted its first Annual National Program (ANP) to NATO, potentially a major step towards a closer relationship with the alliance. This brief outlines a number of political perspectives on the BiH–NATO relationship and examines the history of the country’s slow approach towards the alliance. It then discusses the state of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s armed forces and the defence budget compared with NATO guidelines, such as the targets set in the 2014 Wales Declaration, showing that BiH is far from the standards a membership will require. It concludes that although steps are being taken towards a closer relationship with NATO, the direction of travel is far from assured, and it will continue to be vulnerable to the country’s turbulent politics.