HIGH REPRESENTATIVE FOR BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA BRIEFS SECURITY COUNCIL, NOTING RECENT TRANSFER TO HAGUE OF FIVE MAJOR WAR CRIMES INDICTEES
HIGH REPRESENTATIVE FOR BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA BRIEFS SECURITY COUNCIL, NOTING RECENT TRANSFER TO HAGUE OF FIVE MAJOR WAR CRIMES INDICTEES
5147th Meeting (AM)*
High representative for bosnia and Herzegovina briefs Security Council,
Noting recent transfer to hague of FIVE major war crimes indictees
Paddy Ashdown Says Cooperation with International Criminal Tribunal,
Police Restructuring Key Issues in Progress towards European Integration
The Republika Srpska had transferred five major war crimes indictees to the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia in the last two months, compared to the almost 10 previous years when they had not transferred a single one, Paddy Ashdown, High Representative for the Implementation of the Peace Agreement on Bosnia and Herzegovina, said this morning in his periodic briefing to the Security Council.
Recalling that he had warned about the failure of the Republika Srpska to honour its obligations to the Tribunal in his last briefing 16 weeks ago, he said the situation now seemed rather more hopeful, but it was early days yet and seasoned observers, including Council members, should remain sceptical until the transfer process had been properly opened up. The Republika Srpska authorities must change their attitude and accept that the way towards the future of Bosnia and Herzegovina lay through The Hague.
He said that earlier this morning General Vinko Pandurevic, arguably the third most senior indictee after Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic, had arrived in The Hague, noting that other generals had also turned themselves over to the Tribunal. However, General Mladic, their commander, who was still at large, should reflect upon the fact that his subordinates had taken it upon themselves to turn themselves in, while he scurried from one safe house to another. Ten years after Srbrenica, call for justice had not faded away and the process would not end until Karadzic, Mladic and other remaining indictees were in the Tribunal’s custody.
Describing a failure to cooperate with the Tribunal as the biggest stumbling block to Bosnia and Herzegovina’s future within the European Union and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), he said that the country’s application to join the NATO Partnership for Peace had recently been blocked for that reason, but was being kept under close review and NATO might consider it again in the third week of April. The Partnership for Peace and the beginning of the long road to European Union membership were a watershed for Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The European Union Enlargement Commissioner had made it clear that the other cardinal issue for progress was police restructuring, he said. The Police Restructuring Commission had presented its recommendations in January, including one on the establishment of a single structure based on operational efficiency, rather than political control. Police restructuring was not a pretext to do away with the Republika Srpska, as that entity’s position was protected under the Dayton Peace Agreements.
The representative of Luxembourg, speaking on behalf of the European Union and associated States, encouraged the Bosnia and Herzegovina authorities to take advantage of the conclusions of the Police Restructuring Commission’s report, as well as those of the High Representative concerning State competencies and territorial structures for the country’s new police service. A modern, effective, financially stable and well equipped police force was essential in fighting organized crime. To assist in reaching that goal, the European Union Police Mission had provided advice on the introduction of new border-control legislation underpinning the new State Investigation and Protection Agency. The Mission was also assisting in capacity-building to help local police achieve financial viability and sustainability.
He said EUFOR reinforced the European Union’s comprehensive approach towards Bosnia and Herzegovina and supported its progress towards integration by its own efforts, within the Stabilization and Association Process. The Union also recognized the progress already made on the 16 reform priorities identified in the European Commission Feasibility Study, especially with regard to the legislative requirements. Implementation and enforcement of the adopted legislation was an important next step. However, despite those encouraging developments, the European Commission had not been ready to declare “significant progress” across the 16 priority areas, including cooperation with the International Tribunal.
Barisa Colak, Bosnia and Herzegovina’s Minister for Security, said the country was ready to fulfil its international obligations towards the Tribunal, noting that national judicial structures were now ready to take on the processing of war crimes, now that the War Crimes Chamber had been established in the State Court. It had also set up an inter-agency working group responsible for cooperation with the Tribunal, which was a huge step forward. The institutions of Bosnia and Herzegovina were now taking over the responsibility for coordination and control over all the agencies in charge of arresting war criminals still at large. The most important pillar in every democracy was the independent judiciary and building trust in that institution was another step towards the rule of law, reconciliation and stabilization.
As part of the process of Euro-Atlantic integration and the embracing of European Union standards, Bosnia and Herzegovina wished to build a State in which all its citizens could trust, he said. To that end, it was necessary to reform the military, police and judiciary and the country had made progress in reforming the financial, customs and tax systems; defence and security structures; the rule of law; and border control. In addition, the return of refugees and displaced persons was now being solved through direct negotiations with neighbouring countries. Out of 2,200,000 refugees and displaced persons, around 1 million had returned to their pre-war homes, whereas another quarter of a million wished to do so. A sustainable return process must imply that people had full access to all their rights.
