|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
6222nd Meeting (AM)
Amid ‘Political Impasse’, Bosnia and Herzegovina at Crossroads in Bid
for Euro-Atlantic Integration, Security Council Told
High Representative Cites ‘Confusions’ in Briefing on Latest Developments
Despite a political impasse in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the country was at a crossroads in its bid for Euro-Atlantic integration and required continued international support for that effort, Valentin Inzko, High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina, told the Security Council today.
“Let us remember that Bosnians and Herzegovinians have shown resilience, creativity and fortitude in the past. With their help, I know that we can end the present impasse and move ahead”, he said, welcoming efforts by the United States and the European Union to intensify dialogue in order to overcome the blockage through the so-called Butmir Process.
He said the impasse resulted from two confusions: there was confusion in the Republika Srpska over its own nature and that of the State as a whole; and there was confusion in both entities over the proper focus and functioning of politics and the State as a system. The Republika Srpska leadership had failed to grasp that State and entity authorities had separate and clearly defined mandates, and each must work without interference from the other. At the same time, a number of political leaders in the Federation advocated an unbalanced, larger role for the State, which also impeded progress.
As a result of those confusions, there had been little recent progress on the laws required for Euro-Atlantic integration, and the Council of Ministers had failed to make key appointments, he said. Tens of thousands of jobs had been lost as a result of the world recession, but also because of a failure to ensure cooperation and proper fiscal coordination in the country.
He said ground might actually have been lost on achieving the five objectives and two conditions that must be met before the Office of the High Representative could be closed to make way for a strengthened European Union Special Representative. Additionally, objectives relating to State and military property had not been met.
In moving forward, the dual position of High Representative and Special Representative should be reviewed alongside other possibilities for the way ahead, he suggested, voicing hope that the diplomatic initiative by the United States would bear fruit in overcoming the political impasse by next month.
Also addressing the Council, Nikola Spiric, Chairman of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s Council of Ministers, said the High Representative’s report did not leave much room for optimism, adding that it sought culprits rather than solutions. Emphasizing that there were neither exclusive culprits nor those who were “absolutely guiltless”, he said the report said more about the Office of the High Representative than about the situation within Bosnia and Herzegovina. If the report depicted the true state of affairs, how could the country have been elected to the Security Council? he asked. How could European Union countries have supported its candidacy if they were not ready to support its application for European Union membership?
He said that, since the last Security Council meeting on the subject, the Council of Ministers had discussed and adopted 38 bills and had made much progress on liberalizing the visa regime. However, that success had been overcast by other less successful attempts at reform, he said, adding that tying the issue of visa-regime liberalization to any other process was “utterly counter-productive”.
Hopefully Bosnia and Herzegovina would be treated in the same manner as its neighbours and that its progress would soon be formally endorsed by the European Commission in the form of a positive recommendation, he said. “All of us need new optimism we can reach only through an internal dialogue that will ensure further progress on the Euro-Atlantic path. I urge you to encourage the authorities of Bosnia and Herzegovina to seek the best possible solutions through a dialogue, and I urge the High Representative to act as a strong incentive to that dialogue”, he concluded.
In the discussion that followed, most Council members took note of the negative trends in the High Representative’s report, urged Bosnia and Herzegovina’s political leaders to engage in dialogue to overcome the political impasse, and welcomed United States engagement in the Butmir initiative for that purpose. Most were also highly supportive of the High Representative’s work in that area.
However, the representative of the Russian Federation maintained that the Office of the High Representative had become a factor for destabilization as it interfered with the work of democratically elected bodies. His focus should be on prompt implementation of the five objectives and two conditions required to close his Office.
Croatia’s representative emphasized that strong central institutions were crucial to Euro-Atlantic integration, and stressed the importance of ensuring the rights of ethnic Croats in Bosnia and Herzegovina, who formed a small minority but should feel equal, safe and assured of the right to return to their pre-war homes. Along with other speakers, he also emphasized the need to end impunity for crimes committed in the conflict of the 1990s.
Mr. Inzko and several representatives congratulated Bosnia and Herzegovina on its election as a non-permanent member of the Security Council.
