Officials in Bosnia have expressed outrage to remarks by French President Emmanuel Macron in which he described the country as a “ticking time-bomb” and the greatest concern for Europe in the Balkans due to what he said was the “problem of returning jihadists.” Croat presidency member Zeljko Komisic said on Thursday he would summon France’s ambassador to Sarajevo for an explanation of the comments Macron made in an interview with The Economist, AP reports.
Asked about his successful bid in October to block Albania and North Macedonia from starting EU membership talks, Macron said neither of the two nations was the primary source of concern in the Balkans.
Bosnia-Herzegovina is “the time-bomb that’s ticking” right next to the EU member Croatia, which faces the problem of returning jihadists, Macron said, referring to escaped or released Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) fighters who could return to Europe.
A spokesman for Bosnia’s Islamic community, Muhamed Jusic, said that “some 300 Bosnian citizens, most of them women and children, went to the battlefields in Syria and Iraq compared to over 1,900 French.” France is awaiting “the return of 450 jihadists,” he added. “I don’t see how this is a bigger problem in Bosnia than in France.”