Other speakers included the representatives of the United Republic of Tanzania, China, Benin, Denmark, Philippines, Romania, United Kingdom, Japan, Russian Federation, France, Algeria, United States, Greece, Argentina and Brazil.
Today’s meeting began at 10:16 a.m. and ended at 12:18 p.m.
As the Security Council met this morning, it had before it the twenty-seventh report of the High Representative for the Implementation of the Peace Agreement on Bosnia and Herzegovina (document S/2005/156, which states that the country is concentrating on meeting the requirements for membership of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Partnership for Peace and satisfying the conditions required for the launch of negotiations with the European Union on a stabilization and association agreement. The European Commission Feasibility Study on conditions for opening negotiations and the requirements for entry to the Partnership for Peace were the focus of political attention in the second half of 2004.
Recalling NATO’s successful termination of the mission of the Stabilization Force (SFOR), on 2 December 2004, and the launch of the European Force (EUFOR) Operation Althea, the report says that EUFOR now has the main peace stabilization role and monitors the implementation of the military aspects of the General Framework Agreement for Peace. Unlike SFOR, it has an explicit mandate to support the fight against organized crime in order to strengthen the safe and secure environment and to help Bosnia and Herzegovina progress towards a self-governing and self-policing capacity.
The report states that, in response to Prime Minister Adnan Terzie’s initiative, a Police Restructuring Commission was established on 5 July 2004 with a mandate to propose a single policing structure for Bosnia and Herzegovina under the overall political oversight of a ministry or ministries in the Council of Ministers. In addition, since the formal establishment of the Intelligence and Security Agency on 1 June 2004, the physical and organizational unification of the two former entity intelligence services has proceeded according to the transition provisions set out in the law on the Intelligence and Security Agency. A review of all employees resulted in staff being cut by 307 persons at the start of 2005.
According to the report, the European Union Police Mission was fully engaged in the police restructuring process and also set up a police restructuring working group to represent its views to the Police Restructuring Commission. The state-level Ministry of Security has achieved notable progress in recruiting staff and establishing internal departments covering its area of responsibility. In addition, the Minister of Security has taken over the chairmanship of the Ministerial Consultative Meeting on Police Matters –- originally established under the United Nations Mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina/International Police Task Force -- through which he coordinates and oversees the political aspects of all state-level police agencies.
The report notes that, despite remarkable progress on defence reform, in December 2004, NATO once again turned down Bosnia and Herzegovina’s application to join the Partnership for Peace owing to its failure to cooperate fully with the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY). The downsizing of the entity armies was completed during the review period, as provided for in the Bosnia and Herzegovina Presidency’s decision of March 2004 on the size and structure of the country’s armed forces, and the active forces now total 12,000.
According to the report, the Office of the High Representative continued to work on building the capacities of the State Court and its Rule of Law Department and supervised the recruitment of international judges and prosecutors for the special panel on organized crime and financial crimes. The Office also led the way in establishing a special war crimes department within the State Prosecutor’s Office and a special chamber for war crimes within the State Court. Efforts to develop a sound anti-money-laundering programme have proceeded, and the Anti-Crime and Corruption Unit sought to facilitate the international agreements necessary to forge cooperation between and among the national enforcement agencies, prosecutors and courts and their counterparts abroad.
Noting the return of 1 million refugees, the report states that the rate of property-law implementation, a vital precondition for return, has continued to climb. While it had been hoped that the process would be finished by now, Banja Luka continues to lag behind, though all other municipalities have finished the job and an end date is expected around April 2005. The Bosnia and HerzegovinaState Commission for Refugees and Displaced Persons continues to act as the main coordinating body between the State, the entities and the Brcko District, but the Republika Srpska has still not harmonized its entity legislation with the State Law on Refugees and Displaced Persons.
Significant progress has been achieved in unifying the city of Mostar and, in October, the City Council chose a moderate Croat as its first mayor, the report says. Progress has also been made in joining ethnically divided institutions and a degree of cooperation between the moderate majorities of the main political parties has started to emerge. However, the political situation remains fragile and potentially volatile, and much of the technical process of unification has still to be completed. For that reason, a small international team remains to assist the mayor and the Council.
