|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
5306th Meeting (AM)
BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA READY TO ENTER ‘POST-DAYTON’ ERA JUST 10 YEARS
AFTER BRUTAL WAR, HIGH REPRESENTATIVE TELLS SECURITY COUNCIL
In Final Briefing, Paddy Ashdown Says European Union Could
Approve Negotiations for Association Agreement Next Week in Brussels
Bosnia and Herzegovina was ready to enter a “post-Dayton” era just 10 years after the a brutal war that had left its people traumatized and an infrastructure collapsed, and it had acquired the framework, although not the substance, of a modern European State, Paddy Ashdown, High Representative for the Implementation of the Peace Agreement on Bosnia and Herzegovina, said this morning in his last briefing to the Council in that role.
Standing at the gates of Europe, Bosnia and Herzegovina had done what many had said was impossible even a year ago, he said, outlining recent developments in the country’s path to European integration. Indeed, measured against other peace stabilization missions, progress had been real -- even “miraculous” -- and utterly dependent on the fortitude of the peoples of that country, the true heroes of the transformation. Thanks to a combination of enlightened local leadership and international pressure, the major obstacles to Euro-Atlantic integration had now been overcome. Last week, European Union ministers had welcomed the European Commission’s recommendation to start drawing up a negotiating mandate for the country’s Stabilization and Association Agreement. If all went as planned, the negotiations would be approved next week in Brussels, precisely 10 years after the signing of the Dayton Agreement -- a fitting anniversary present.
The European Union, backed by the international community and especially the United States, had made it very clear that the remaining conditions for Bosnia and Herzegovina to begin stabilization talks were non-negotiable, he added. While the aspiration of European Union membership had been a powerful draw, it had taken consistent international pressure over the last 10 years to bring the country to the gates of the European Union and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). Nowhere was that clearer than in the area of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia. While the transfer of 12 indictees this year to the International Tribunal was a huge step forward, another anniversary of the massacre at Srebrenica had passed without the transfer of the most wanted on that list, namely, Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic. “We need to signal, at this tenth anniversary of Dayton, our utter determination to ensure that this chapter of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s history is closed”, he said.
The opening of the Stabilization and Association Agreement negotiations this year would mark a decisive break with the past, he said. While the last year had demonstrated that the political will existed to meet the requirements of Euro-Atlantic integration, in many cases, the hard part of the reform process --- implementation -- was only now beginning. Moving decisively from the phase of peace implementation to the marathon task of achieving European standards, it was up to the people of Bosnia and Herzegovina to strengthen the State framework. In its present form, the Dayton construct had reached the end of its utility as a framework for the next phase of the reform process. Bosnia and Herzegovina needed to find a new template to move forward. As a member of the European Union, he was confident that the country he loved would be one of its most precious jewels.
The representative of the United Kingdom, speaking on behalf of the European Union, said Bosnia and Herzegovina stood on the threshold of another new chapter in history, with the opportunity to establish a formal relationship between the Union and Bosnia and Herzegovina through the negotiation of the Stabilization and Association Agreement. The opening of these negotiations was the first step on the long path to eventual Union membership. One of the fundamental conditions of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s Union membership was its unconditional cooperation with the International Tribunal, including the apprehension and transfer of all indictees, specifically Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic. Bosnia and Herzegovina still had much to do in implementing reforms and meeting Union integration benchmarks, and the Union’s commitment to those efforts was clear.
The current moment was the most important in the post-Dayton era, the representative of Bosnia and Herzegovina said. Five years ago, not many would have predicted that Bosnia and Herzegovina would be ready to start negotiations with the European Union on a Stabilization and Association Agreement. Bosnia and Herzegovina had succeeded in fulfilling all the conditions required by the European Commission’s feasibility study and expected to start negotiations with the European Union on a Stabilization and Association Agreement early next month. Bosnia and Herzegovina’s institutions would have to start taking full responsibility for the country’s future, while the role of the Office of the High Representative would gradually change.
Highlighting recent achievements, he said the country’s defence reform had been virtually completed. Agreement had also been reached for one of the most sensitive issues, namely, police reform. Cooperation with the International Tribunal by the authorities of the Republika Srpska had become concrete, although more needed to be done. He had great hopes that the last seven of the indictees would be brought to justice by the end of the year, enabling the Tribunal’s exit strategy to become effective. Economic progress was also evident, with the country enjoying one of the highest gross domestic product (GDP) growth rates in the region. His country was ready to support the development of good relations with its neighbours on the grounds of sovereignty, mutual respect and non-interference.
Also speaking today were the representatives of the United Republic of Tanzania, China, Japan, Philippines, Romania, United States, Algeria, Denmark, France, Benin, Argentina, Greece, Brazil, Russian Federation and Italy.
The meeting began at 10:37 a.m. and adjourned at 12:31 p.m.
As the Security Council met this morning, it had before it the twenty-eighth report of the High Representative for the Implementation of the Peace Agreement on Bosnia and Herzegovina (document S/2005/706). According to the report, in the first half of 2005, Bosnia and Herzegovina moved closer to meeting the requirements that would allow the opening of negotiations with the European Union on a stabilization and association agreement and to become a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Partnership for Peace. In June, the Peace Implementation Council recognized the attainment of formal relationships with the European Union and NATO as one of the key indicators of progress that could permit the international community to phase out its executive role in civilian peace implementation and basic State-building in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Despite considerable progress across the reform agenda, Bosnia and Herzegovina did not reach either target during the reporting period.
