Europe

Western diplomats urge Bosnia to join NATO; Serbs say 'no'

  • In this photo taken on Tuesday, June 14, 2016 President of the Republic of Srpska Milorad Dodik listens to a question during an interview to the AP in Banja Luka, Bosnia. Western diplomats have urged Bosnian leaders to consider joining NATO, saying it could bring security and improve people's lives. But a Bosnian Serb leader Milorad Dodik said "Serbs will not let Bosnia join until the alliance resolves its differences with Russia". (AP Photo/Radivoje Pavicic)

    In this photo taken on Tuesday, June 14, 2016 President of the Republic of Srpska Milorad Dodik listens to a question during an interview to the AP in Banja Luka, Bosnia. Western diplomats have urged Bosnian leaders to consider joining NATO, saying it could bring security and improve people's lives. But a Bosnian Serb leader Milorad Dodik said "Serbs will not let Bosnia join until the alliance resolves its differences with Russia". (AP Photo/Radivoje Pavicic)  (The Associated Press)

  • In this photo taken on Tuesday, June 14, 2016 President of the Republic of Srpska Milorad Dodik gesture during an interview to the AP in Banja Luka, Bosnia. Western diplomats have urged Bosnian leaders to consider joining NATO, saying it could bring security and improve people's lives. But a Bosnian Serb leader Milorad Dodik said "Serbs will not let Bosnia join until the alliance resolves its differences with Russia". (AP Photo/Radivoje Pavicic)

    In this photo taken on Tuesday, June 14, 2016 President of the Republic of Srpska Milorad Dodik gesture during an interview to the AP in Banja Luka, Bosnia. Western diplomats have urged Bosnian leaders to consider joining NATO, saying it could bring security and improve people's lives. But a Bosnian Serb leader Milorad Dodik said "Serbs will not let Bosnia join until the alliance resolves its differences with Russia". (AP Photo/Radivoje Pavicic)  (The Associated Press)

Western diplomats have urged Bosnian leaders to consider joining NATO, saying it could bring security and improve people's lives. But a Bosnian Serb leader said Serbs will not let Bosnia join until the alliance resolves its differences with Russia.

The ambassadors of the U.S., Britain and NATO issued a joint statement on Thursday saying that, "If you want positive change ... moving toward NATO is a great way to do it."

Ordinary Bosnians are torn over the issue, with Croats and Bosniaks generally in favor, but Serbs, who are traditionally pro-Russian, strongly opposed to joining the Western military alliance.

The ambassadors said NATO is important not just for the security it offers but also because of "rule-of-law reforms that will help to improve the lives of ordinary citizens."