High-Ranking Defence Officials Discuss Terrorist Threat in the Region

By 9 December 2016

US official warns about a growing risk of arrival of terrorists in the region.

US Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defence Michael Carpenter said on Friday at Trakošćan that, due to intensified attacks on the fighters of the Islamic State in Mosul and the attack on Aleppo, there is a growing risk of terrorists coming to the region. Carpenter took part in a meeting of defence ministers of the US-Adriatic Charter (A5), chaired by the Croatian Defence Minister Damir Krstičević, reports Večernji List on December 9, 2016.

After the meeting, reporters asked Carpenter about a potential increase in the number of ISIS terrorists in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Carpenter said that the region was threatened by the arrival of terrorists due to the strong attacks on Mosul. “And because of Russia's aggressive involvement in Syria, which has caused a humanitarian tragedy in Aleppo. All this will cause further migration to Europe and, unfortunately, increase the risk for additional terrorists in Bosnia and Herzegovina, but also in other countries”, said Carpenter.

“It is not feasible for each country to fight against this on its own. It requires a concerted effort. Fortunately, countries which are members of this initiative, including Albania, which is leading the fight against extremism and the sharing of information necessary to combat terrorism, is giving full support to these efforts”, said Carpenter.

The defence ministers of the US-Adriatic Charter agreed on Friday that it was necessary to continue the expansion of NATO to Macedonia and Bosnia and Herzegovina. In addition to Croatia and the United States, the meeting included representatives of Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro and Macedonia, as well Slovenia, Serbia and Kosovo as observers.

“I hope that very soon Macedonia and, most importantly, Bosnia and Herzegovina will also be in NATO and I think that this initiative has a key objective to help all the countries in the region on their European path. Croatia has enormous experience and we want to share it with neighbouring countries with a view to cooperation and peace in the region”, said Croatian Defence Minister Krstičević.

Macedonian Defence Minister Zoran Jolevski said that the process of integration of Southeast European countries into NATO should be continued, since that will contribute to the stability of the region and Europe as a whole. Carpenter agreed, adding that NATO has been in recent years exposed to threats both from the east and the south. “The Alliance must adapt, but at the same time, we must not forget the basic mission of the Alliance – promoting free Europe which lives in peace. This goal can best be achieved by continuing the process of Euro-Atlantic integration”, said Carpenter, stressing that the United States are very pleased that Montenegro will become the 29th member of NATO.

Defence Minister of Bosnia and Herzegovina Marina Pendeš reacted to the recent statement by Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović about thousands of former ISIS fighters returning to Bosnia and Herzegovina. “I have understood the statement in terms that the fight against ISIS came to the stage when pro-active and positive forces will win and that in itself raises the question of where will these fighters end up”, said Pendeš, adding that the President’s statement did not claim that these fighters have Bosnian citizenship, but that there are thousands of fighters which will leave the Middle East and no one knows which route they will take. “In that sense, I understand the dangers and that we need to think about it and identify the facts”, concluded Pendeš.