BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA AT THRESHOLD OF PROMISING FUTURE, MUST NOW TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR REFORM, DEVELOPMENT, SECURITY COUNCIL TOLD
BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA AT THRESHOLD OF PROMISING FUTURE, MUST NOW TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR REFORM, DEVELOPMENT, SECURITY COUNCIL TOLD
|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
5412th Meeting (AM)
BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA AT THRESHOLD OF PROMISING FUTURE, MUST NOW TAKE
RESPONSIBILITY FOR REFORM, DEVELOPMENT, SECURITY COUNCIL TOLD
High Representative Says Main Priorities Constitutional Reform,
October Elections, Association Agreement Negotiations with European Union
With post-war reconstruction coming to an end, Bosnia and Herzegovina stood at the threshold of a promising future and had the opportunity to be a fully independent sovereign State, the top United Nations envoy to that country told the Security Council this morning.
Addressing the Council at what he called “a crucial time” for Bosnia and Herzegovina, High Representative Christian Schwartz-Schilling said that the country must now take on the responsibility for its own political reforms and economic development. It was also now in a position to signal to Europe, and to the world, that it was ready to become a full partner in Euro-Atlantic structures.
At the same time, Mr. Schwartz-Schilling emphasized that the present phase was probably the most challenging. The international community had set out the principles of democracy and the rule of law, and put in place the foundations of a functioning State -- now it was time to hand over the reigns to the people of Bosnia and Herzegovina and their elected representatives.
He looked forward to the support of the Council in completing a successful transition, which, depending on a number of factors, could take place in the first or second quarter of 2007, he said. The main priorities in Bosnia and Herzegovina included constitutional reform, the general elections in October and the ongoing Stabilization and Association Agreement negotiations with the European Union. Stable economic development was the prerequisite for a stable democratic process and a sustainable future.
While agreeing with that assessment, many speakers in the ensuing discussion stressed the need to ensure Bosnia and Herzegovina’s full cooperation with the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia. In particular, they attached great importance to delivering the remaining fugitives to The Hague.
Welcoming the progress achieved, Argentina’s representative said the failure to arrest Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic not only impeded Bosnia and Herzegovina’s joining the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s (NATO) Partnership for Peace, but also postponed the healing of past wounds. Only through joint efforts against impunity for serious human rights violations would the development of judicial institutions be fostered and the rule of law strengthened.
Speaking on behalf of the European Union, the representative of Austria welcomed the progress on the negotiations for a Stabilisation and Association Agreement, which would establish a comprehensive formal and contractual relationship between the Union and Bosnia and Herzegovina. The pace of the talks would depend, in particular, on the country’s progress in developing its legislative framework and administrative capacity, in implementing police reform, and in adopting and implementing all necessary public broadcasting legislation, as well as achieving full cooperation with the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia.
The United States representative said that modernizing the Dayton constitution was essential to creating a Government that could meet the needs of the country’s citizens and for meeting the criteria for integration with Euro-Atlantic institutions. The United States strongly supported the constitutional reforms negotiated by the country’s political parties, currently under consideration by the Parliament. He also welcomed the High Representative’s efforts to transfer greater responsibilities to Bosnian Government institutions, with an eye towards transitioning the Office of the High Representative to a European Union Special Representative’s office in 2007. While allowing Bosnians to take ownership, the High Representative should continue advancing reform and complete civilian implementation of the Dayton Accords.
The representative of the Russian Federation recalled that the Dayton Agreement contained the important goals of strengthening the climate of trust and constructive cooperation among the peoples of Bosnia, and achieving consensus among all Bosnian parties in building stable statehood. Attention should be given to such questions as real equality among the peoples on the whole territory of the country, local self-governing institutions, as well as the return of refugees and displaced persons.
Turkey’s representative also attached great importance to the coexistence and harmony of different cultures, religions and ethnic identities. The desire and success of the three peoples that had founded the State of Bosnia Herzegovina to live together in a multi-ethnic and multicultural society would not only contribute to national and regional stability, but would also set a shining example for the countries and communities facing similar experiences, he said.
In that connection, Greece’s representative noted that, if Bosnia and Herzegovina was to embrace its new future, it would have to overcome the past and form a new generation of shared identity. The new Bosnia and Herzegovina could not have an educational system divided along ethnic lines.
