The  European Union Police Mission in BiH is shutting down

Will Sorensen’s Office Take Over EUPM Work?

Prepared by: Vedran Vojinović

In late September, the website announced that in July of 2011 the decision was made to end the European Union Police Mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina (EUPM). As stated in, this decision is the product of a compromise between France and Germany on one side and Great Britain and the United States on the other. France and Germany are the “soft power” diplomacies in international relations with Bosnia and Herzegovina, and they believe that all important decision on the further development of BiH must come from an agreement between the former warring parties in Bosnia. On the other hand, Britain and the United States (also supported by the officials from Oslo, Tokyo and Ankara) are representatives of the “hard power”, who believe in the effectiveness of sanctions and “coercion” of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s officials,  with the aim of reaching an agreement between political parties and the implementation of the Dayton Peace Accord.

Different approach of ‘the big ones’

Britain was trying to negotiate the extension of the mandate of the EUPM until the end of 2012, while Germany and France demanded the closure of the office in late 2011. Compromise was arranged and the EUPM will be closed by the end of June 2012. After closing the EUPM, some of its functions will be taken over by the Delegation of the EU in Sarajevo, although there is no precise information on these functions and activities.
Closing the EUPM is one of the moves undertaken by the European Union with the aim of greater involvement in the events in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The most important factor is certainly the effort of France and Germany – especially its Foreign Ministers Guido Westerwelle and Alain Juppe, who insist that, instead of the international community, the European Union must have a central role in international relations of Bosnia and Herzegovina. One of the next steps is to shut down the Office of the High Representative.

As a part of this strategy, not long ago a Danish diplomat, Peter Sorensen arrived in Sarajevo. By submitting acreditive letters to the Chairman of BiH Presidency Zeljko Komsic on the  9th September, he began his mandate in this country.

He took over leadership of the Delegation of the European Union in Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as the Office of the Special Representative (EUSR), which is activated by a reinforced presence of the European Union in Bosnia-Herzegovina. This enhanced presence of the EU, based on the Lisbon Treaty, is aimed at improving cooperation between the EU and Bosnia and Herzegovina. Sorensen was appointed by a decision of the EU Council on 18 July 2011 as a  Special Representative in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The decision of the High Representative, Catherine Ashton, also put him as head of the Delegation and Ambassador of the Delegation of the European Union in Bosnia-Herzegovina. It is believed that by shutting down the EUPM office, some of their responsibilities will be transfered to the office headed by Sorensen.


Head of EU Police Mission in BiH Stefan Feller recently stated to the Oslobodjenje newspapers that a final decision on the EUPM is still pending, but that the commitment of the European Union to Bosnia and Herzegovina is very clear.

“Regardless of the outcome, support to Bosnia and Herzegovina will be continued, and we just represent the tools to help. That is why I am not talking about the end of the EUPM, but rather about the transition of the ways of providing assistance, “said Feller.



Service to the citizens

In nearly ten years of the EUPM’s presence in Bosnia and Herzegovina, many important steps towards European integration of BiH police structures have been achieved. Since its founding, in 2003, the EUPM has established a good relationship with the citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina through various campaigns such as “122 – your police,” in which they promoted the phone number 122 as the universal emergency number; the “Crime Stoppers” hotline, which enabled citizens to anonymously submit information and tips on pending and unsolved cases. The success of this campaign is proved by the fact that in 2007 the Prosecutor’s Office filed 61 charges against 84 persons on the basis of the information they had received through the “Crime Stoppers” hotline.

With the arrival of Feller for the head of the EUPM in 2008, the media campaigns aimed at promoting police structure in Bosnia and Herzegovina were significantly enhanced. One of the most important was the last campaign called “Stronger, faster, better,” which presented the current state of policing in BiH in the best light. As the EUPM office stated, this campaign “promotes the police that adopted the philosophy of proactive community policing with compassion, clear vision and values when it comes to police work. Therefore, elements of the campaign highlight the willing, strong police force that provides a general sence of security and peace in their communities. “

Although it is difficult to talk about the changes that might arise from EUPM’s closure, one thing is certain – the police structure in Bosnia and Herzegovina would not be the way it is today without the help of the EU Police Mission.