According to the report, Bosnia and Herzegovina has continued to pursue its policy of good-neighbourly relations and active regional cooperation. The growing international pressure on Serbia and Montenegro and the Republika Srpska to cooperate with the ICTY has reinforced the crucial need for cooperation on both sides of the border. The reporting period was marked by a high-profile visit by Serbian President Boris Tadic to Bosnia and Herzegovina, during which he offered his apologies “for those who committed crimes in the name of the Serb people” during the war. In the course of his visit, the members of the Bosnia and Herzegovina Presidency and the Serbian President officially agreed that the common goal of their countries was European Union membership and the Partnership for Peace.
In Croatia, the re-election of President Mesic is expected to contribute positively to continuity and stability in both Bosnia and Herzegovina and the region, the report notes. The election afforded an opportunity to return to the long-standing issue of double citizenship and the related question of dual voting rights for Bosnia and Herzegovina Croats. The ongoing constructive dialogue surrounding that question is a sign that normalization between the two countries is moving ahead. In addition, Bosnia and Herzegovina’s successful presidency of the South-East European Cooperation Process, including the first meeting of regional defence ministers, demonstrated both the country’s capacity to play a valuable political role at the regional level and the utility of the Process as an inter-State forum.
The report also contains sections on core reforms and political developments, including the first municipal elections to be administered wholly by local institutions; the European Community feasibility study requirements; reforming the economy; strengthening the State Government; public administration and civil service reform; police certification; and media development.
Statement by High Representative
PADDY ASHDOWN, High Representative for the Implementation of the Peace Agreement on Bosnia and Herzegovina, recalled that in his last briefing 16 weeks ago, he had warned about the failure of the Republika Srpska to honour its obligations to the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, a failure that was the biggest stumbling block to the future of Bosnia and Herzegovina within the European Union and NATO. Shortly after that briefing, NATO had had to block the country’s application to join the Partnership for Peace. The situation now seemed rather more hopeful, as the Republika Srpska had at last started to hand over war crimes indictees to the Tribunal. However, it was early days yet and seasoned observers, including Council members, should remain sceptical until that process had been properly opened up. There must be a change in the attitude of the Republika Srpska authorities and an acceptance that the way to Brussels, the European Union, NATO and the future of Bosnia and Herzegovina must go through The Hague.
He noted that, in the last two months, the Republika Srpska authorities had transferred, either on their own or with the authorities in Belgrade, five major indictees, whereas in the previous nearly 10 years they had not transferred a single one. Earlier this morning, General Vinko Pandurevic, arguably the third most senior indictee after Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic, had arrived in The Hague. He and other generals had turned themselves in, but their commander, General Mladic, was still at large. The fugitive commander should reflect upon the fact that his subordinates had taken it upon themselves to turn themselves over to The Hague, while he scurried from safe house to safe house. Ten years after Srbrenica, the call for justice had not and should not fade away and the process would not end until Karadzic, Mladic and other remaining indictees were in the Tribunal’s custody. While the process had only just started, the Republika Srpska authorities were to be commended, nevertheless. As winter gave way to spring, Bosnia and Herzegovina had to consider its future within the European Union and NATO, which was keeping the country’s application to join the Partnership for Peace under close review. The organization might consider that question again in the third week of April.
The Partnership for Peace and the beginning of the long road to European Union membership were a watershed for Bosnia and Herzegovina, he said. On Monday this week, the European Union Enlargement Commissioner had made it clear that the other cardinal issue for progress was police restructuring. The Police Restructuring Commission had presented its recommendations in January, including one on the establishment of a single structure based on operational efficiency, rather than political control. The Commission’s proposals were being widely debated within Bosnia and Herzegovina, most of whose citizens believed that there was too much political interference and that criminals were getting away too often. They were right on both counts.
Regarding suspicions that police restructuring was a means to do away with the Republika Srpska, he stressed that the entity’s position was protected under Dayton and that there was neither a policy nor an intent to alter the current position. The Republika Srpska authorities were the only ones blocking police reform. Moreover, it was becoming painfully clear that there had been recent signs of backsliding by the Republika Srpska authorities on defence reform. While reform may have been more painful for them than for the Federation authorities, they must be clear about was at stake, both for them and for the country as a whole. It would be foolish in the extreme to go backwards on the reform agenda.
One key event in Bosnia and Herzegovina had been the switch from SFOR to EUFOR, a groundbreaking exchange that had passed off extremely well, he said. It had been the definition of a seamless transition in which the Bosnia and Herzegovina citizens had barely noticed the change of command. However, it was necessary to address the financial sustainability of reform. The Federation Government had failed to live up to the promises and commitments it had made to the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and stood to lose aid programmes from those institutions.