Also addressing the Council today was Chairman of the Council of Ministers of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Adnan Terzić, who said the country was making a successful example of building peace, in which the international community was also playing a significant role.
He also called on the Council to look, as soon as possible, into the problem of decertification of 598 former policemen by the International Police Task Force (IPTF), under the umbrella of the United Nations Mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina (UNMIBH). Those people had been banned from law enforcement for life, although they had neither had a chance to see the documentation behind it, nor been given reasons for it. Moreover, access to complaint procedures had been withheld from 150 people, because the decision on their decertification had been taken on the last day of the IPTF mandate. His country’s Permanent Representative had sent an official letter requesting consideration of possible options, by which the right of appeal could be secured and the decisions on decertification revised, where appropriate.
Also participating in the debate were representatives of the United Kingdom, France, Slovakia, Denmark, Peru, United Republic of Tanzania, Qatar and China.
The meeting was called to order to 10:10 a.m. and adjourned at 11:50 a.m.
The Security Council met this morning to consider the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina
Briefing by High Representative
The High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina, CHRISTIAN SCHWARTZ-SCHILLING, said that he was addressing the Council at a crucial time in the development of Bosnia and Herzegovina; the phase of post-war reconstruction was coming to an end. It was his job to complete it and to facilitate progress towards Euro-Atlantic structures. That phase would see the country progress from a framework set in Dayton towards a structure established and owned in Sarajevo, ready for closer integration with Brussels. One of his key tasks was to oversee the end of the Office of the High Representative and the full establishment of the European Union Special Representative office. The end of the Office of the High Representative would also mean an end of the special executive powers -- the so-called Bonn powers. He looked forward to the support of the Council in completing a successful transition, which, he hoped, would take place in the first or second quarter of 2007. However, that would depend on a number of factors.
To achieve a successful transition, an important principle of ownership was at stake, he continued. That referred to the need for Bosnia and Herzegovina to assume its full responsibilities as a “normal” European democratic State. But, the principle of ownership also referred to the approach of the international community; its approach must change, in order to allow a democratic political culture to develop that would be sustainable in the long-term. Asking the Council for its support in that new approach, he said that it was easier said than done.
Indeed, there would be temptations for the international community to act and intervene, in order to ensure short-term gains. Those temptations were likely to increase rather than decrease towards the completion of the present phase. But, it was at this very stage that such reaction and interventions could no longer be compatible with the long-term development of an independent and sovereign Bosnia and Herzegovina.
“We have talked about ownership for some time,” he said. “Now we must be ready to uphold this principle in our actions, as well as in our words. This may mean we have to stand back and allow the Bosnian authorities to take decisions, when, previously, we would have acted and directed the process.”
This year, three priorities for Bosnia and Herzegovina included constitutional reform, the general elections in October and the ongoing Stabilization and Association Agreement negotiations with the European Union, he said. After months of negotiations, the Bosnian political leaders had reached agreement on a package of measures that would reform the constitution. It was now up to the Parliament to take the responsible decision to pass those reforms in the coming week. While an important step towards making Bosnia and Herzegovina a more functional State, it was only a first step. Constitutional reform was a process, not an event. Discussions on further reform would commence after the October elections. The decision by Bosnian parliamentarians to pass the package would send an important signal to the international community, especially to Europe, about the country’s readiness to reform itself on the path to Europe and to serve its citizens better. A “no” to constitutional reform would send an entirely different signal.
In the October elections, the Bosnian people would, for the first time, vote for leaders who would have full responsibility for governing their own country, he said. In the future, there would be no safety net from the international community to step in where there were problems. The Bosnian authorities had made a very clear positive start to negotiating a Stabilization and Association Agreement with the European Union-- that was a positive signal to Europe. Now, there were two important topics on which he intended to engage with renewed focus -- the economy and education. Stable economic development was the prerequisite for a stable democratic process and a sustainable future, he said. He saw great economic potential in Bosnia and Herzegovina, with annual economic growth of over 5 per cent and scope for significant development in key industries. However, trade and investment were vital to allow Bosnia to stand on her own two feet economically.
It was necessary to create favourable conditions for the economy to prosper, he added. The international community could not encourage economic development, on the one hand, and impose restrictive visa regimes, on the other. He was, therefore, lobbying the European Unionmember States on the question of visa facilitation for Bosnia and Herzegovina citizens. Regarding education, he said that the lasting division of the Bosnian education system along ethnic lines had to end. The lack of responsible ownership in the relevant domestic structures must change.