Also speaking today were the representatives of France, United Kingdom, Turkey, United Sates, Burkina Faso, China, Mexico, Uganda, Viet Nam, Costa Rica, Libya, Japan, Austria, Sweden (on behalf of the European Union) and Serbia.
The meeting began at 10:13 a.m. and ended at 12:25 p.m.
Before the Council was a letter dated 12 November 2009 (document S/2009/588), from the Secretary-General to the President of the Security Council, transmitting the thirty-sixth report of the High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina on implementation of the Dayton Peace Agreement, covering the period from 1 May to 31 October 2009.
According to the report, Bosnia and Herzegovina has made little progress in its reform agenda in the past six months, due most notably to attacks carried out by the Government of the Republika Srpska against State institutions and laws, and to continued challenges to the High Representative’s authority and that of the Steering Board of the Peace Implementation Council. Nationalist, anti-Dayton rhetoric challenging the sovereignty and constitutional order of Bosnia and Herzegovina also play a role, and efforts to open a process of dialogue and compromise are foundering.
As a consequence, the report states, only limited progress has been made towards meeting the outstanding requirements set by the Steering Board for the transition from the Office of the High Representative to a European Union Special Representative, or towards progress on the Euro-Atlantic agenda. The high-level discussions known as the Butmir Process have also not yet yielded any concrete results, although they still have the High Representative’s full support.
The report says significant progress is limited to sped-up activity on visa liberalization laws, which, together with the issuance of the first biometric passports, revived hopes that Bosnia and Herzegovina might not lag too far behind its neighbours in meeting the requirements of the Schengen White List project for visa-free travel in the Western Balkans. However, as the political situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina remains “fragile and tense”, the High Representative recommends extending the European Union military mission known as EUFOR.
Briefing by High Representative
VALENTIN INZKO, High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina, congratulated the country on its election to the Security Council, describing the event as its greatest foreign policy success since the Dayton Agreement, as well as a huge responsibility. Unfortunately, in domestic matters, the country no longer focused on practical challenges, but on a fundamental political debate that the international community was intensively working to resolve in order to achieve progress towards the final objective of a sovereign, prosperous and democratic country, fully integrated into Euro-Atlantic structures.
Describing the current failures as the result of political differences and obstructionism, he expressed confidence that the situation would be overcome because Bosnia and Herzegovina society had distinctive ways of producing consensus and was part of the sustained international effort to integrate the countries of the Western Balkans into Euro-Atlantic structures. The impasse had resulted from two confusions: there was confusion in the Republika Srpska over its own nature and that of the State as a whole; and there was confusion in both entities about the proper focus and functioning of politics and the State as a system. The Republika Srpska leadership had failed to grasp that the State and entity authorities had separate, clearly defined mandates and each must work without interference from the other. At the same time, a number of political leaders in the Federation advocated an unbalanced, larger role for the State, which also impeded progress.
As a result of those confusions, little progress had been made on the laws required for Euro-Atlantic integration, and the Council of Ministers had failed to make key appointments, he said. Of particular concern, the Council’s Serb members had voted down a law extending the mandates of international judges and prosecutors working in Bosnia and Herzegovina, which could cause a collapse of the judicial system. A consistent pattern of obstructionism had emerged in which the Republika Srpska leadership criticized and condemned State-level institutions at the very same time as it engaged in undermining those institutions, while the country struggled desperately to become a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the European Union.
He went on to say that, due to the confusion over the proper focus of politics, tens of thousands of jobs had been lost as a result of the world recession, but also because of a failure to ensure cooperation and proper fiscal coordination in the country. Officially, a quarter of the working population was now unemployed, salaries and pensions were low and late, poverty was endemic and bank lending had practically dried up. That crisis was largely ignored by the political establishment, though there was controversy over the spending cuts required by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) before it would disburse the first tranche of a €1.2 billion loan in July. After numerous problems, the latest IMF mission should open up the disbursements.