He said this would be his penultimate briefing to the Security Council and that he would resign at the end of the year as High Representative and European Union Special Representative. This should be a year in which Bosnia and Herzegovina made a decisive break with the past and started to embed itself into the Euro-Atlantic structures that were its rightful home. Once that happened, the country really would be at the end of its consolidation and entering a new era of Euro-Atlantic integration.
BARISA COLAK, Deputy Chairman of the Council of Ministers and Minister for Security of Bosnia and Herzegovina, said that the reporting period was marked by the shift from the so-called Dayton era to the so-called Brussels era. That was the result of dedicated work on fulfilling the Feasibility Study recommendations, especially in terms of legislation. Up to date, 38 new laws had entered into force. His country was now in the final phase of complying with the recommendations from the Study. He expected that the European Union would recognize significant progress on the country’s part, and give it a green light for the opening of Stabilization and Association Agreement negotiations in May this year.
Among the areas in which progress had been made was in reforming the financial, customs and tax systems; defence and security structures; rule of law; and border control. The issue of the return of refugees and displaced persons was now being solved through direct negotiations with neighbouring countries. He noted that 10 years after the signing of the peace agreement, the process of return was still not finished. The return of property was successfully completed in most of the country. Out of 2,200,000 refugees and displaced persons, around 1 million returned to their pre-war homes, whereas another quarter of a million wished to. A sustainable return process must imply that people had full access to all of their rights.
As part of the process of integration and embracing of Union standards, his country wished to build a State which all of her citizens could trust. To that end, reforming the military, police and judiciary was necessary. The most important pillar in every democracy was the independent judiciary. Building trust in the judiciary was another step towards the rule of law, reconciliation and stabilization in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
His country stood ready to invest further in fulfilling its international obligations, particularly towards the International Tribunal, he said. Recently, there had been significant progress in transferring of persons indicted of war crimes to The Hague. Judicial structures in the country were now ready to take on processing of war crimes, now that the War Crimes Chamber had been established in the State Court. It had also set up an inter-agency working group that was in charge of cooperation with the Tribunal, which was a huge step forward. The institutions of Bosnia and Herzegovina were now taking over the responsibility for coordination and control over all the agencies in charge of arresting war criminals still at large.
AUGUSTINE MAHIGA (United Republic of Tanzania), expressing satisfaction at the return of the 1 million refugees, noted that the authorities had made encouraging progress in implementing the property law to permit the return of refugees and their smooth reintegration. The United Republic of Tanzania had, over the years, provided shelter to hundreds of thousands of refugees from neighbouring countries. Experiences like that of Bosnia and Herzegovina raised hopes that a refugee presence in host countries was, after all, a temporary situation and that countries of origin had ultimately to take responsibility for the return of their citizens.
The establishment of the War Crimes Chamber within the State Court and the appointment of judges and prosecutors was a very significant step, he said. The essential thing now was to ensure that the prosecution of individuals accused of war crimes and organized crime was carried out and the rule of law was upheld. The United Republic of Tanzania encouraged Bosnia and Herzegovina also to cooperate with the International Tribunal. The country was also encouraged, in cooperation with the Office of the High Representative and EUFOR, to continue to monitor weapons smuggling, to apprehend all war criminals and to ensure that the stability achieved was durable and sustained.
WANG GUANGYA (China) said he was pleased to note that, since the second half of last year, positive work had been done and results achieved in consolidating national authority, economic recovery, institutional reform and refugee return, among others. The Office of the High Representative had also played a positive and facilitating role in that regard. He welcomed the smooth handover from SFOR to EUFOR. The Union would make a useful contribution to the maintenance of peace and stability in Bosnia and Herzegovina. He noted that this year marked the tenth anniversary of the signing of the Peace Agreement, and progress had been made in all areas. He expected all sides to further their mutual trust and solidarity in order to lead all the people of Bosnia and Herzegovina on the road towards peaceful coexistence. China would make its own efforts for the achievement of lasting peace and economic development in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
JOEL ADECHI (Benin) said that national projects to advance towards the Stabilization and Association Agreement were decisive for peace building and the development of the country. Encouraging information provided by the High Representative had demonstrated that the authorities understood the importance of that question for the future of the country. He hoped the issue of war crimes could be further resolved. The reform of the economy seemed to have gained speed and he welcomed measures for monetary and tax policy. He also welcomed efforts in the area of defence to strengthen the central State and the restoration of the competencies exercised by the entities. It was important to strengthen actions to inculcate a genuine culture of peace throughout the country. The situation regarding the establishment of a media monitoring policy was not satisfactory, and he hoped obstacles in adopting a law on the media could be overcome.