Among the outstanding issues from the post-war period, he mentioned the fact that the Bosnia and Herzegovina authorities had not yet resolved the issue of full cooperation with the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, to ensure that the remaining fugitives, chiefly Ratko Mladic and Radovan Karadzic were delivered to The Hague. Bosnia and Herzegovina’s advancement towards Partnership for Peace and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) structures required concrete results. The international community must take a firm stance. Until the remaining Tribunal issues had been resolved, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and others in the region, would not be able to take the final steps towards Euro-Atlantic integration.
On another issue, he said that he had already taken steps this month to solve the status of officials removed by the High Representative from public positions. Removals played an important role in Bosnia’s post-war recovery, but there were compelling reasons why those bans should now be lifted. That would not apply to those removed for non-cooperation with the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia -- an obligation that Bosnia and Herzegovina had not yet met in full. He had developed a parallel system to lift all bans gradually and to make reviews on an individual basis.
There was one final issue that needed the Council’s support to be resolved. That related to a legal anomaly that dated back to the United Nations International Police Task Force (IPTF) mission and concerned police officers decertified by the Task Force, without the possibility of review or appeal. The European Union Police Mission, the successor for the IPTF, had not assumed certification responsibilities. That situation could not be redressed without the support of the United Nations. He shared and fully supported the approach of the Bosnian Government on that issue, and he had received full backing of the European Union to pursue a solution. The situation could be resolved constructively to the benefit of Bosnia and Herzegovina and to the credit of the Council. The Office of the High Representative and the European Union stood ready to work with the United Nations to initiate such a review, which could address the issue in a proper manner. He was willing to send an expert to New York, alongside representatives of the European Unionpresidency and Council secretariat, to facilitate setting up such a review.
Today, Bosnia and Herzegovina stood at the threshold of a promising future, he concluded. It had the opportunity to be a fully independent sovereign State. The country must take on the responsibility for its own political reforms and economic development. It was now in a position to signal to Europe and to the world that it was ready to become a full partner in Euro-Atlantic structures, but one should be aware that the present phase was probably the most challenging for both Bosnia and Herzegovina and the international community. The international community had clearly set out the principles of democracy and the rule of law, and put in place the foundations of a functioning State -- now it was time to hand over the reigns to the people of Bosnia and Herzegovina and their elected representatives.
Statement by Chairman of Council of Ministers
ADNAN TERZIĆ, Chairman of the Council of Ministers of Bosnia and Herzegovina, said the country was making a successful example of building peace, in which the international community was also playing a significant role. The key reasons behind its success was the single voice of the international community and the leadership of the local people on the reforms and changes needed to create a society with better opportunities for all.
He said that the International Police Task Force (IPTF), under the umbrella of the United Nations Mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina (UNMIBH), had been charged with certification of the police forces, during which process decisions had been made to decertify 598 former policemen. The direct consequence of those decisions was that those people had been banned from law enforcement for life, although they had neither had a chance to see the documentation behind it, nor been given reasons for it. Moreover, access to complaint procedures had been withheld from 150 people because the decision on their decertification had been done on the last day of the IPTF mandate.
In the meantime, pressure was increasing, not only from the decertified policemen, but also from the general public, due to a conviction that the situation was a clear violation of basic human rights, he said. The dissatisfaction had been even greater since the people affected had undergone checks by the United Nations, which was dedicated to the protection and promotion of human rights all over the world.
He said that, on the basis of Security Council presidential statement of 25 June 2004, the Council of Ministers was of the opinion that the Council was the only forum where a mutually satisfactory solution could be found. With that in mind, the Permanent Representative of Bosnia and Herzegovina to the United Nations had sent an official letter requesting consideration of the possible options, by which the right of appeal could be secured and the decisions on decertification revised, where revision was appropriate. Bosnia and Herzegovina called on the Council to look into the problem as soon as possible, and reach a decision that would preserve the fundamental values of the United Nations Charter.
