Divisive Rhetoric Threatens Sovereignty, Integrity of Bosnia and Herzegovina, High Representative Says in Briefing to Security Council
Divisive Rhetoric Threatens Sovereignty, Integrity of Bosnia and Herzegovina, High Representative Says in Briefing to Security Council
|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
6130th Meeting* (AM)
DIVISIVE RHETORIC THREATENS SOVEREIGNTY, INTEGRITY OF BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA,
HIGH REPRESENTATIVE SAYS IN BRIEFING TO SECURITY COUNCIL
Concerned about Slow Pace of Transition,
Members Urge United Approach by Federation’s Constituent Nations
Bosnia and Herzegovina continued to make progress toward “a peaceful, viable State, irreversibly on course for our European integration”, but was hampered in that effort by divisive partisan rhetoric, Valentin Inzko, High Representative for the Balkan country told the Security Council today.
In a briefing that covered the past six months, the first since he took office two months ago, the High Representative said the country remained stable and secure, but the State was not yet fully viable and its sovereignty, constitutional order and territorial integrity were under challenge by leaders of the Republika Srpska, who, in a series of attacks on State powers, had referred to the possibility of unilateral self-determination.
“I take this seriously and I take people at their word,” he said. “My basic role as High Representative is to uphold the Peace Agreement, at the centre of which is the sovereignty of the State and competencies of its institutions. I will not let these be challenged.” To get the parties into a more constructive relationship and accelerate the country’s transition towards Euro-Atlantic integration, the Office of High Representative was supporting the so-called Prud Process of dialogue among leaders. Achievements shepherded by that Process included the 26 March passage of the first-ever amendment to the 1995 Dayton Constitution, defining the status of the Brcko District, as well as the agreement among the State entities and the Brcko District on the budget framework for 2009 and the National War Crimes Strategy.
There now remained a small window of opportunity to start work on minimal reforms before the 2010 elections got into gear, he pointed out. Priorities included an agreement on apportioning State property and defence property between the State and its entities. Enhanced support by the European Union and the wider international community was essential in that context. The vast majority of citizens continued to support Euro-Atlantic integration and needed, in particular, the support of the Security Council in that effort. “I am on the side of the majority and I believe the majority will prevail.”
Nikola Špirić, Chairman of the Council of Ministries of Bosnia and Herzegovina, said it was clear that everyone in the country could and should have done more to meet the requirements of the European Union and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) at a faster pace. The Council of Ministers had been working towards those goals in its 19 sessions since December, which had resulted in legislative progress in a number of areas, including trade and the crucial issue of liberalization of the visa regime for Bosnian citizens.
He said it was now time for the international community to end any support for “peremptory powers” in the country and to bolster State authority, as well as the integrity of the Dayton Accords. Bosnia and Herzegovina remained fully committed to cooperation with International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia and had identified and adopted a revised strategy for the return of refugees and displaced persons. Its coordinated approach to the global economic crisis had resulted in successful negotiations with the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
Constitutional reform must be faced in 2009, he said, emphasizing that it required civilized dialogue and compromise, based on the Dayton Accords. The assistance of international institutions in the form of good advice was “certainly more than welcomed”, but pressure or dictates from Washington, D.C., or Brussels would be counterproductive. The country had enjoyed more success than indicated in the High Representative’s report, in addition to an optimism that would bring about further success.
In the ensuing discussion, most Council members expressed support for the High Representative’s assessment and voiced disappointment with the slow pace of progress towards fulfilling the objectives set out for Bosnia and Herzegovina. They urged all parties in the country to work together constructively towards that end, with many also stressing the importance of cooperation with the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia and of greater efforts to resettle displaced persons.