LARS FAABORG-ANDERSEN (Denmark) said that, looking at the developments since November when Bosnia and Herzegovina was last debated in the Council, it was appropriate to commend EUFOR for the smooth transition from SFOR and, not least, for the proactive and hands-on effort in reinforcing security and stability made by EUFOR from the very beginning of its mandate. The division of work and cooperation with the remaining NATO headquarters in Sarajevo had proven to be faultless and, thus, he saw no need for changes in that regard.
He also commended the High Representative for the way he had managed to achieve visible progress, while maintaining the difficult balance between, on the one hand, using proactively his “Bonn powers” and, on the other hand, ensuring a gradual transfer of responsibility and political ownership to the polity of Bosnia and Herzegovina. He supported the gradual downsizing of the Office of the High Representative. But the job was not yet finished. Adjustments to the Bonn powers should be contemplated in a measured way and with due attention to the likelihood of new crises in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
In addition, his country was strongly committed to the European destiny of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Membership in NATO’s Partnership for Peace programme was within reach. Hopefully, Bosnia and Herzegovina would soon take up the demanding task of negotiating a Stabilization and Association Agreement with the European Union. The road ahead was clear, but so were the conditions that the Government in Sarajevo would have to fulfil. That was particularly true with regard to the full and unconditional cooperation with the International Tribunal by both the national government and the entities. The fact that Radovan Karadzic, Ratko Mladic and others indicted for war crimes were still at large continued to cast a dark shadow on all other progress achieved in Bosnia and Herzegovina and on the efforts of the international community for now more than a decade in that country.
BAYANI MERCADO (Philippines) said that Bosnia and Herzegovina was on the right course towards peace and stability with the creation of the War Crimes Chamber within the court of Bosnia and Herzegovina to prosecute war crimes and organized crimes through its own judicial system, and the appointment of the first group of judges and prosecutors were a big leap towards instituting reforms in its judiciary. The establishment of a full-fledged State-level police agency, the State Investigation and Protection Agency, to combat organized and international crime, corruption and terrorism, and a Police Restructuring Commission was also important.
The holding of the first municipal elections in October 2004 was another important accomplishment in instituting political reforms, he continued. Remarkable progress had also been made in its economic reform agenda. The successful rebalancing of the Government’s budgets and the significant advancement in the implementation of a single set of tax rules throughout the country were decisive steps in moving economic reform forward.
Despite the accomplishments, he said, Bosnia and Herzegovina had to hurdle the remaining obstacles to its Euro-Atlantic integration -- its lack of cooperation with the International Tribunal. That hampered its application to join NATO’s Partnership for Peace, despite the remarkable progress it made on the defence reform front. Bosnia and Herzegovina authorities should remain seriously committed in bringing forth those who committed war crimes to justice and continue efforts to investigate and prosecute other war crimes so that the country could emerge from the bloody chapter in its history. The establishment of the War Crimes Chamber within the State Council was a positive development towards that realization.
MIHNEA MOTOC (Romania), associating himself with the statement to be made on behalf of the European Union, noted that European and Euro-Atlantic integration was fundamental to the lasting healing of the Western Balkans. At the same time, the results would not have been achieved without the commitment of the authorities in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Romania hoped that this year, Bosnia and Herzegovina would advance its top goals: to join the Partnership for Peace and to launch negotiations with the European Union on a Stabilization and Association Agreement.
Cooperation with the International Tribunal remained the essential condition for the country’s progress on its path towards European and Euro-Atlantic integration, he said, urging the authorities in Bosnia and Herzegovina, especially those in the Republika Srpska, to cooperate. All those international organizations that the country aspired to join were very firm and unequivocal in their position that there could be no compromise on that issue.
He said Romania was very pleased with the seamless transition from SFOR to the European Union-led peacekeeping force to which the country contributed troops and aircraft. Romania welcomed in particular the fact that EUFOR had an explicit mandate to support the fight against organized crime, an important aspect in stabilizing the region. EUFOR’s assistance to the European Union Police Mission in the field was of particular relevance.
EMYR JONES PARRY (United Kingdom), also associating himself with the statement to be made on behalf of the European Union, said that the High Representative had produced a clear and coherent implementation of policy carried out by various actors. It was a very good example for the establishment of the kind of peace-building body that the Secretary-General had proposed in his report on Monday. The European Union and NATO had demonstrated how they were working together for the benefit of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the United Kingdom was glad to hear the largely positive statement by that country’s Minister for Security.