PAUL JOHNSTON ( United Kingdom) said that his country associated itself with the position of the European Union, but he wanted to make some points on the priorities ahead. He welcomed the recent agreement on constitutional reform -- an important first step towards a functional State, enabling the country to look forward. He urged the Parliament to ratify the amendments quickly. It was important to make the Government more responsible, but it was also necessary to give full priority to full cooperation with the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia. The United Kingdom urged Bosnia and Herzegovina to implement other changes and reforms needed to align with the European Union. It was now up to the Bosnians to demonstrate their commitment to integration. Among other important issues, he mentioned the restructuring of the police force, which must not be left to just before the September deadline. On the issue of decertified police, it was necessary to explore all the options with all relevant parties.
In conclusion, he said that the Government of Bosnia and Herzegovina would need commitment and determination to meet all the challenges before it, but it also needed support.
ADAMANTIOS TH. VASSILAKIS ( Greece) said a number of developments had occurred since the Council last discussed Bosnia and Herzegovina, which more or less framed the future course of events, namely the launch of negotiations for a Stabilization Association Agreement and the agreement on constitutional reform. The High Representative was right to highlight that Bosnia and Herzegovina had entered a critical phase. His new approach was well suited to the new times and the new circumstances. Ownership of the process by the authorities of Bosnia and Herzegovina, together with the international community’s sustained assistance, was key to success.
The year 2006 would see the completion of the next phase of Bosnia’s transition, he said. He hoped the necessary legislative action would be taken to implement the constitutional amendments in time for the October elections, and that the process would continue until all outstanding issues were resolved. Bosnian parliamentarians would have to assume responsibility for taking that process forward. The next milestone in the country’s history would be the holding of elections next October, which would, hopefully, signal the beginning of a new Bosnian State. Greece welcomed the High Representative’s intention to place prosperity and education at the core of his work. If Bosnia and Herzegovina was to embrace its new future, it would have to overcome the past and form a new generation of shared identity. The new Bosnia and Herzegovina could not have an educational system divided along ethnic lines.
A clean break with the past required, above all, the completion of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia chapter, he said. That could only be achieved by the transfer of the remaining fugitives to The Hague, in particular Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic. The international community would remain firm on that issue. Greece welcomed the High Representative’s decision to resolve the issue of the status of officials removed from public positions. On the issue of decertified police officers, a constructive solution must be found. In that framework, he stood ready to support any real and pragmatic solution that would resolve the issue once and for all.
JEAN-MARC DE LA SABLIÈRE (France), supporting the statement to be made on behalf of the European Union, said 2006 was an important year for Bosnia and Herzegovina, owing to the general elections to be held in October, the negotiations on stabilization and association with the European Union, and institutional reforms. The High Representative’s priorities were also those of France, which welcomed the fact that he had also made economic reform one of his priorities.
Underlining his country’s support for the High Representative’s role as coordinator of international action in Bosnia and Herzegovina, he said that aspect was essential in maintaining a coherent and harmonious approach. France supported the role played by the High Representative and looked forward to his proposals to be made in June regarding the progressive replacement of the Office of High Representative by that of a European Union Special Representative.
Turning to the negotiations on stabilization and association with the European Union, he said his country was pleased that they were going well and that the Bosnian authorities had prepared well for them. France encouraged them to pursue further progress in that regard, so that the negotiations did not to lose momentum. Regarding the need for full cooperation with the International Criminal Tribunal, the October elections should not lead to any relaxation in that regard.
He said his country was pleased with the agreement reached by the seven main political parties in Bosnia and Herzegovina on constitutional reform, which would contribute to the strengthening of the State and better governance. France welcomed the role played by the United States in that outcome. It was essential that the constitutional amendments be adopted in the time required for their implementation before the October elections.
PETER BURIAN (Slovakia), aligning himself with the statement to be made on behalf of he European Union, said that European integration remained one of the decisive factors for stabilization and peacebuilding in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the western Balkans as a whole. For that reason, Slovakia supported the continued integration process ensuring the future of Bosnia and Herzegovina and other western Balkan countries in the European Union.
At the same time, Slovakia understood why there were many challenges to overcome on the way to the European Union and lasting stability, he said. First, Bosnia and Herzegovina needed stronger State institutions, including judiciary and law-enforcement structures that were compatible with European standards. The current Government system was unsustainable and required constitutional reforms. Political leaders should overcome their remaining disagreements, put aside their narrow political and ethnic interests, reach agreement on the reform package currently under discussion in the Parliament, and adopt it expeditiously.