The representative of the Russian Federation, however, said he could not agree with the High Representative’s negative depiction of the ability of authorities in Bosnia and Herzegovina to resolve problems on their own. Dialogue among the parties had led to the passing of a budget at “record speed”, and approval of a constitutional amendment to the Dayton Accords. Too much attention was being paid to harsh rhetoric and too much blame placed on the Prime Minister of the Republika Srpska, whereas no real actions had been taken in contravention of Dayton. The Office of the High Representative appeared to be “operating by inertia” in failing to take into account the significant progress under way. Hopefully that Office would carry out its future duties in a more objective manner.
Serbia’s representative said that, as a neighbour and guarantor of the Dayton Accords, one of his country’s foreign policy priorities was developing good neighbourly relations and a strong commitment to regional stability, stressing also that the international community should conduct relations among the three constituent nations of Bosnia and Herzegovina “with due attention and mutual respect”. Any reform should be carried out in such a way as to contribute to the country’s integration into the European Union. Serbia welcomed all decisions and solutions resulting from democratic agreements among the three constituent nations -- Serbs, Bosniaks and Croats.
Croatia’s representative echoed that sentiment, emphasizing that actions to deter further progress under the Dayton Accords could only be overcome through a comprehensive dialogue among all the people of the country’s three constituent parts. That would open the way to European Union membership and to the fulfilment of other international obligations. Challenges to Bosnia and Herzegovina’s territorial integrity could only undermine the progress achieved thus far, and overcoming them depended on respect for the equal rights of all three constituents. The particular situation of Croats as the smallest and most vulnerable group in the country must be borne in mind.
Also speaking today were the representatives of Costa Rica, Libya, Japan, Turkey, Austria, France, Mexico, China, Viet Nam, Burkina Faso, United States, United Kingdom, Uganda and the Czech Republic (on behalf of the European Union).
The meeting began at 10:10 a.m. and ended at 12:05 p.m.
The Security Council had before it a letter from the Secretary-General dated 13 May 2009 and transmitting to the President of the Council the thirty-fifth report of the High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina (document S/2009/246) on implementation of the Peace Agreement, which covers the period from 1 November 2008 to 30 April 2009.
According to the report, Bosnia and Herzegovina has made limited progress on its reform agenda in the past six months. Nationalist, anti-Dayton rhetoric challenging the country’s sovereignty, territorial integrity and constitutional order has played the dominant role, despite an effort by three political leaders to open a process of dialogue and compromise. However, challenges to the authority of the High Representative and the Steering Board of the Peace Implementation Council have continued to occur. Of particular note are the ongoing attacks by the Government of the Republika Srpska against State institutions, competencies and laws.
At the same time, the report says, some progress has been made towards meeting the requirements set by the Steering Board for the transition from the Office of the High Representative to the European Union Special Representative, most notably the adoption of a constitutional amendment incorporating the Brcko District into the Bosnia and Herzegovina Constitution and ensuring its access to the constitutional court. In addition, Bosnia and Herzegovina also adopted a War Crimes Strategy and endorsed the implementation action plans of the National Justice Sector Reform Strategy.
The report goes on to state that the European Union military mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina (EUFOR) continues to contribute to a safe and secure environment and is a key reassurance factor at a time when the political situation remains fragile. The Steering Board met twice during the reporting period and recognized progress made in delivering on the objectives and conditions for the transition. However, it also made clear its serious concerns about the prevailing political situation in the country, including the challenges to the country’s sovereignty, territorial integrity and constitutional order, as well as State-level institutions.
VALENTIN INZKO, High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina, said some progress had been made towards making the country “a peaceful, viable State, irreversibly on course for our European integration”. The country remained stable and secure, but the State was not yet fully viable and its role and competencies were contested by some of its political leaders. For that reason, there had only been modest progress towards Euro-Atlantic integration, which left the country more vulnerable to the financial crisis as the federation’s finances were especially dire. In those circumstances, reforms were urgently needed, and would be kept at the centre of public debate, which now downgraded practical and pressing economic issues and stressed instead “a strident and unhelpful kind of posturing”.