However, he expressed surprise at the Minister’s statement about the role of international judges who, it had been thought, were in Bosnia and Herzegovina at the country’s request. While the United Kingdom agreed with him on the importance of an independent judiciary, there was an impediment to progress. Full cooperation with the International Tribunal was still not in place, although there were reports of improved cooperation by the Republika Srpska. The Council had made clear the obligation of all Member States to help bring all fugitive indictees to trial in The Hague and the continued freedom of Karadzic, Mladic and others was a prior condition for Euro-Atlantic integration. Those who supported, financed and sheltered the fugitives must realize that they were not patriots, but a reminder of everything that had disfigured the region in the last 15 years, as well as the biggest obstacles to its progress and success. Their apprehension was vital if Bosnia and Herzegovina was to take its rightful place in the international community.
SHINICHI KITAOKA (Japan) said that, despite progress achieved, there was still much to be done in Bosnia and Herzegovina on the most urgent tasks, such as consolidation of the rule of law and further reform of the economy, which must include improving the investment environment, and strengthening of the State institutions. He believed that a resolution of the issue of war crimes was essential for the true implementation of peace. He called on the relevant authorities in Bosnia and Herzegovina to fully cooperate with the International Tribunal and to extradite every person indicted for war crimes to the Tribunal. He also underscored the importance of the War Crimes Chamber, which had been established to prosecute war crimes inside Bosnia and Herzegovina, and was expected to be effective in fostering reconciliation in the country. Japan had contributed to that important project by providing training to the staff and equipment for the Chamber through the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
Japan had been actively contributing to the peace implementation process in Bosnia and Herzegovina as a member of the Steering Board of the Peace Implementation Council, he said. It had pledged $500 million to support rehabilitation and reconstruction in the country. Last April in Tokyo, Japan co-chaired with the Union Presidency the Ministerial Conference on Peace Consolidation and Economic Development of the Western Balkans. At the Conference, Japan expressed the view that, to ensure that the stabilization and development of that region would be irreversible, regional efforts should be made focusing on three key elements, namely, consolidation of peace, economic development and regional cooperation. Japan was providing support in line with that view by dispatching advisers to help stimulate investment and co-hosting a workshop on the promotion of tourism in the Western Balkans, among other measures.
ANDREY DENISOV (Russian Federation) said that a great deal of work lay ahead in order to move ahead on the road from the Dayton era to the Brussels era. The Dayton Agreement continued to remain the cornerstone of the peace process in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Today, the overarching objectives of Dayton were just as relevant as they were before in building a stable country. He noted with satisfaction the strengthening of state institutions in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Along with measures relating to the State and the military, it was necessary to pay greater attention to the genuine equality of people throughout the country. It was necessary to concentrate on local self-government and the return of refugees and displaced persons.
His country, as a guarantor of the Dayton Peace Agreement and a member of the Steering Committee of the Peace Implementation Council, believed that all individual responsible for war crimes must be brought to justice. Russia would continue to cooperate with the International Tribunal. He noted with satisfaction that the States of the Balkans were becoming more active in resolving problems shared by the whole region. He was gratified by the meeting in January between Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia and Montenegro and Croatia, which resulted in a declaration on refugee return and the restoration of property rights. It was necessary to ensure that such an agreement was implemented in practice. Further success of the process in Bosnia and Herzegovina, he noted, would hinge on the development of the situation throughout the entire Balkan region
MICHEL DUCLOS (France), associating himself with the statement to be made on behalf of the European Union, said there was reason to be satisfied with the outstanding progress made in Bosnia and Herzegovina, particularly in economic, judicial and defence reform. France supported the country’s transition from the era of consolidation to that of integration and full normalization.
Reaffirming his country’s support for full cooperation with the International Tribunal, he noted with satisfaction the specific results that were making themselves felt, particularly those that had resulted from decisive pressure by the High Representative. France hoped that the leaders of Bosnia and Herzegovina would continue to shoulder their responsibilities. International action must serve as a complement to, rather than a replacement of, their own responsibility and such a relationship would only strengthen that leadership.
ABDALLAH BAALI (Algeria) said that Bosnia and Herzegovina had worked for a decade to stabilize and standardize its relations with the international community and was about to turn the page on one of the saddest periods in Balkan history. The deep-seated changes made in various areas constituted significant progress in the building of a stable and peaceful State. The strengthening of the legal framework through the establishment of new competent bodies were all positive results that would work towards the consolidation of the rule of law, which would, in turn, work against the rule of criminal gangs.
He said his country was encouraged by the continuing unification of the city of Mostar and by the return of refugees. However, there was not enough cooperation with the International Tribunal in bringing those indicted of war crimes to The Hague. The fulfilment of that obligation would help to bring about a more tolerant and multiethnic society. Finally, Algeria welcomed the replacement of SFOR with the EUFOR.