The report also notes that, despite fulfilment of the NATO military/ technical criteria by the end of 2004, much-improved cooperation with the International Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia during the first half of 2005 and the removal of certain systemic weaknesses in the country’s law enforcement and security structures, the outstanding condition for Partnership for Peace membership remains full cooperation with the Tribunal. Several major indictees, including Ratko Mladic and Radovan Karadzic, remain at large. The adoption of legislation on public broadcasting and agreement on police restructuring in line with European Commission principle remained conditions required by the European Commission Feasibility Study.
As a consequence of these blockages, the report states, Bosnia and Herzegovina risked falling behind all of its neighbours on the road to Euro-Atlantic integration. The Office of the High Representative has focused on supporting the country’s fulfilment of these conditions by the European Commission and NATO and on its own mission implementation plan, which aims to enhance the operational capacity and effectiveness of domestic institutions. The Office of the High Representative has sought to support the efforts of Bosnia and Herzegovina institutions to take on ever greater responsibility for their own affairs. The High Representative’s Office, to encourage increasing local ownership and responsibility, minimized the number of instances where it used the Bonn Powers to impose legislation.
The European Union military mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina (EUFOR) successfully built up a credible reputation from the beginning of its deployment, becoming a key partner in support of the European Union’s political objectives and the mission implementation plan, the report notes. A pre-deployment public information campaign, the early launch of robust operations, active field patrolling, local observation team activities, weapons collection and other operations to ensure compliance with the General Framework Agreement for Peace and to prevent anti-Dayton activities have ensured a seamless transition from the Stabilization Force (SFOR) to EUFOR.
The European Union Police Mission (EUPM) began preparing for the end of its current mandate and planning for a follow-on mission during the period, the report states. The EUPM continued to support local police in developing management hierarchies designed to improve command and control, while also assisting the State-level Ministry of Security, the State Investigation and Protection Agency and the State Border Service to boost their management and operational effectiveness. The Police Restructuring Commission completed its deliberations in December 2004, with the Commission’s Chairman presenting his report to Prime Minister Adnan Terzic and the High Representative in January 2005. The report set out a model for police reform based on the three principles endorsed by the European Commission, namely, budgetary and legislative authority for policing lodged at State level; policing operations free of all political influence; and policing districts based on operational and technical criteria.
After intensive lobbying and top-level political negotiations, in late May, representatives of the Republika Srpska refused to agree to the proposed model police reform, the report continues. Specifically, they rejected the fundamental principles on which the reform was based, including the abolition of the Republika Srpska Police. By rejecting them, the Republika Srpska government, led by the Serb Democratic Party (SDS), blocked the negotiations on a stabilization and association agreement for Bosnia and Herzegovina and chose isolation over integration.
Defence reform, however, proceeded apace, the report adds. Against the odds, a general consensus was built that encompassed the elimination of entity competencies, the transfer of all defence responsibilities and personnel to the State, abolition of conscription and the establishment of a restructured and small reserve force to back up the downsized professional army.
A monitoring group for the International Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia was established at the beginning of 2005 to work on the 12 tasks set for the Bosnia and Herzegovina authorities by the Tribunal, the report says. Partly as a result of this, and the tough sanctions imposed by the High Representative in 2004, the attitude of the Republika Srpska towards cooperation with the Tribunal substantially improved. For the first time since the war, the Republika Srpska government arranged the surrender and transfer of several indictees to The Hague, as well as working with Belgrade to facilitate other “voluntary” surrenders. Despite this progress, in the run-up to the Srebrenica anniversary, the continuing freedom of Karadzic and Mladic and other major Tribunal indictees is glaring.
As part of his effort to normalize Bosnia and Herzegovina and to hand over responsibility to domestic institutions, the High Representative decided in the spring to initiate a process of reviewing past decisions banning specified persons from participating in all political and public life, lifting the restrictions on five persons in May and June, the report notes. On the economic front, the Office of the High Representative continued to prioritize reforms designed to improve the business environment and to regulate the fiscal system in order to create a conducive environment for more jobs. These reforms also aimed to put the country on a more secure macroeconomic footing and to pave the way for eventual European Union accession. Increasing economic stability was achieved during the reporting period, with the Bosnia and Herzegovina authorities assuming greater ownership.
The unification of Mostar continued to progress in the first half of 2005, the report states. Cooperation between the moderate majorities of the main political parties started to show its effects as once ethnically divided institutions were unified, civil service appointments in line with the new civil service law were made, and a unified city budget was passed in June. Efforts to ensure that Brcko District’s multi-ethnic and democratic institutions are functioning effectively and permanently, and that the entities and State institutions respect the District’s status as a self-governing administrative unit in consonance with the Final Arbitral Award, continued during the period. The Peace Implementation Council Steering Board welcomed in June plans to conclude an agreement between the Council of Ministers and the District government that would afford the District appropriate representative at the State level.
Statement by High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina
PADDY ASHDOWN, High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina, noted that when he last briefed the Council seven months ago, he had said that the following period would be decisive. The question had been, would the political leadership seize the opportunity to show that the country had become a viable State, irreversibly on course to European and Euro-Atlantic integration? As predicted, it had been a decisive period and the country had moved forward. There was a huge difference between where Bosnia and Herzegovina stood in June and where it stood just a week away from the tenth anniversary of the signing of the Dayton Peace Accords. Bosnia and Herzegovina had done what many had said was impossible even a year ago, let alone at the start of his mandate in May 2002 or at the date of the Peace Agreement.
