L’opération Althea en Bosnie-Herzégovine et la gestion européenne du « post-conflit »
On December 2, 2004, the European Union took over from NATO the main peacekeeping forces that had been deployed in Bosnia-and-Herzegovina since the signature of the Dayton Accords. The launch of EU military operation Althea was presented by its supporters as a major test for the ESDP, especially as it pertained to a wider Europeanization of post-conflict management in Bosnia. Against this background, Althea provides a fruitful locus to assess one of the EU’s most frequent claims - that it possesses a specific know-how when it comes to combining the military and the civilian aspects of post-conflict management. In this study, Althea is primarily approached through the way it is viewed by both its participants and by Bosnians. Several issues are addressed: First, how do historical legacies of the international presence in Bosnia weigh upon the very definition of mission Althea, its implementation and its local receptions? Second, coordination of the various European actors present on the field has emerged as one of the major challenges the EU needs to face. Third, the study draws attention to the possible discrepancy between various understandings (among Althea personnel and Bosnian people) of what a European military mission entails. Last but not least, the study highlights complex rationalities at work when phasing out an operation like Althea. EU exit strategies seem to derive rather from bureaucratic logic than objective assessment of stability in Bosnia.