Second, it was high time to change the form of the international community’s engagement, he said. The democratically elected leaders and institutions of Bosnia and Herzegovina must gradually assume full ownership and responsibility for the transformation process, with the continued support of the international community, especially the European Union. Third, special attention must be paid to security sector reform, including police reform, aimed at creating a single professional police force, based on technical, rather than political, criteria. In that context, all decertified policemen should be guaranteed due process, including the right to appeal. Urgent United Nations action was required, in that regard, to solve that problem as soon as possible, bearing in mind the political sensitivity of the issue and the credibility of the new State institutions.
He asked the High Representative to comment on possible ways to address those problems and the possible implications for police reform and the transformation process, including the forthcoming elections.
JOHN BOLTON ( United States) expressed appreciation for the High Representative’s support for constitutional reform in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Modernizing the Dayton constitution was essential to creating a Government that could meet the needs of the country’s citizens and for the country to meet the criteria for integration with Euro-Atlantic institutions. The United States strongly supported the package of constitutional reforms negotiated by the country’s political parties, currently under consideration by the Parliament. He called on the Parliament to enact those changes, so that they could take effect in time for the October elections.
The United States welcomed the beginning of the Stabilization and Association Agreement talks with the European Union earlier this year, and was committed to supporting the efforts of the European Union and Bosnia and Herzegovina to reach the goal of signing a Stabilization and Association Agreement by the end of the year. He called on the Bosnia and Herzegovina authorities to fully cooperate with the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, the last remaining obstacle to the country’s meeting NATO’s condition for participation in the Partnership for Peace.
He also welcomed the High Representative’s efforts to transfer greater responsibilities to Bosnian Government institutions, with an eye towards transitioning the Office of the High Representative to a European Union Special Representative’s office in 2007. He urged the Office of the High Representative to accelerate the transfer of authority to Bosnians in advance of October elections, as circumstances permitted. While allowing Bosnians to take ownership, the Office of the High Representative should continue to take steps to advance reform and complete civilian implementation of the Dayton Accords, including clarifications and corrections to previous decisions taken by the High Representative. He also understood the interest in resolving issues related to the decertified police officers, and was committed to working with other Council members to address that issue.
LARS FAABORG-ANDERSEN ( Denmark) said that notable advances had been achieved on the ground in Bosnia and Herzegovina. He associated himself with the statement to be delivered on behalf of the European Union, but wanted to make several points. He was particularly encouraged by the recent agreement on constitutional reform, which would play a role in improving the State’s functionality and have an important impact on the path towards Euro-Atlantic integration. He urged the Parliament to adopt the amendments.
Closer relations with the European Union required further reform by its partners in Sarajevo, he continued. The pace of integration would depend on the implementation of the police reform, adoption of legislation and full cooperation on the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia. Bosnia and Herzegovina needed to take decisive action and bring the persons indicted for war crimes to justice. Only then would it be possible to overcome the remaining legacy of war. He supported the intention of the High Representative to restrict the Bonn powers, allowing local authorities greater ownership.
He also supported the gradual downsizing of the Office of the High Representative, but the job was not finished, and challenges remained ahead. As for the ongoing dialogue on the decertified police officers, at this point it was important not to exclude any options. Denmark was ready to assist, as much as it could, on the way towards democracy. He sensed the strong commitment of the Government and people of Bosnia and Herzegovina to take charge of the path ahead of them.
CESAR MAYORAL ( Argentina) said he was pleased that Bosnia and Herzegovina was on its way towards Euro-Atlantic integration, and that it had fulfilled the conditions to advance towards the stage of an autonomous national State, actively integrated into Europe. He took note, among other things, of the renewed discussions on constitutional reform and the commitment reached by the eight strongest political parties to support the process and agree on constitutional changes. Such actions demonstrated the responsibility taken by the national authorities to moving the process forward.
It was imperative, however, to achieve the same progress in the fight against impunity, he added. The failure to arrest Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic not only impeded Bosnia and Herzegovina’s joining the NATO Partnership for Peace, but also postponed the healing of past wounds. Argentina urged the fulfilment of the Dayton Agreements and the effective application of its commitments, in particular, cooperation with the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia. Only through joint efforts against impunity for serious human rights violations would the development of judicial institutions be fostered and the rule of law strengthened. He urged the parties to commit their best efforts, in order to set the foundation for a truly sustainable society.