STUART HOLLIDAY (United States) welcomed the many positive achievements in Bosnia and Herzegovina, including the establishment of the War Crimes Chamber, the return of the one millionth refugee, tax reforms and additional progress in defence reform. In all those areas, the State and entity governments were taking on greater responsibility and ownership. In the 10 years since the end of the war, the people of Bosnia and Herzegovina had accomplished a great deal. Few could have imagined, though, that the obligations to the International Tribunal would still be unmet. The voluntary surrender of indictees in Republika Srpska was a welcome step, but much more was required. All persons indicted must be arrested and transferred to The Hague. Close to 10 years after the end of the war, it was time to resolve that issue and put it to rest.
Bosnia and Herzegovina had faced that problem year after year, he noted. It would exact a higher and higher cost the longer it remained unresolved. The political leaders of Republika Srpska were obliged to take action to arrest those indicted of war crimes as were all leaders. Hard work and difficult decisions brought Bosnia and Herzegovina to realizing the twin objectives of membership in the Stabilization and Association Agreement and the European Union. He welcomed steps by Republika Srpska to meet the Tribunal obligations and encouraged them to finish the job. He also commended the smooth transition from SFOR to EUFOR. In June 2004, he added, the Security Council issued a presidential statement urging the country’s authorities to ensure that all International Police Task Force certification decisions were effectively implemented. He called on the relevant authorities to fulfil that task.
ADAMANTIOS TH. VASSILAKIS (Greece) said that full compliance and cooperation with the International Tribunal was the all important precondition for joining Europe, whether it was the Partnership for Peace or the opening of negotiations for Stabilization and Association Agreement with the European Union. Progress in the establishment of the War Crimes Chamber was another welcome sign of political maturity and the strengthened capacity of the Bosnia and Herzegovina authorities to uphold the rule of law. Economic reforms and the return of the one millionth refugee were also welcome achievements.
Security sector reform and police restructuring remained essential missing elements in the overall picture of progress, he said. The adoption of new laws on police officials, a new Immigration Service and State Border Service, among other things, was welcome developments. Nevertheless, implementation would be the criterion on which judgement would be passed and results measured. In that respect, the proposals of the Police Reform Committee and the High Representative concerning the new police service and its state competencies and structures must be implemented.
The Security Council presidential statement of 25 June 2004 affirmed that the full respect of the International Police Task Force decisions was an obligation of Bosnia and Herzegovina. On the question of police certification, the Bosnia and Herzegovina authorities had to adopt the amendments to harmonize the laws giving full effect to the United Nations certification decisions.
CESAR MAYORAL (Argentina) stressed the significant progress that had been made in advancing towards Euro-Atlantic integration, including advances in crime prevention and the creation of a single economic area. Argentina was also happy to note the repatriation of the one millionth refugee, which marked a milestone since the signing of the Dayton Agreement, and the continuing unification of the Mostar. While the High Representative had expressed concern about the negative economic situation during his last briefing, Argentina was satisfied with the progress that Bosnia and Herzegovina had made in rebalancing government budgets, as well as its measures to create equality among all companies.
However, despite all that progress, including defence reform, NATO had rejected Bosnia and Herzegovina’s application to join the Partnership for Peace owing to its lack of cooperation with the International Tribunal, he noted. With the conviction that justice was imperative for the establishment of peace, Argentina urged the authorities, particularly those in Serbia and Montenegro and the Republika Srpska, to ensure that those indicted for war crimes appeared before the International Tribunal. Only by working together against impunity could the development of legal institutions be promoted.
Council President RONALDO MOTA SARDENBERG (Brazil), speaking in his national capacity, said that there was much that was positive in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The authorities had shown increased commitment to progress, and there had been legislative and structural reforms. Also, the NATO benchmarks had mostly been reached and the launching of negotiations with the European Union was in sight. In addition, the city of Mostar now offered an example of integration between different communities. The High Representative and his office were giving able guidance to the reforms taking place.
However, he noted, cooperation with the International Tribunal remained a thorny issue. Bosnia and Herzegovina, and in particular Republika Srpska, must be encouraged to further their cooperation. Failure to do so was preventing the country from achieving certain goals, including opening negotiations on the Stabilization and Association Agreement with the European Union. Balancing government budgets and tax legislation had pushed forward much needed economic reform. The transition from SFOR to EUFOR had occurred smoothly in December, starting the transition from the Dayton era to the Brussels era. He was pleased to note that, according to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the situation regarding return had improved dramatically. It was encouraging that the Governments of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbian and Montenegro and Croatia intended to combine their plans to resolve the refugee issue by 2006.