To that end, he said, the Office of High Representative had supported the so-called Prud Process of dialogue among leaders that had started under his predecessor. Meetings of the Prud three had made some progress earlier in the year, but had then lost momentum. The three party leaders had not met on their own again since late March, though they had been brought together several times by other world leaders. Achievements shepherded by the Process included the 26 March passage of the first-ever amendment to the 1995 Dayton Constitution, defining the status of the Brcko District, as well as the agreement among the State entities and the Brcko District on the budget framework for 2009, the National War Crimes Strategy and limited progress on the apportionment of State property.
He noted, however, that divisive rhetoric challenging the country’s sovereignty, constitutional order and territorial integrity had continued during the reporting period, principally on the part of the Republika Srpska, which had, in a series of attacks on State powers, referred to the possibility of unilateral self-determination. “I take this seriously and I take people at their word. My basic role as High Representative is to uphold the Peace Agreement, at the centre of which is the sovereignty of the State and competencies of its institutions. I will not let these be challenged.” While Bosniak and Croat politicians had generally avoided wholesale attacks on the Republika Srpska’s legitimacy of late, it should be noted that federation-based media had maintained an offensive stance towards that entity.
There now remained a small window of opportunity to start work on even minimal reforms, as 2010 was a general election year, he pointed out, pledging to help the parties engage in serious dialogue and reach agreements reflecting their European Union aspirations while also securing a two-thirds majority in Parliament. Other priorities included an agreement on apportioning State property and defence property between the State and its entities. The necessary objectives and conditions could be delivered before the Peace Implementation Council meeting in October. Enhanced involvement by the European Union and the wider international community was also essential. The vast majority of citizens continued to support Euro-Atlantic integration and needed, in particular, the support of the Security Council in that effort. “I am on the side of the majority and I believe the majority will prevail.”
NIKOLA ŠPIRIĆ, Chairman of the Council of Ministries of Bosnia and Herzegovina, said that, despite differing views of the progress achieved in the reporting period, it was clear that everyone in his country could and should have done more to meet the requirements of the European Union and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), at a faster pace. For that to happen, the political leaders must work more, expect less and view compromise as a virtue, not a weakness.
The Council of Ministers, he said, had been guided by those principles. Since December, it had held 19 sessions, one of which had been devoted to European integration and another of which had focused on NATO integration. It had discussed and adopted draft laws and decisions that were directly related to fulfilment of the European partnership requirements. Domestic authorities had also been involved in implementing the interim agreement on trade with the European Community, and the Council had focused on liberalization of the visa regime for Bosnian citizens.
He was well aware of the importance of the issue of the visa regime for Bosnian citizens, as well as the fact that the six crucial laws required for the regime liberalization had not received the necessary support in the Parliament. Therefore, he had tasked State-level ministers to convene a mini-ministerial conference to produce harmonized wording for the said laws. He expected that the new wording could be soon forwarded to Parliament and thus fulfil the remaining requirements for the visa regime liberalization.
“The White Schengen for our citizens would certainly strengthen the European idea with Bosnia-Herzegovina and bring about incentives to those forces that are unequivocally committed to those processes,” he continued. The goal of adopting the laws was to send a clear message of resolution to Brussels, which gave cause to expect that the visa regime would be liberalized, possibly by the end of the year, or early next year. As for progress towards NATO, the implementation of the International Partnership Action Programme -- the most important document for progress towards Euro-Atlantic integration -- stood at 85 per cent of the 291 activities and was corroboration the country’s high level of success. Further, the Council of Ministers was determined to fully attain the goals set by the Steering Board of the Peace Implementation Council, so that a decision could be issued in November transforming the Office of the High Representative into the Office of the European Union Special Representative.
He stressed that the State of Bosnia and Herzegovina had both the legal right and the moral obligation to protect the rights of its citizens. Therefore, he said, it was now time for the international community to end any support for what he called “peremptory powers” in the country and instead support the State in the discharge of its obligations. The agreements that constituted the Dayton Accords could not be amended or modified except by further agreement of all the relevant parties. The Security Council should support the Accords and oppose any attempts to impose a system of governance that was inconsistent with them.