OSWALDO DE RIVERO ( Peru) said his country followed with optimism the efforts that the main political forces had made to implement constitutional reform. There had been positive agreement on police restructuring, which was fundamental for the consolidation of democracy in Bosnia and Herzegovina and for its future in an integrated Europe. Peru expected that it would be completed in accordance with the timetable established, in order to carry out the implementation plan by September.
He said that, while recent developments showed that Bosnia and Herzegovina continued on the path of progress achieved since the signing of the peace agreements, many challenges lay ahead. One critical aspect for the country’s stability and peace was the consideration of judicial institutions. A central part of the conclusion strategy for the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia was the transfer of certain defendants to competent national jurisdictions. The Court had recently confirmed the transfer of four new defendants.
On the other hand, the full contribution of the authorities was still pending, he said. There had been significant improvement in the cooperation with the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia in the period since the last report of the Special Envoy, and today only 4 fugitives remained out of the 18 linked to Bosnia and Herzegovina. However, it was a matter of concern that others, suspected of the most serious violations of international humanitarian law, remained at large, particularly Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic.
Mr. SHCHERBAK ( Russian Federation) expressed gratitude to the High Representative for his briefing on the latest developments and his efforts to promote the peace process. When elaborating details of future reforms and in advancing them, it was necessary to take into account the interests of all Bosnian parties. In the near future, it would be necessary to address such key issues as the fate of the constitution -- an important element of the Dayton Agreement that needed to be resolved. He welcomed the progress achieved, and added that it was Bosnians themselves who needed to play the main part in that regard.
Speaking about the foundation of the peace process, he emphasized continued pertinence of the very philosophy of the Dayton Agreement, which contained important goals of strengthening the climate of trust and constructive cooperation among the peoples of Bosnia, as well as achieving consensus among all Bosnian parties in building stable statehood. Still, attention should be given to such questions as real equality among the peoples on the whole territory of the country, local self-governing institutions, as well as the return of refugees and displaced persons.
He noted with satisfaction the progress in the efforts to strengthen Bosnian institutions and supported the transfer of responsibilities for the fate of the country to the Bosnians, as well as further progress in economic reforms. In that regard, it was important that the High Representative continue to work in close partnership with Bosnian authorities, supporting their independent consensus decisions on the basis of constructive dialogue. Political and diplomatic mechanisms should also be engaged in the work with Bosnian parties on their further cooperation with the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia. His delegation was prepared to engage in a constructive review of the question of the decertification of the police, which needed to be based on the decisions of the Council and the provisions of the Charter. The Council needed to send a clear signal that attempts to undermine the activities of the international presence in Bosnia and Herzegovina would not be permitted.
AUGUSTINE MAHIGA (United Republic of Tanzania) said his delegation had been encouraged by the decision to replace the multinational stabilization force in Bosnia and Herzegovina with a new international entity, and urged renewed efforts to resolve outstanding issues, including the question regarding decertified policemen.
He expressed the hope that Bosnia and Herzegovina would stay on course for the stabilization and association negotiations on integration with the European Union and Euro-Atlantic institutions. He also hoped that Bosnia and Herzegovina would continue, and intensify, its efforts to apprehend Ratko Mladic and Radovan Karadzic and hand them over to the International Tribunal.
Mr. AL-QAHTANI ( Qatar) said that Bosnia and Herzegovina, the wounded country, had left behind the scourge of war a decade ago. Positive developments had taken place recently, including the transfer of responsibilities for defence to the State, reforms, restructuring of the police, steps to ensure the rule of law, and measures to combat crime and corruption. It was encouraging to see the preliminary agreement on the constitutional reform. However, it was necessary to continue the implementation of the framework peace agreement, as well as relevant resolutions. Bosnia and Herzegovina must cooperate with the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia to apprehend the indictees. It was also necessary to take into account the unresolved question of borders, as well as the impact of the situation in Kosovo and the relations with Serbia and Montenegro.
Turning to the question of decertified police, he added that, with no way to appeal the decision, the situation of the officers had become extremely difficult. One way of resolving the issue was to establish a new mechanism to review the situation.