JEAN-MARC HOSCHEIT (Luxembourg), speaking on behalf of the European Union and associated States, said that EUFOR reinforced the Union’s comprehensive approach towards Bosnia and Herzegovina and supported its progress towards Union integration by its own efforts, within the Stabilization and Association Process. In synergy with other Union actors on the ground, EUFOR was contributing to the Union’s overall engagement in Bosnia and Herzegovina by supporting its assistance programmes and its ongoing police and monitoring missions.
The Union recognized the good progress already made on the 16 reform priorities identified in the European Commission Feasibility Study, especially with regard to the legislative requirements. Implementation and enforcement of the adopted legislation was an important next step. Despite those encouraging developments, the European Commission had not been ready to declare “significant progress” across the 16 priority areas: some significant hurdles remained to be overcome in order for Bosnia and Herzegovina to advance towards the next stage of its relationship with the Union. Two areas he wanted to highlight today were cooperation with the International Tribunal and restructuring of police forces.
He said that full cooperation with the Tribunal, in particular by the Republika Srpska, continued to be an essential requirement for Bosnia and Herzegovina’s progress towards the Union. He welcomed the recent increase in the number of voluntary surrenders and transfers of indictees from Bosnia and Herzegovina to The Hague. Continuation of that trend should lead to a situation where all indictees continuing to evade international justice had been brought before the Tribunal. He noted with interest the launch on 15 March of a public campaign in the Republika Srpska advocating the advantages of an intensified cooperation with the Tribunal.
He also welcomed the recent work of the Police Restructuring Commission and encouraged the authorities to take advantage of the conclusions of the Commission’s report and of the High Representative concerning State competencies and territorial structures for Bosnia and Herzegovina’s new police service. A modern and effective police force that was financially stable and well equipped was an essential element in the fight against organized crime. To assist in reaching that goal, the European Union Police Mission had provided advice in the introduction of new border control related legislation underpinning the new State Investigation and Protection Agency. At the local level, the Union Police Mission was assisting in capacity building to help local police achieve financial viability and sustainability.
Response by High Representative
Mr. ASHDOWN, referring to Minister Colak’s comment about refugees, said that issue was now out of the international community’s hands and in the hands of the Bosnia and Herzegovina authorities. It was a miracle that 1 million refugees had returned home. There were more who were still to return, including the 10,000 Croats who had not returned to Banja Luka. The Council would not have a clear picture of the situation if they did not recognize that there were also 35,000 Serbs in Banja Luka who had been driven from their homes by Operation Storm. That must also be taken into account.
Responding to a comment by the representative of Denmark on the erosion of the Bonn powers, he said that when the Stabilization and Association Agreement was in place, it would no longer be possible to use those powers across the territory and they would be reduced. The representative of the Russian Federation had called for a decline in those powers. They would decline and were declining, as could be seen in their decreasing use by the High Representative over the recent past. It was hoped that he would not have to use them again.
Expressing his gratitude to the representative of Japan, he said that his country had provided unwavering support, despite being the most distant geographically. He was also grateful to the representative of France for his comments on the pressure exerted regarding International Tribunal issues which had delivered dividends. It was important to keep the option of sanctions in reserve until the process was completed. The process would not end until Karadzic and Mladic were in The Hague and the international community could not, and would not, be bought off.
In response to Minister Colak’s remarks on the issue of judges, he said that those comments could not but undermine trust in the independence of the judiciary. The judiciary in Bosnia and Herzegovina was a stand-alone, independent institution and it was painful that the Minister had brought his criticisms to the Security Council without having brought them up within his own Government. The judges were there at the request of the Bosnia and Herzegovina Government, of which he was a part. At the same time that the Minister was criticizing the State Court, his own friend was now indicted before it on charges of high-level corruption, bribery and organized crime. It was up to the Council members to judge the Minister’s comments, but they would have a prominent place in tomorrow’s press and damage the Government’s reputation, besides being unhelpful to the principles that the Minister had himself professed to espouse.
Taking the floor a second time, Mr. COLAK, Minister for Security of Bosnia and Herzegovina, said he agreed that two important obligations lay ahead -- full cooperation with the International Tribunal and restructuring the police. They had to be done in full and were vital to approaching European and Euro-Atlantic integration. When he mentioned the problem of the process of return, which was not yet finalized, he did not say that 10,000 Croats had not returned, but said that those 10,000 had left that area [Banja Luka] in the past five years. He believed that elsewhere there were similar problems, but he had underlined that as the most glaring example.
His goal was that his homeland would have established rule of law and European standards, and was convinced that that would be the case. His goal and the goal of the High Representative were the independence of the judiciary, as well as the rule of law. He was convinced that Bosnia and Herzegovina would sometime soon accomplish that goal
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*The 5146th meeting was closed.