European Union ministers had announced on 8 November that they welcomed the European Commission’s recommendation to start drawing up a negotiating mandate for the country’s Stabilization and Association Agreement. If all went as planned, the negotiations would be approved on the 21 November General Affairs and External Relations Council in Brussels, precisely 10 years after the Dayton Agreement was signed, “a fitting anniversary present”. When that happened, Bosnia and Herzegovina would join the rest of the region on the journey towards European Union accession. “This is truly a remarkable achievement for a country as war-torn as Bosnia and Herzegovina was just 10 years ago”, he added.
Noting that it was his last report to the Council as High Representative, he said he wished not only to update the Council, but also to share some of his impressions. Ten years after Bosnia and Herzegovina’s brutal war, the country had acquired the framework -- not the substance yet -- of a modern European State. The scale of that achievement could be judged if one looked back to the country in 1995, with a people traumatized by mass murder and ethnic cleansing and contending with material deprivation wrought by a collapsed infrastructure and a moribund economy. Measured against other peace stabilization missions, progress had been real, substantial and, in some cases, miraculous. Moreover, it had been utterly dependent on the fortitude of the peoples of Bosnia and Herzegovina -- the true heroes of the transformation.
At the start of 2005, Bosnia and Herzegovina had stood at a crossroads, he said. For much of the year, it had been unclear which direction it would take. In June, progress appeared to have stalled. Obstructionism, particularly, but not exclusively, from the Republika Srpska government, had been rife. Most key State-level reforms had appeared blocked. The Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia had highlighted the need to tackle systemic weaknesses in Bosnia and Herzegovina’s security institutions. Although defence reform had proceeded, the Republika Srpska had refused to push forward with police restructuring. Most importantly, failure to agree to police reform and the Croat Nationalists’ HDZ’s blockage of the passage of public broadcasting legislation had meant that the remaining requirements for Bosnia and Herzegovina to begin Stabilization Agreement negotiations with the European Union remained unfulfilled. When Serbia and Montenegro had met the conditions of the Union’s Feasibility Study on 5 October, Bosnia and Herzegovina had become the only country in the Balkans with no contractual relationship with the European Union.
He was happy to report, however, that the blockage had been moved. Thanks to a combination of some enlightened local leadership, and consistent with the international community’s pressure, the major obstacles to Euro-Atlantic integration had now been overcome. Defence reform had succeeded beyond all expectations. A consensus had been built, enabling the transfer of all defence responsibilities and personnel to the State, the abolition of conscription and the establishment of a small reserve force to back up the downsized professional army. Now, the three former armies were on their way to being melded into a single, NATO-compatible military force of 12,000 under one defence minister. But, whereas the armed forces were essentially once removed from popular perceptions of day-to-day security, the police, on the other hand, were viewed by many as protectors of the local community. So, police reform would always be much more difficult.
The European Union, backed by the international community and especially the United States, had made it very clear that the remaining conditions for Bosnia and Herzegovina to begin stabilization talks were non-negotiable. The breakthrough on police reform in October occurred because Bosnia and Herzegovina’s leaders had grasped the meaning of that and were not prepared to risk isolation and exclusion from the European process. The Entity and State parliaments had, as a result, endorsed a political agreement on police restructuring in line with the European Commission’s principles. Once implemented, it would provide the basis for a modern State-level police force, free from political interference and working without the constraints of ethnic boundaries.
While the aspiration of European Union membership had been a powerful draw, it had taken consistent international pressure over the last 10 years to bring the country to the gates of the European Union and NATO, he said. Nowhere was that clearer than in the area of the International Tribunal. Today, only five of 15 indicted for war crimes committed in Bosnia and Herzegovina were still at large. The Republika Srpska authorities had transferred, or assisted Belgrade in the transfer of, 12 indictees this year. That was a huge step forward. However, another anniversary of the massacre at Srebrenica had now passed without the transfer of the most wanted on that list, namely, Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic.
“We need to signal, at this tenth anniversary of Dayton, our utter determination to ensure that this chapter of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s history is closed”, he said. Without the transfer of Karadzic and Mladic, justice would not have been done and the Balkans would not be able to enter fully the new European phase of its history. A small step towards that had been taken in Mostar. Last year, he had reported on the reopening of the Mostar Bridge, a powerful symbol of reconciliation. Most of Mortar’s municipal institutions had been unified or were in the process of being unified. Nevertheless, a small but worrying number of the most sensitive issues still needed to be resolved. Despite yet-to-be completed tasks, the Mostar process had proved that there was far more that united the people of Bosnia and Herzegovina than divided them.
The opening of the Stabilization and Association Agreement negotiations this year would mark a decisive break with the past, he said. The key was whether the opportunities created by the launch of the process would be seized. Sustainability and functionality were now the watchwords. The last 12 months had demonstrated that the political will existed to meet the requirements of Euro-Atlantic integration. But in many cases, the really hard part of the reform process -- implementation -- was only now beginning. Bosnia and Herzegovina was moving decisively from the phase of peace implementation to the marathon task of establishing good governance and the achievement of European standards on the way to European membership. It was up to the citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina to make institution work and expand and strengthen the State framework.
He said there was growing consensus that the Dayton construct in its present form, while remaining essential as a foundation for peace, had nevertheless reached the end of its utility as a framework for the next phase of the reform process. Bosnia and Herzegovina now needed to find a new template with the European Stability and Association Process, to move forward. Dayton had achieved what it was designed to achieve. It had ended the war and established a framework in which post-war recovery could begin. That it now needed adapting reflected the extent of Bosnia Herzegovina’s progress towards a normal and prosperous European future. It was not just a question of Euro-Atlantic integration. The people of Bosnia and Herzegovina were entitled to demand an accountable and efficient government. Constitutional change was now possible and necessary.