He said that his country remained fully committed to cooperation with the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia and had identified and adopted a revised strategy for the return of refugees and displaced persons. The global economic crisis had also dominated the reporting period, and the set up of the Fiscal Council had led to a coordinated approach, which resulted in successful negotiations with the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Concerned over the absence of a regional dimension in addressing the challenges of the financial crisis, he said he had launched an initiative to found an investment bank for South-Eastern Europe.
This year, he said, constitutional reform had to be faced and required civilized dialogue and compromise, based on the Dayton Accords. The assistance of international institutions in the form of good advice was “certainly more than welcomed”, but pressure or dictates from Washington, D.C., or Brussels would be counterproductive. In conclusion, he stressed that there were neither exclusive culprits nor absolutely guiltless parties in Bosnia and Herzegovina. All parties must not focus on blame, but on seeking better solutions. There had been more success in the country than indicated in the High Representative’s report, and there was also an optimism that would bring about further success, he said.
JORGE URBINA ( Costa Rica) said the report and briefing included a “healthy dose of realism”. To move beyond the tragic conflict had not been easy for Bosnia and Herzegovina, and neither had it been easy to create a democratic and multi-ethnic State. At the same time, many of the country’s institutions seemed committed to ensuring stability. Above all, openness and dialogue among all constitutions must prevail in order to ensure stability.
Expressing concern about the divisive and nationalistic rhetoric aimed at derailing the political and constitutional process, he stressed that all sides should work to ensure that such attitudes did not prevail. Costa Rica was also watching carefully the Steering Board’s efforts for the transition from the Office of the High Representative to the European Union Special Representative. Deadlines should not be forced if conditions on the ground were not yet ripe.
He welcomed the adoption in March of the first constitutional changes since the Dayton Accords as a signal that the authorities intended to highlight diversity. Costa Rica also welcomed the country’s cooperation with the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia and its efforts to respect human rights and the rule of law, especially when dealing with situations of impunity. The situation of refugees and internally displaced persons needed specific attention.
ABDURRAHMAN MOHAMED SHALGHAM ( Libya) welcomed the long-awaited progress on the constitutional front and steps to move ahead with the transition. Hopefully those and other positive measures would continue so as to ensure peace and stability. Despite those achievements, however, Libya remained concerned about nationalist and extremist rhetoric, which could only undermine or delay progress in the reforms under way. Such rhetoric, as well as threats to the constitutional order, could reignite the conflict, which could then spill over into the wider Balkan region. Libya therefore called on all sides to adhere to the Dayton Accords and the relevant Security Council resolutions. While there was no doubt that some serious challenges would emerge, the only way to face them was through broad cooperation, mutual respect and adherence to the agreements reached by all constituents. That was the path to a stable, prosperous and multiethnic country.
YUKIO TAKASU ( Japan) agreed with the briefer that only limited progress had been made during the reporting period, and that the political situation remained unstable. Japan also had serious misgivings about the nationalistic political rhetoric that threatened to undermine ongoing reforms, as well as the lack of trust among the political parties. All sides must work together to ensure a viable and sustainable State. Somewhat disappointed that the political process faced such obstacles, Japan continued to support all efforts to ensure Bosnia and Herzegovina’s admission into the European Union, including the transition.
The international community must also help promote that process and advance the reforms under way, he emphasized, adding that the consolidation of peace was the cornerstone of stability for the western Balkans as a whole. For its own part, Japan had been an active member of the Steering Board and of the reconciliation initiatives being carried out in the country and the wider region, including through its support for demining efforts. The role of the High Representative would continue to be important in the near term, especially in light of the unstable political situation.
