Michael Carpenter: BiH is precious partner of coalition to counter Islamic State

SARAJEVO – Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defence with responsibility for Russia, Ukraine, the Western Balkans and Eurasia, Michael Carpenter, believes that the BiH is “a valuable partner of coalition to counter terrorism in Syria and Iraq.”

The Islamic State has become a tumor in those countries which metastasized to other countries such as Libya, Yemen … “Carpenter states in an interview with the news agencies in BiH.

He explains that during the meeting with members of the BiH Presidency and BiH Defence Minister Marina Pendes, he thanked the leaders in BiH on excellent bilateral cooperation with the United States.

Carpenter highlights the contribution of leaders in BiH and their determination to support the mission in Afghanistan, the fight against violent and radical extremism and BiH’s participation in the international coalition to counter the Islamic State.

“We also discussed some initiatives, such as public procurement, aviation support, resource management, defence inspection … the USA is supporting BiH to move forward in all these issues as soon as possible,” says Carpenter.

According to him, special attention was paid to combating foreign fighters – terrorists.

Responding to a question asked by SRNA on possible potential risk for the citizens of BiH due to the return of foreign fighters from battlefields in Syria, Carpenter emphasizes that this is an important issue for the border services, interior ministries in BiH and police agencies that should monitor the flow of migrants and other entries into BiH.

“There are intelligence element of cooperation among the states, the registration of all migrants, also including the processing of data on all passengers. The EU has invested a lot of money in it, but the United States is investing a lot of efforts in the fight against radicalization and extremism,” says Carpenter.

He stresses that BiH has done a great job in this respect, but still everyone “should remain vigilant”, since only one mistake is sufficient for a tragedy such as the terrorist attacks in Paris or Brussels.

“It is important that all countries, especially European countries, work together and fight against the foreign fighters and we are very pleased that the BiH adopted the law against foreign fighters.

Cooperation in combating violent extremism is also good with the authorities of Bosnia and Herzegovina. All the governmental institutions in every country should work on prevention of the flow of foreign fighters -terrorists,” says Carpenter.

He confirms that the US supports BiH on its path to Euro-Atlantic integrations and states that “the movement towards NATO is long and sometimes difficult process, because it requires meeting a variety of technical criteria, such as the posting of military assets.”

“The issue of posting of military assets is only partially fulfilled in BiH … We cannot carry out the reforms for you, you must do this yourself, and so all other countries that aspired to NATO membership did it,” says Carpenter.

Carpenter claims there are “challenge and threat of Russian revanchism, which were sensed in the territory of Ukraine and Georgia, although Russia’s interest extends to the Balkans.”

“Russia has already marked NATO integrations as a process it does not support. The US is of the opinion that each country has the sovereign right to determine its own future and commitment in terms of political and security affiliation.

None of the third country should have a right to veto the desire of another country to join either a military alliance such as NATO, or political or economic organisation, such as the EU,” Carpenter states categorically.
According to him, the US will continue to support individual choice of each country on its path towards joining either NATO, or the EU.

Carpenter did not want to compare the progress of individual countries in the region, noting that it is a matter of each country individually, as they differ among themselves.

According to him, a common set of challenges that are ahead of the countries in the region is consisted of the judiciary, respectively the rule of law as an essential issue and the basis for the security of each country, followed by economic development, defence sector reform and the management of the country.

Deputy assistant secretary of defence with responsibility for Russia, Ukraine, the Western Balkans and Eurasia is on a tour that includes visits to Belgrade, Podgorica, Pristina, Skopje, Tirana and Sarajevo, during which he is going to hold talks on bilateral cooperation between the armies of the countries in the region and the US military.

Prior to this, he accompanied US President Barack Obama at the NATO summit in Warsaw. (Srna)