The signing of the Stabilization and Association Agreement should herald the end of heavyweight international intervention in Bosnia and Herzegovina, he said. It was time for the international community to take a step back. The Peace Implementation Council had made it clear that once the negotiations were under way it was ready to begin phasing out the use of the Bonn Powers and replacing the Office of the High Representative with a Union-led structure. That transition could begin before the end of the year, even by the time Bosnia and Herzegovina goes to the polls in October 2006. The Bonn Powers had worked in levering the country forward to the current point, but they had also created a dangerous dependency both in the Bosnia and Herzegovina political establishment and in the international community. That did not mean, however, that the international community or the Peace Implementation Council should disengage. Bosnia and Herzegovina still needed EUFOR, which had, since its deployment at the beginning of 2005, established itself as an efficient and credible force.
There also remained outstanding challenges requiring continued engagement, including in the judicial and penal system, he said. The rehabilitation of the police forces and the judiciary were now beginning to pay dividends. And with increasing numbers of criminals being brought to justice, Bosnia was faced with the problem that there was simply no prison in which to incarcerate those convicted. There was also the outstanding issue of police decertification. The certification of police officers by the IPTF was an ambitious and largely successful attempt to rehabilitate the ranks of police officers in the country.
Concluding, he noted that, 13 years ago, he had stood on the tarmac of the then United Nations-held Sarajevo airfield, watching a murderous artillery duel take place over his head, smashing through the beauty of Sarajevo and the wonderful valley in which it sat. His relationship with Bosnia had started on that hot August day. Bosnia and Herzegovina would continue to demand a unique approach from the international community, an approach that combined the prospect of European Union accessions with an energetic and comprehensive engagement. The international community needed to offer solutions for the very complex challenges the country continued to pose. In the end, however, how those challenges were resolved was not up to the international community, but to the people of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
BEGUM TAJ (United Republic of Tanzania) welcomed the positive developments in Bosnia and Herzegovina, particularly the reforms designed to increase economic stability there, including efforts to improve the business environment and to regulate the financial system. Her delegation had also been impressed by the achievements of the European Union-led peacekeeping force (EUFOR) thus far in successfully implementing its mandate following the multinational stabilization force (SFOR) handover.
The United Republic of Tanzania was also encouraged by the steps taken by the Republika Srpska, which had, for the first time, surrendered several indictees to the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia. At the same time, she was troubled that Ratko Mladic and Radovan Karadzic, two of the Tribunal’s most wanted fugitives, had yet to be handed over and indeed still “enjoyed the protection by the authorities in Republika Srpska”. She, therefore, urged the authorities there, as well as in neighbouring countries and throughout the region, to cooperate fully with the Tribunal so that all the remaining indictees did not escape justice.
She said her delegation shared the Secretary-General’s concern about the lagging police reforms. The Serbian side had reportedly rejected the fundamental principles endorsed by the European Union, including the abolition of Republika Spike’s police force. Rejecting the proposals meant that the Serbian side was not only alienating itself from the overall process, but also obstructing progress on the police reforms. The resultant stalemate would force the international community to unnecessarily delay plans to phase out its presence and allow the building of a single State, as Bosnia and Herzegovina prepared to join the European Union. Emphasizing the “inconceivable” notion of a State with more than one police force, she called on Republika Srpska to avoid divisive policies and join with other Bosnians and Croats in building a future for the country.
LI JUNHUA ( China) said he had been pleased to note that, in the second half of the year, Bosnia and Herzegovina had achieved considerable results, in such areas as institution-building, the judiciary system, police reform, and national reconciliation. The Office of the High Representative had played a positive role in that regard, which China highly appreciated. The EUFOR had sufficiently taken over the reigns of responsibility from SFOR and had assumed its responsibilities in supporting the political process in the country. In the last 10 years since the signing of the Dayton Peace Agreements, the country had made encouraging progress in various national reconstruction efforts. The parties involved should value their hard-won achievements. Hopefully, they would further strengthen mutual trust and unity among them, gradually ensuring that people of different ethnic minorities lived in peace and shared development.
EMYR JONES PARRY (United Kingdom), speaking on behalf of the European Union, said that Bosnia and Herzegovina stood on the threshold of another new chapter in history, with the opportunity to establish a formal, contractual relationship between the European Union and Bosnia Herzegovina through the negotiation of the Stabilization and Association Agreement. The opening of those negotiations was the first step on the long path to eventual Union membership. It was also proof that the Union was dedicated to the Thessalonica agenda, the commitment that all western Balkan nations had the potential to become members of the Union, provided they met the necessary conditions.
One of the fundamental conditions of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s Union membership was its unconditional cooperation with the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, including the apprehension and transfer of all indictees, specifically Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic. Bosnia and Herzegovina’s tremendous advancement in the past 10 years was a testament to the enormous political, financial and military investment by the international community and to the efforts of the Bosnians themselves. It was also a testament to the efforts of Lord Ashdown. He leaves Bosnia and Herzegovina on the threshold of a new chapter and better able to face the challenges ahead.
The Union’s greatest objective in the process was its ability to support Bosnia and Herzegovina’s Euro-Atlantic integration. Working in close cooperation with NATO, the Union-led peacekeeping force, EUFOR, had successfully assumed the main peace stabilization role under the Dayton Peace Agreement. In addition, the EUPM provided advice and support to Bosnia and Herzegovina to bring its police structures up to European standards. The Union continued to provide significant financial support to Bosnia and Herzegovina under the Community Assistance for Reconstruction, Development and Stabilization regional assistance programme.