BAKI İLKIN ( Turkey) said that, as a neighbour, his country had provided troops and police to the European Union mission and saw European integration for Bosnia and Herzegovina as essential. Turkey urged the three parties to intensify their dialogue towards that end, taking into account all viewpoints on the basis of the Dayton Accords. It was unfortunate that divisive rhetoric had slowed that process. The international community needed to be convinced that all the people of Bosnia and Herzegovina had a united vision. More than 14 years after the Dayton Accords, that was not obvious, and Turkey urged leaders to work towards that goal, as well as the completion of the necessary reforms.
THOMAS MAYR-HARTING ( Austria) said his country would remain a reliable partner in Bosnia and Herzegovina’s quest for stability and European integration, and hoped the reforms necessary for that purpose would be completed. Nationalistic rhetoric would not serve that purpose. Lasting stability could only be achieved by efforts from within, and the High Representative should work within that context while making use of all his powers. Austria welcomed the progress achieved thus far and hoped that a stronger effort to find common ground would extend that progress to all remaining areas. Continued cooperation with the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia was also critical, as was addressing economic challenges and the issue of visas. As a troop contributor since EUFOR’s establishment, Austria shared the High Representative’s assessment that the operation remained vital and pledged to continue its current contribution.
JEAN-MAURICE RIPERT ( France) recalled that, over the past 14 years, Bosnia and Herzegovina, with the support of the European Union, had carried out reforms aimed at ensuring stability and prosperity. Encouraging progress had been achieved over the past few months, especially the adoption of the War Crimes Strategy and key constitutional amendments. However, the High Representative had drawn attention to some worrying trends, particularly nationalistic rhetoric aimed at undermining the reform process, and the continuing lack of trust between political constituents. France urged all political forces to work together to overcome difference, as that was the only way to ensure peace and stability for all, and to move towards integration into European-Atlantic structures.
He said it was time to open a new chapter for the country, and to that end, the constituent parts would have to implement all edicts of the Steering Board. France supported the aspirations of the people of Bosnian and Herzegovina to join the European Union, but while the course was clear, the tempo depended on the country itself. The international community should provide assistance, but it could not supplant the will of the people and their leaders. It was up to them to implement the change needed to ensure a united and stable Bosnia and Herzegovina that could join the European Union.
RANKO VILOVIĆ ( Croatia) recalled that, during the Council’s 2008 discussion of the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Croatian delegation had warned that, despite certain reforms, the overall situation in that country had “slipped below the radar” and a new focus on the part of the international community was urgently needed. Today, limited progress had been achieved and Croatia was concerned about the ongoing use of divisive and nationalistic rhetoric, despite the efforts of political leaders to counter it. Actions to deter further progress under the Dayton Accords could only be overcome through a comprehensive dialogue among all the people of the country’s three constituent parts. That would open the way to European Union membership and to the fulfillment of other international obligations.
Bosnia and Herzegovina faced serious problems, particularly challenges to its territorial integrity that could only undermine the progress achieved thus far, he said. Overcoming those challenges depended on respect for the equal rights of all three constituents. There could not be a Bosnia and Herzegovina without Croats in the country, and their particular situation as the smallest and most vulnerable group must be borne in mind. Still, all three constituent must feel that Bosnia and Herzegovina was their country and they must feel safe throughout the country. All their civic and political rights should be respected and protected, as should their right to return to their pre-war homes. Croatia had always supported Bosnia and Herzegovina’s clear European perspective and would do its utmost to ensure that it joined the European Union, which was the biggest guarantee of peace and stability for all the people of South-Eastern Europe.
CLAUDE HELLER ( Mexico) said that all leaders in Bosnia and Herzegovina must redouble their efforts to fulfil their objectives through dialogue and compromise. Recent progress showed that, while that was possible, divisive dialogue hindered such a goal. All parties must also cooperate fully with the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, as the promotion and protection of human rights was still a matter of concern. The reconstruction of housing and compensation for homes that could not be returned to their original owners would help resettle the remaining internally displaced persons and refugees.