Council President WANG GUANGYA (China), speaking in his national capacity, said that Bosnia and Herzegovina had made positive efforts in economic restructuring, reforming the judicial institutions, and promoting ethnic integration, among other areas, in which clear results had been achieved. The country had also begun the process of joining the European Union. China acknowledged those achievements.
All parties in Bosnia and Herzegovina should doubly cherish the progress that their country had made, and further strengthen their unity and common development efforts. Together with the international community, China wished to assist Bosnia and Herzegovina and make its own contribution to the country’s political development and long-term stability.
GERHARD PFANZELTER (Austria), speaking on behalf of the European Union, recalled that, at the European Union/Western Balkans Foreign Ministers meeting on 11 March, the participants had reaffirmed their full support for the agenda set out in the Thessaloniki summit in 2003, as well as for the stabilisation And Association process, which would remain the framework for the European course of the western Balkans. They had confirmed that the future of the region lay in the European Union. In practical terms, the Union supported that course, through its various instruments of financial and technical assistance by the European Commission, the Common Foreign Security and Defence Policies, as well as via traditional bilateral support of the 25 member countries. In Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Union had strongly supported, among others, the justice, security and defence sectors.
In that respect, he said, the Union’s military mission, working in close cooperation with NATO, had assumed the main peace stabilization role under the Dayton Peace Agreement. That had proven to be an important factor in maintaining security and stability on the ground, and the liaison and observation teams had become a valuable element in the confidence-building process. Similarly, the European Union Police Mission had provided useful advice and support to Bosnia and Herzegovina’s own efforts in bringing its police structures fully in line with European standards. The international community’s continued support was needed to implement police restructuring as a key reform issue, and a requirement for further integration. In terms of financial support, since 2000, the Union had allocated more than €500 million to the country, under the Community Assistance for Reconstruction, Development and Stabilization (CARDS) assistance programme.
The Union welcomed the political agreement reached on 18 March on constitutional reform, he went on. That agreement was a significant step towards making the country’s State institutions more functional and efficient. He urged Bosnia and Herzegovina to ensure that the necessary legislative steps were taken to implement the constitutional amendments in time for the October elections. The process of constitutional reform must continue after the elections to solve outstanding issues and to make the country a fully fiscally self-sustainable and efficient State that served its citizens.
He said that the European Union also welcomed the progress made on the negotiations for a Stabilisation and Association Agreement since the opening of talks in November 2005. He encouraged swift progress, saying that the conclusion of those negotiations would establish a comprehensive, formal and contractual relationship between the Union and Bosnia and Herzegovina. The pace and conclusion of the talks would depend, in particular, on the country’s progress in developing its legislative framework and administrative capacity, in implementing police reform in compliance with the Agreement on Police Restructuring of October 2005, and in adopting and implementing all necessary public broadcasting legislation, as well as achieving full cooperation with the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia.
BAKI İLKIN (Turkey) aligned himself with the statement made on behalf of the European Union and said that his country had close historical, cultural and human bonds with Bosnia and Herzegovina. Turkey had been actively involved in the efforts to defuse the crisis, and had been contributing to the efforts to establish peace, stability and prosperity in the country. Turkey contributed to both the European Union Force and the Police Mission operating in the region.
He welcomed the considerable progress achieved in the past years, with regard to reforms in the field of taxation, customs, intelligence, security, defence and the judiciary. Turkey would continue to support those reforms aiming at ensuring an efficient State structure in Bosnia and Herzegovina that would eventually bring the country closer to the Euro-Atlantic institutions.
He added that Turkey attached great importance to the co-existence and harmony of different cultures, religions and ethnic identities. The desire and success of the three peoples that had founded the State of Bosnia Herzegovina to live together in a multi-ethnic and multicultural society would not only contribute to national and regional stability, but would also set a shining example for the countries and communities facing similar experiences.
Response by High Representative
Mr. SCHWARTZ-SCHILLING said there was broad consensus about the country’s goals and priorities, but there were also questions about how to settle the question of decertified policemen. The matter concerned part of the international community’s phasing out plan, and the Government was under tremendous pressure to act decisively.
There had been discussion in the Security Council drafting group and the European Union Political and Security Council, which had expressed a willingness to assist the United Nations, if the Organization was willing. The certification had been a positive process, since many policemen had been compromised by involvement in crimes during the war. A review mechanism would consolidate the certification process by overturning decisions that raised questions about the process as a whole.
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