Bosnia and Herzegovina still had much to do in implementing reforms and meeting Union integration benchmarks, he concluded. Many of the challenges were a legacy of years of conflict. The Union’s commitment to supporting those efforts was clear.
KENZO OSHIMA ( Japan) welcomed the European Union’s decision to initiate negotiations on Stabilization and Association Agreement last week, as that marked the tenth anniversary of the signing of the Dayton Accord. Bosnia and Herzegovina had now entered a new stage, from the post-conflict rehabilitation towards integration into the European Union. The remarkable development of the past 10 years could not have been achieved without the tireless efforts of the people and leaders of the country, as well as the High Representative and the entire international community. Those achievements notwithstanding, there was still much to be done to resolve the remaining problems and enable the country to stand on its own feet.
Towards that end, he said he expected the leaders of Bosnia and Herzegovina to take the initiative of ensuring further progress in the most urgent tasks. Those included police restructuring, downsizing the total government structures, and reforming the economy. Japan had actively contributed to the peace implementation process as a member of the Steering Board of the Peace Implementation Council. Its assistance presently focused on: enhancing the market economy; improving the environment; and consolidating peace. As part of its efforts to follow up the ministerial conference on peace consolidation, among others, Japan would adhere to its commitment to helping achieve stability and prosperity in the region. Stabilizing the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina was essential for the stability of all of South-East Europe.
BAYANI MERCADO ( Philippines) said that the presence of EUFOR was a testament to deepening European Union commitment to the maintenance of a safe and secure environment in Bosnia and Herzegovina. It was necessary to ensure the continuing contribution of its robust force. He also commended Bosnia and Herzegovina for its notable efforts to achieve the objectives of the international community, such as its steps to pursue Euro-Atlantic integration and establish contractual relationships with both the European Union and NATO. Cooperation with the International Criminal Tribunal had also substantially improved since the establishment of the Tribunal’s Monitoring Group early this year, as evidenced by the surrender and transfer of several indictees to The Hague this year.
It was regrettable that, despite those positive accomplishments, Bosnia and Herzegovina continued to fail to meet the goal of attaining formal relationships with the Union and NATO, he continued. That was mainly due to its failure to meet the conditions for the European Commission’s November 2003 feasibility study, in particular concerning police restructuring and public broadcasting. Republika Spike’s refusal to agree on the proposed model police reform and its rejection of the fundamental principles endorsed by the European Commission had caused a stalemate in the negotiations. In addition, Republika Spike’s cooperation with the Tribunal had been deemed unsatisfactory by NATO, due to continued failure to apprehend Europe’s two most wanted war crime fugitives.
If Bosnia and Herzegovina wished to achieve its objective of being part of the European Union, it had to fulfil the European Commission’s conditions on police restructuring and public broadcasting reform, he said. It also had to remove the main stumbling block to its membership in NATO’s Partnership for Peace. Its leaders had to accept the reality that the future lay with enhanced cooperation with the European Union. A decade after the Dayton Peace Accord, the international community looked forward to the Bosnia and Herzegovina Government achieving its objective of forming a better, prosperous and democratic future in the family of nations. The sooner Bosnia and Herzegovina conformed to European democratic and legal systems, the earlier its citizens would enjoy the benefits of Euro-Atlantic integration.
MIHNEA IOAN MOTOC ( Romania) said EUFOR had played a key role in stabilizing the peace. Bosnia and Herzegovina was an important country for Romania. Romania was glad to learn of the good news of Sarajevo, namely, the opening of negotiations on the process of a Stabilization and Association Agreement with the European Union. That progress was a result of the outstanding work done by the High Representative and the resolve of the people and Government of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the support of the European Union, NATO and other international organizations. Since Romania had taken its place in the Council, his delegation had stressed the need for change in European and Euro-Atlantic rapprochement for the western Balkans. Progress achieved to date, as seen in Bosnia and Herzegovina, confirmed that point of view.
He said that Bosnia and Herzegovina was indeed making palatable progress in areas for State cohesion, testifying that the country was on the right path. Much remained to be done, however, and he encouraged authorities to speed up the necessary reforms. The only way for integration into the European Union was to establish a modern State, based on the rule of law and internal stability and good neighbourly relations. Full cooperation with the International Tribunal was a basic requirement for the country’s progress towards NATO and European Union membership. He also welcomed the strength of regional cooperation by Bosnia and Herzegovina, particularly in the South-East European process. Ten years on from the Dayton agreements, he hoped Bosnia and Herzegovina could, once and for all, put the years of conflict behind it and, while recalling the tragic lessons of Srebrenica, commit to a common European destiny.
WILLIAM BRENCICK ( United States) said that in the 10 years since the war, the people of Bosnia and Herzegovina had accomplished a great deal. Their country was today a land at peace. More than 1 million refugees had returned to their homes. Significant progress had been made in strengthening or creating State institutions, including the establishment of a State Border Service, a State Investigative and Protection Agency, and a national intelligence service. Agreement had also been reached on a process to reform national police structures. A fully integrated, NATO-compatible, national armed forces had also been achieved. As a result of those and other reforms, Bosnia and Herzegovina had received approval from the European Union to begin negotiating a Stabilization and Association Agreement. It had also met important criteria for participation in NATO’s Partnership for Peace.
