Tobias Flessenkemper discusses the European Union Police Mission’s strategies and priorities in Bosnia-Herzegovina. He argues the command structure in the Bosnia police, which included a minister of the interior in each canton assuming administrative and executive roles that typically fall to police commissioners, overly politicized the Bosnia police in the levels of upper management. He considers politicization a major obstacle to police reform that was manifested differently in Bosnia’s two entities. Whereas in the cantons in the Federation of Bosnia-Herzegovina, encroachment by ministers of the interior on the traditional roles of police commissioners created one type of politicization, in the Republika Srpska, police were hesitant to investigate cases involving politicians or wealthy individuals. Still, he points out that the police were one of the most trusted institutions in Bosnia, which he credits to their visibility and roots in the communities in which they served. Finally, he posits that the effectiveness of the police was subverted somewhat by Bosnia’s weak judicial system and lack of prisons.
At the time of this interview, Tobias Flessenkemper was serving as chief of the European Union Coordination Office as part of the European Union Police Mission in Bosnia-Herzegovina. He previously worked in international policing for the European Union PROXIMA mission in Macedonia. Before working in international policing, Flessenkemper worked in Brussels in the non-governmental sector in the field of education, democracy building and human rights. His background was in political science and management.