The EU could take over NATO’s peacekeeping operation in Bosnia before the end of the year, it was reported Wednesday.
Meeting in Brussels, NATO and EU representatives discussed the possibility of the EU taking over the North Atlantic Alliance’s peacekeeping mission in Bosnia. It would be the EU’s third peacekeeping mission after operations in the Democratic Republic of Congo and in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. There has been some debate about exactly when the EU will be ready to safeguard the fragile peace, which has followed years of inter-ethnic warfare in the early 1990s. "It is a bit difficult to give an exact date. Of course a lot of military planning is necessary. You can't do this overnight," said the new NATO chief, Jaap de Hoop Scheffer. The EU’s head of foreign policy, Javier Solana, said he was convinced the Union is ready for the operation. The U.S. has continuously voiced its concern about the EU’s ability to successfully take over from NATO’s SFOR force. The EU currently has a police mission in the country and would be expected to provide around 6,000 personnel for the peacekeeping force. NATO’s current forces in the country stand at double that figure but will be reduced to 7,000 by June 2004. Final decisions on the date for the EU takeover are likely to come at a key NATO meeting in Istanbul in June. (EUobserver.com)