He emphasized that most of those reforms had taken place during the tenure of Mr. Ashdown and had been accomplished, in large measure, due to his tireless support for the reform process. Another area of progress was constitutional reform. That was the next great challenge for the people of Bosnia, whose efforts should be supported to eliminate duplicative governmental structures, break down ethnic and political divisions, and build a sustainable State. Bosnia and Herzegovina had taken some notable steps with respect to cooperation with the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, but “critical deficiencies” remained. As called for in numerous Security Council resolutions, all persons indicted by the Tribunal, particularly Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic, must be arrested and surrendered to the Court in The Hague. Ten years was long time to resolve that issue and put the past to rest. The tenth anniversary of the tragedy of Srebrenica had already passed, and the tenth anniversary of Dayton was next week, so further delay was “absolutely unacceptable”, he stressed.
LARBI EL HADJ ALI ( Algeria) noted that, in light of the information provided, the stabilization and normalization process in Bosnia and Herzegovina had achieved remarkable results. He was pleased to note the efforts by the Bosnian authorities in carrying out administrative and institutional reforms in promoting a State on the basis of rule of law and by creating an economic space. The prospects of opening negotiations on association with the European Union had promoted the establishment of unique economic space and significant progress in terms of microeconomic stability. However, economic reforms had not met the expectations of the local population and must, therefore, be focused on by the international community, in general, and the European Union, in particular.
The country’s legal framework had been strengthened, he said. Progress in the judicial reform must not conceal, however, shortcomings as regards the International Tribunal and the arrest of those accused of war crimes. Full and complete cooperation with the Tribunal, as well as bringing all the perpetrators of war crimes in, would help to promote agreement among all citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and integrate the country into its regional environment. He was pleased to note the significant progress in unifying the city of Mostar, which symbolized the value of tolerance.
ELLEN MARGRETHE LØJ ( Denmark) said she appreciated the impressive and detailed accounts of the notable advances achieved on the ground in Bosnia and Herzegovina. In 10 years, the country had made remarkable progress, although several challenges remained. She was committed to ensuring that the days of war, destruction and massacres were “gone for good” in Bosnia and Herzegovina and in the western Balkans as a whole. Particularly encouraging had been the recent adoption of a police restructuring bill, and earlier this year, the defence sector reform. She expected that the European Union would formally agree to open negotiations on a Stabilization and Association Agreement -- the first step towards eventual European Union membership. Significant partnership had also been made with respect to NATO’s Partnership for Peace Programme.
Nevertheless, she said, moving closer to the European Union and NATO would require further reform by their partners in Sarajevo. Full implementation of the bill to restructure the police force would be important. Further adoption of legislation on public broadcasting and full cooperation with the International Tribunal were also key factors in determining relations with the Union and NATO. Bosnia and Herzegovina, and all countries in the western Balkans, should take decisive action to bring the remaining indictees to justice. Only then would the remaining legacy of war be buried; that was a precondition for lasting reconciliation in the region. She commended the High Representative for all his efforts. He had been a catalyst for visible progress, while maintaining the delicate balance of using the Bonn Powers and ensuring the gradual transfer of ownership to the leaders of Bosnia and Herzegovina. She supported downsizing that Office, but its job was not yet finished. Thus, contemplation of adjustments to the Bonn Powers should be done with due attention to the risks of new crises in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
JEAN-MARC DE LA SABLIÈRE ( France) noted that 10 years on from the signing of the Dayton Agreements, relations among the three constituencies in Bosnia and Herzegovina had greatly improved. The number of refugees that had returned and improvements with neighbouring countries, among other things, were signs that Bosnia and Herzegovina was putting conflict behind it and moving towards a stable, democratic State that was close to meeting the values of Europe. The progress made in the last two years in building a unified State had been remarkable. Important reforms had been made, making it possible to create a unified economic space and centralized institutions in many governmental areas, including in the area of justice and taxation, helping to launch the process of European integration for Bosnia and Herzegovina. The vote on 5 October in Republika Srpska had made it possible to meet the last requirement for the opening of negotiations with the European Union. That was a major step forward towards building of a stable and democratic Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Such progress, however, should not encourage members to lessen their efforts, he said. Bosnia and Herzegovina had not reached the end of the Dayton road. Its efforts to cooperate with its neighbours must be strengthened. The surrender of all accused persons to The Hague was essential for the promotion of the reconciliation process. France regretted the increasing segregation of students according to ethnic origin. Given the progress made, he could envisage the gradual dismantling of international trusteeship with the concomitant transfer to the Bosnian Government. For its part, France would, in that process, continue to stand side by side with Bosnia and Herzegovina.
BODÉHOUSSÈ SIMON IDOHOU (Benin) said that the national integration processes in Bosnia and Herzegovina had maintained their momentum, although the country had been unable to achieve either of the two major objectives: the conclusion of a Stabilization and Association Agreement with the European Union; and integration into NATO’s Peace Partnership. He commended the authorities for their tremendous achievements towards reforming the defence sector and strengthening economic stability, the latter with increased participation in business and the unification and rein habitation of Mostar in the Brcko District. Those gains should be consolidated.
He called for a firm stand against that inertia, which continued to impede expected progress in critical sectors, such as judicial, police and economic reforms, particularly the modernization and privatization of the agricultural sector. The border should also be demarcated, and institutions critical to association with the European Union should be established. He was also concerned by the instability resulting from the arraignment of some political figures. With respect to the prosecution of war crimes, the Security Council must remain firm in its principle of apprehending the fugitives and transferring them to the Tribunal. The authorities of Bosnia and Herzegovina must be reminded of their obligation to engage in full and complete cooperation with the Tribunal, and they must speed up progress in that regard. The High Representative should bring pressure to bear on all concerned agencies to obtain concrete results.
