Yesterday, EU defense ministers met to discuss troop reductions in peacekeeping missions (read: Congo and Bosnia, with customary good timing).
"A decision to reduce troop strength is under consideration," EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana told the meeting. "The situation in Bosnia-Herzegovina allows this."
Source: AP, Concern over Kosovo delays EU decision on cutting Bosnia force, International Herald Tribune, November 13, 2006
But then he went on to say that a decision should not be taken before next month, and actual withdrawal not begin before February.
If the situation in Bosnia "allows" troop reductions now, why wait till February? Because the UN has just postponed its imposition of a Kosovo status until after the Serbian elections, to be held at the end of January. Solana's people must have forgotten to brief the current EU presidency on these things, though:
Finnish Foreign Minister Erkki Tuomioja, who chaired separate EU foreign ministers talks with Ahtisaari, said the U.N. envoy's decision to delay would not harm efforts to bring lasting stability to the Balkans.
"We are not afraid it will destabilize the situation," he told reporters.
In other, related news, Bosnia's High Representative Christian Schwarz-Schilling, a man who spent his entire period in office trying to undo as much as possible the legacy of robust international action in Bosnia, is now calling on his overseers in the "Peace Implementation Council" to think twice before confirming the decision, taken last June, to close down his office by June next year. (The PIC meets in February for that purpose; many observers thought it would just rubber stamp the closure without much debate.) The OHR is scared that its entire exit strategy of having an association deal with the EU signed soon is about to collapse since the Serb Republic is reneging on its part of and agreement on police reform. Next step: the EU will define down the "non-negotiable" principles of the reform (which had already been agreed last year) to make a "deal" possible. The first to suggest that option? None other than the High Representative, who -- with a straight face -- told a press conference last month that he had never heard of the idea that police regions should cross the entity boundaries except around Sarajevo.
Watch this space for more weaseling from the OHR and the EU.