DU XIAOCONG ( China), noting the progress achieved in Bosnia and Herzegovina, also expressed concern about the remaining destabilizing factors, calling on all parties to cooperate in good faith on the basis of the Dayton Accords and within the rule of law, in order to make further progress. China requested the High Representative to work within his mandate in encouraging the parties to strive for significant headway towards European integration. China would continue to support that mandate and the European role in helping Bosnia and Herzegovina become a viable, stable country.
BUI THE GIANG ( Viet Nam), while acknowledging the progress towards meeting the objectives and conditions set by the Steering Board to expedite the transition, expressed deep concern about the mounting divisive and nationalistic rhetoric, as well as actions and statements by key actors that challenged the High Representative’s authority and that of the Steering Board. Given the overall fragility of the political situation, the international community was preoccupied with the attempts by “certain circles” to roll back previous reforms and undermine State-level institutions.
Reiterating his country’s full support for the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Bosnia and Herzegovina, he also noted with concern the recent attempt by the government of the Republika Srpska to seek the right of secession. Such actions really cast doubt on that entity’s commitment to the rule of law and might well impede further progress towards the building of a secure and stable multi-ethnic State. In light of ongoing political tensions, it was important for the major political parties to show flexibility and willingness to make real progress on important political issues. They must also work to translate the 8 November Agreement into concrete actions, including addressing the integration of internally displaced persons and compensation for property that could not be restored to its original owners.
MICHEL KAFANDO ( Burkina Faso) commended the progress achieved but deplored extremist and nationalist attitudes that could deter further progress and undermine State institutions. Burkina Faso encouraged all political actors to work hard to protect those institutions and the country’s integrity in order to ensure that all its people enjoyed peace and stability. It was also important to promote economic integration, and to take actions that would improve the Government’s institutional capacity while enhancing governance overall.
He went on to welcome the adoption of the War Crimes Strategy and initiatives aimed at reforming the judicial sector. Those efforts should improve cooperation with the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia now and in the future, when some cases came before national courts. At the same time, the authorities should make more progress in the areas of human rights, including freedom of the press and the treatment of refugees and internally displaced persons. Integration into the European Union would hinge on improvements in those areas. Still, the international community must continue to support Bosnia and Herzegovina as it moved towards European integration.
ROSEMARY DICARLO ( United States) said her country supported Bosnia and Herzegovina’s Euro-Atlantic integration, and saw a good deal of progress. However, she also remained concerned over the “zero-sum” nationalism and divisive rhetoric that threatened to undermine the country’s advance. She said the 14 May conclusions by the Republika Srbska’s Parliament were particularly egregious. The United States would continue to support all mechanisms set up under the Dayton Accords.
She expressed hope that the requirements set by the Council would soon be met. She urged all leaders to abandon divisive politics and work across ethnic lines toward the goals that all the people of Bosnia and Herzegovina shared.
JOHN SAWERS ( United Kingdom) welcomed the progress that had been achieved, but said that, in general, progress was too slow and he remained concerned over the obstacles. Progress could easily be achieved in many areas, if there was sufficient political will. There would not be any renegotiations on the objectives and conditions to advance to the next stage. He pledged support to the High Representative in fulfilling his mandate.
He pledged his country’s assistance to Bosnia and Herzegovina, but the political culture within the country needed to change for further progress. The European Union was the focal point for the international community’s efforts in the country, he said, while affirming that the continued engagement of non-Union partners would certainly be welcomed.
RUHAKANA RUGUNDA ( Uganda) said his delegation was encouraged by the progress made towards achieving the aims of the Steering Board, the entrenchment of the rule of law and the establishment of new State-level police bodies. Uganda also commended EUFOR for its cooperation with the Bosnian authorities and with the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia.