ALBERTO D’ALOTTO ( Argentina) highlighted the commitment and dedication of Lord Ashdown since he undertook the job in 2002, and the way in which he had promoted the peacemaking process in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The authorities there had also made progress towards meeting the requirements to begin talks with the European Union and NATO. Notwithstanding those advances, he regretted the lack of full cooperation with the Tribunal, as well as the need to enact legislation in certain areas in keeping with the principles of community institutions, such as police reform. He had faith in the commitment of the authorities concerning compliance with the outstanding issues, so that the transition could be made from the “ Dayton era” to the “ Brussels era”.
In the Dayton context, he continued, certain institutions should be replaced by new arrangements, which better reflected the events of the past 10 years. He encouraged full compliance with the Dayton Agreement and its effective implementation, particularly with respect to the International Tribunal, as a means of securing justice and the rule of law in a society emerging from conflict. He appealed to the Bosnian authorities to support the Tribunal’s work and ensure that those not yet brought to justice were brought before the Court. It was only through concerted action to combat impunity that the development of judicial institutions and the necessary reconciliation could be promoted, leading to attainment of a “sustainable society”.
ADAMANTIOS VASSILAKIS ( Greece) noted that negotiations and work had begun last week on a Stabilization and Association Agreement between the European Union and Bosnia and Herzegovina, a process that could be finalized at the next meeting of the European Union Council. He said the launch of those negotiations was backed by a successful tackling of obstacles that amounted to a regeneration of the country, based on new foundations. Yet, as recently as last June, today’s success had been far from guaranteed.
A number of developments had cleared the way for the current step, he said, including the adoption of the Public Broadcasting System Law to provide for three multi-ethnic broadcasters in all three languages. Also, progress on police reform and on unification of Mostar and Brcko. The completion of defence reform at the legislative level gave the country the armed forces to meet challenges and brought it near its goal of participating in the Partnership for Peace group of neighbouring countries.
With all that, he said one question risked undermining all the effort and that was full compliance with the International Tribunal. Progress had been made this year, with 15 indictees transferred to The Hague. But Mladic and Karadzic were still at large. The eluding of justice of those two war protagonists represented lack of full compliance. That obstacle to the future of Bosnia and Herzegovina was holding the country hostage.
PAULO ROBERTO CAMPOS TARRISSE DA FONTOURA ( Brazil) said the United Nations’ work had been essential for institutional reform and the building of a multi-ethnic society. The reforms had taken place at a steady pace. The phasing out of direct international control was recommended for the success of the next phase in Bosnia and Herzegovina. International partners should be prepared to play an increasingly advisory and cooperative role. In that regard, he was pleased with the news from Brussels. As the international community approached the tenth anniversary of the Dayton Agreement, the necessary structures would need to be created, leading to the establishment of unified State institutions and the true integration among the Serb, Croat and Muslim communities.
While cooperation with the International Tribunal had improved, the failure to bring Mr. Mladic and Mr. Karadzic before the International Tribunal was a primary source of concern, hindering European Union integration, he said. The discovery of yet another mass grave last week was further proof of the seriousness of the crimes committed and the need for justice. Yet, he welcomed the fact that only five indictees now remained at large. Modernization and economic reform remained essential in efforts to obtain a market economy. Stability depended also on the health of economic indicators and many problems in that regard needed to be tackled.
ANDREY DENISOV ( Russian Federation), in his national capacity, said that Lord Ashdown’s thorough briefing had painted a picture of developments in the current phase of implementation of the peace agreements. He paid tribute to the High Representative’s efforts to advance the peace process. In the nearly four years of his tenure, several reforms had been initiated. Those had been aimed at increasing the effectiveness of the country’s central institutions, particularly in implementing military and tax reforms. In the end, a compromise should be achieved with respect to reorganizing the Ministry of Internal Affairs. Advancing that reform was very delicate, and the interests of all Bosnian parties should be taken into account.
Regarding the key issues to be resolved for the future of the country, he highlighted the fate of the constitution, for which the Bosnians, themselves, must play an important role. The sensitivity of that item and its far-reaching consequences dictated the need for a careful weighing of every step, in order to avoid destabilizing still fragile inter-ethnic relations. In addition, the international community’s involvement in that process should be channelled within the strict parameters of the Peace Implementation Council’s steering board. Authoritarian decisions in that area would do little to promote progress. Of equal urgency were the major challenges enshrined in the very philosophy of the Dayton Agreement, namely, strengthening the climate of trust and cooperation among the people of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the importance of achieving consensus in building a stable statehood.
In particular, he said, attention should be focused on genuine equality, problems of local self-government, and the returning refugees and internally displaced persons. He had been pleased to note the progress towards strengthening the Bosnian institutions. It was critically important for the High Representative to continue to act in the spirit of partnership with the Bosnian parties, orienting activity towards the adoption of independent, consensual decisions. As the tenth anniversary of the peace agreement approached, and in light of the upcoming elections in 2006 and the conversion of the Office of the High Representative into the European Union mission, he called for the prompt transfer to the Bosnian parties of the fate of their country. His own country would continue to play an active and constructive role in the ongoing settlement process, within the parameters of the Peace Implementation Council and the contact group, and in close association with the High Representative.