Meanwhile, 120,000 citizens continued to be classified as internally displaced, amid the growing politicization of the issue of refugee returns, and the Strategy for Refugee Return remained blocked, he said. Because of the political problems, it was to be hoped that the diplomatic initiative spearheaded by the United States and the European Union would come to a positive conclusion in December. There was a clear indication that continued high-level attention from the wider international community was needed to keep Bosnia and Herzegovina on the right track.
He went on to say that ground might actually have been lost on achieving the five objectives and two requirements that must be met before the Office of the High Representative could be closed to make way for a strengthened European Union Special Representative. The objectives related to State and military property had not been met and the conditions for closing on the Brcko District Supervision had not been fulfilled. For those reasons, it might be necessary to review the positions of both the High Representative and the Special Representative, alongside other possibilities for the way forward. The task ahead was to complete the rule of law and economic reform agenda, resolve the issue of State and defence property, and make provision for continued refugee returns. That could be done as none of the Steering Board members wished the situation to deteriorate further.
In that regard, he commended the Security Council for its decision last week to approve the extension of the EUFOR mandate as it was a guarantee to citizens that the international community would not tolerate the possibility of a return to violence. “The country is now at a crossroads and the political leaders will now need to decide whether they are ready to fulfil the necessary conditions which would help them move forward on Euro-Atlantic integration and whether they are ready to address the conditions needed for the closure of the Office of the High Representative”, he said. The international community must also decide on its future presence in Bosnia and Herzegovina, since a robust presence would still be needed after the closure of the Office of the High Representative. “Let us remember that Bosnians and Herzegovinians have shown resilience, creativity and fortitude in the past. With their help I know that we can end the present impasse and move ahead.”
NIKOLA SPIRIC, Chairman of the Council of Ministers of Bosnia and Herzegovina, said that since the last Security Council meeting on the subject at hand, the Council of Ministers had discussed and adopted 38 bills and a number of important strategies and action plans. The absolute priority was to fulfil the conditions for the liberalization of the visa regime, and, last week, all 174 requirements from the Visa Regime Liberalisation Roadmap had been fulfilled. An International Legal Assistance Bill, a Border Control Bill and an Anti-money Laundry Bill had been adopted, as well as a number of strategies, including a Strategy to Reintegrate Returnees. A number of system-wide measures had been adopted to enable all institutions to prepare for issuance of the new biometric passport, of which some 10,000 had been issued.
However, success had been overcast by less successful attempts at reform, he said, noting that tying the issue of visa-regime liberalization to any other process was, therefore, “utterly counter-productive”. As the European Commission had assured the Chair that the Roadmap requirements were of a technical rather than a political nature, it was to be hoped that Bosnia and Herzegovina would be treated in the same manner as neighbouring countries. Hopefully its progress would soon be formally endorsed by the European Commission in the form of a positive recommendation.
Reporting on the parliamentary procedures for some 38 bills, including an Anti-mine Bill, Free Zones Bill and a Census Bill, he said the Fiscal Council had agreed on the draft 2010 budget. The Council of Ministers and the Entity Government were committed to fulfilling the conditions contained in the Letter of Intent signed with the IMF.
He said the report of the High Representative did not leave much room for optimism as it sought culprits rather than solutions. There were neither exclusive culprits nor those who were absolutely guiltless, and the report said more about the Office of the High Representative than the situation within Bosnia and Herzegovina. If it depicted the true state of affairs, how could Bosnia and Herzegovina have been elected to the Security Council? How could European Union countries support that candidacy while there was no readiness to support the country’s application for European Union membership? “There are too many illogicalities and too much experimenting with Bosnia and Herzegovina, just as many as there are dilemmas and challenges to which all of us need to respond in an appropriate manner”, he said.
Noting that the report claimed that the Council of Ministers had been unable to meet or make decisions, he pointed out that the Council had held 10 sessions, discussing 321 agenda items and adopting 20 bills before taking a summer break in August. The key State agencies, which disposed of billions of euros, were managed by directors whose terms of office had expired long ago. Any further degradation of vacancy procedures or hindrance of the process should not be allowed. The Republika Srpska could be a vehicle of development rather than a threat to it. Whereas the report could not find a single positive conclusion concerning the Republika Srpska, the entity had been recognized as a more functional and efficient part of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The High Representative’s local staff had fallen into the trap of unprofessional superficiality.