While encouraging Bosnia and Herzegovina’s neighbours to support stability in the country as well as, ongoing reforms to ensure to ensure peace and stability in the wider region, he expressed concern about the country’s large fiscal deficit and steep unemployment rates. Uganda called on the country’s political leaders to enact and follow through on the reforms necessary to address those concerns.
VITALY CHURKIN ( Russian Federation) said his delegation could not agree with the High Representative’s assessment. Indeed, the overall tenor of his report was one of persisting tension and inability on the part of the authorities to resolve the situation on their own. The assessment was not objective, and relegated to the background several key developments, including the launching of a comprehensive dialogue by and among the three constituents. That cooperation had led to the passing of a budget at “record speed”, and approval of a constitutional amendment to the Dayton Accords. Those events were evidence of the constituents’ commitment to work out solutions on their own.
He said that too much attention was being paid to harsh rhetoric and all the blame had been placed on the Prime Minister of the Republika Srpska, whereas no real actions contravening Dayton had been taken. The report did not take that into account and seemed to emphasize only outside appearances. The Office of the High Representative appeared to be “operating by inertia”, and was failing to take into account the significant progress under way. Hopefully that Office would carry out its future duties in a more objective manner. In the meantime, the Russian Federation was ready for close interaction with the High Representative and all members of the international community in efforts to achieve the tasks set out by the Dayton Accords and the Steering Board.
SLAVKO KRULJEVIĆ ( Serbia) said that, as a neighbour and one of the guarantors of the Dayton Accords, his country continued to respect that agreement fully as the basis for stability in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the wider Western Balkan region. One of Serbia’s foreign policy priorities was developing good neighbourly relations and a strong commitment to regional stability. It was working actively to promote regional stability and considered respect for the territorial integrity of all Western Balkan States to be vitally important in that regard. Serbia supported the participation of all South-Eastern European Member States of the United Nations in various regional projects and initiatives.
He went on to stress that the international community should conduct relations among the three constituent nations in Bosnia and Herzegovina “with due attention and mutual respect”. Any reform should be carried out in such a way as to contribute to the country’s integration into the European Union. Serbia supported all efforts to ensure stability, democracy and socio-economic prosperity in Bosnia and Herzegovina. It also welcomed all decisions and solutions resulting from democratic agreements among the three constituent nations -- Serbs, Bosniaks and Croats. All countries in the region must commit to universal values, including the rule of law, human rights and respect for the United Nations Charter and fundamental principles of international law, and all those who had perpetrated heinous crimes during the tragic conflict in the region must be brought to justice. That was the moral and political duty of all the affected countries, and Serbia continued to make efforts to cooperate fully with the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia.
MARTIN PALOUŠ ( Czech Republic), speaking on behalf of the European Union, welcomed the progress made since the signing a year ago of the Stabilization and Association Agreement between the regional body and Bosnia and Herzegovina. However, despite those positive developments, many challenges remained, including nationalist, anti-Dayton rhetoric which undermined the efforts of political leaders to find common language and compromise. That had resulted in State institutions making inadequate progress in relation to European Union reforms.
He called upon local political leaders to engage thoroughly and with stronger determination on the reform agenda, stressing that European Union membership for Bosnia and Herzegovina, as a single and integral State, remained the ultimate goal and would reinforce the stability of the entire region. The European Union urged the national authorities to maximize efforts to deliver the remaining objectives so as to allow the transition from the Office of the High Representative to the reinforced Office of the European Union Special Representative, increasing local ownership.
The European Union also considered full cooperation with the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia as a priority, he said. The security situation in the Western Balkans, actively assisted by the European Union, remained stable and the regional bloc pledged its continued commitment to assisting Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as its continued support for the High Representative’s efforts towards European integration.
Mr. INZKO, High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina, objected to certain statements by Mr. Špirić warning against the imposition of solutions on his country from outside. That was just the kind of rhetoric impeding progress in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the Office of High Representative would not accept any challenge to the Dayton Accords.
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