MILOS PRICA ( Bosnia and Herzegovina) said the tenth anniversary of the Dayton Peace Agreement, coming in less than one week, was a perfect opportunity to re-evaluate progress made and goals achieved during the last decade. Indeed, they were tremendous. Five years ago, not many would have predicted that just five years later Bosnia and Herzegovina would be ready to start negotiations with the European Union on a Stabilization and Association Agreement. The High Representative’s report, which covered the period from January to July, did not include recent developments in the last four months. Bosnia and Herzegovina had succeeded in fulfilling all the conditions required by the European Commission’s feasibility study and expected to start negotiations with the European Union on a Stabilization and Association Agreement early next month.
The current moment was the most important in the post-Dayton era, he added. Beginning negotiations with the European Union would mark another very important change for Bosnia and Herzegovina. Bosnia and Herzegovina’s institutions had to start taking full responsibility for the country’s future, while the role of the Office of the High Representative would gradually change.
Highlighting some of the most remarkable achievements in recent months, he said the defence reform had been virtually completed. Agreement had also been reached for one of the most sensitive issues, namely, police reform. Cooperation with the International Tribunal by the authorities of the Republika Srpska had become concrete, although more needed to be done. He had great hopes that the last seven of the indictees would be brought to justice by the end of the year, enabling the Tribunal’s exit strategy to become effective. Judiciary reform was on its way, as were economic reforms. The value added tax (VAT) would start from January 2006, and he expected that measure to have a significant impact on eliminating the grey economy, as well as on the increase of the budget.
He stressed the need to accelerate the privatization process, as the main generator for overcoming the legacy of the State-controlled economy. Completing privatization and engaging young professionals was the only long-term solution for economic transition and recovery. On the positive side, it was important to underline that the country had a very low inflation rate, a stable economy, rising foreign currency reserves and a very favourable foreign debt/gross domestic product (GDP) ratio. Even the high trade deficit was being offset with remittances from abroad. There were also some signs that exports during the year had risen more robustly then imports. In the last five years, the country had enjoyed a significant GDP growth, one of the highest in the region.
Regional cooperation in the Balkans continued to strengthen, he said, with particular emphasis on good relations with neighbouring countries. The European aspect was boosting confidence in peace and prosperity throughout the region. Bosnia and Herzegovina stood ready to support development of good relations between neighbours on the grounds of sovereignty, mutual respect and non-interference in the internal affairs, thus contributing to the region’s overall stability. On the eve of the tenth anniversary of the Dayton/Paris Peace Accords, he thanked the international community for its support in the last decade, without which no significant progress would have been possible.
ALDO MANTOVANI ( Italy) said the international community had long considered the opportunity to cut back its commitment in Bosnia and Herzegovina, so as to attribute greater responsibility to the local political forces. That would overcome the institutional anomaly of a State, formally sovereign, but substantially conditioned by a framework of strong international supervision. The international community had judged that the current phase was now complete. The possibility of undertaking a reform of the Dayton arrangements had been facilitated by the recent progress in reforming the police and the military. That had paved the way for the start of the Stabilization and Association Agreement negotiations with the European Union.
He said that new context also now made it possible to give new impetus to reforming the Office of the High Representative; the time had come to assess a significant reduction in its powers, with an eye to giving greater responsibility to the institutions and political forces of Bosnia and Herzegovina. That would make effective the concept of empowerment, and make tangible the message that the international community intended to convey, namely, that the institutions and people of Bosnia and Herzegovina now had the prospects for a concrete approach to, and integration with, the European Union. In parallel to that process, the international presence in the country should be redefined, based on the need to assist in building institutional capacity, rather than management of a country with weak local institutions.
The 10-year anniversary of the Dayton Agreements, he added, should mark a watershed, and it was an opportunity to overcome the strong distortions present in the local administrative system, which was “dangerously over-reliant” on external intervention in the management of questions of internal policy.
Responding to the comments raised during the discussion, Mr. ASHDOWN said he had learned one lesson as a young man, namely, not to stand in between an audience and its meal. He would not do so now. Thanking those who had used such generous words towards him, he said it had been a privilege to serve the Council, the international community and the people of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
While his report today might be considered optimistic, it might also be true that the worst part of the journey, from blood to conflict, was now behind Bosnia and Herzegovina, he said. Nevertheless, the country had a long way to go and would require the international community’s constant attention. While he was confident that the journey would be completed, it was far too early for the international community to say that the job had been done. In the second phase of the journey, namely, the transition, the European Union would provide the scaffolding for the journey. It was, however, important for wider international community to remain in place. The European Union might provide the scaffolding, but the Peace Implementation Council must continue in its crucial role, for it was only through that body that non-European Union members could play their part.
An essential part of that was the progressive handover of power to Bosnia and Herzegovina politicians, he said. The Office of the High Representative had long ago abandoned the commanding approach and there had been a persistent transfer to the Bosnian authorities, in such key areas as refugee return and police and judicial reform. Indeed, he had used the Bonn Powers only once this year. The decline in the use of the Bonn Powers must continue. The Office had, in fact, been halved in size and budget.
He agreed that the regional aspect was critical. If he had a criticism of the international community’s approach to the western Balkans, it was the lack of a regional policy. The regional element was crucial to the country’s success. It was also true that economic improvement was needed to touch on people’s ordinary lives. On constitutional reform, he agreed that increasing the efficiency of the Bosnia and Herzegovina State was crucial. It would take time, as it was a process, and not an event. The process had begun, however. In his view, major progress would not occur until after the October 2006 elections. While the international community had a role to play, in the end, the only way to achieve new structures for Bosnia and Herzegovina was by consensus among its people.
* *** *For information media • not an official record