Constitutional reform had been a burning issue, he said, stressing that it should not be tied to the question of transforming the Office of the High Representative into that of European Union Special Representative. Only through a step-by-step approach could the goal of constitutional reform be attained. In that regard, he pointed out that whenever the principle of “all-or-none” had been applied, Bosnia and Herzegovina had ended up with none. Constitutional reform must be the fruit of internal dialogue and compromise, based on the Dayton Accords and in no way a solution imposed from elsewhere.
“Bosnia and Herzegovina is at a crossroads now”, he said, adding: “In order to make further positive steps and achieve progress, what is needed is much less superficiality and much more earnestness on the part of both domestic stakeholders and international community.” There was also a need for new optimism that could only be attained through an internal dialogue that would ensure further progress on the Euro-Atlantic path. “I urge you to encourage the authorities of Bosnia and Herzegovina to seek the best possible solutions through a dialogue, and I urge the High Representative to act as a strong incentive to that dialogue.”
NICOLAS DE RIVIERE (France) recalled that, one year ago, Bosnia and Herzegovina had signed an agreement regarding its wish to join the European Union. Regrettably, however, political divisions in the country persisted. Last year had opened up new prospects such as the Butmir Process, supported by the European Union and the United States. The people and leaders of Bosnia and Herzegovina needed the political courage to turn towards the future. The European Union would follow developments carefully and welcomed in that regard the extension of the EUFOR mandate. Today’s meeting could have been an opportunity to note progress towards closing the Office of the High Representative and the opening of a new phase. However, the five conditions and two objectives had not been fulfilled, and a compromise within Bosnia and Herzegovina was, therefore, necessary.
MARK LYALL GRANT ( United Kingdom) expressed full support for the actions of the High Representative to uphold the Dayton Agreement and the EUFOR extension, and shared his concerns that there had been little progress and a deterioration of the political climate. Unless political leaders were willing to take bold steps, Bosnia and Herzegovina risked falling behind other countries in the region in its bid for European integration.
With that aim in mind, he expressed hope that the leaders could come to agreement on the necessary reforms, and welcomed the progress made on visa liberalization and IMF payments. Calling on political leaders to apply the same determination to other areas and urged them to seize the current window of opportunity, he said his country was determined to work with Bosnia and Herzegovina in whatever way possible. However, it was up to the country’s leaders themselves to do the major work towards European integration.
ERTUĞRUL APAKAN (Turkey) expressed support for the aspirations of the people of Bosnia and Herzegovina to integrate fully into the Euro-Atlantic institutions, noting, however, that, while the international community anticipated that the country would take steps towards establishing the stable and viable State envisaged in the Dayton Peace Accords, what was offered was “nationalistic, anti-Dayton rhetoric and actions that challenge the [country’s] sovereignty and constitutional order”. A common vision and joint action were needed rather than the pursuit of narrow ethnic interests.
He said five years had passed since the Peace Implementation Council Steering Board had set five objectives and two conditions for the transition from the Office of the High Representative to that of the European Union Special Representative. It would not be possible to make the transition until the necessary objectives and conditions had been met. Turkey fully supported the High Representative, and challenges to the authority of his Office were unhelpful to the international community’s deliberations on the transition.
Acknowledging the difficulty of constitutional reform, he expressed hope that political leaders would engage seriously in efforts to that end while showing commitment and flexibility to ensure a functional State structure. Turkey agreed with the European Commission and the High Representative on the need to address the problem of blockages due to abuse of entity voting rules, and on the need for a stricter definition of the national clause in the Constitution. Successfully reforming the Constitution would help decrease political tensions and lead to a more normal political climate.
ROSEMARY DICARLO ( United States) said that since the 1990s, Bosnia and Herzegovina had made extraordinary progress, including the rebuilding of infrastructure and the beginning of a reconciliation process. The country had also dedicated itself to playing a constructive role in Europe and the world. The United States was committed to helping Bosnia and Herzegovina and its people achieve membership of the European Union, and had engaged with civil society, leaders and parliamentarians through the Butmir Process, which was an effort to help resolve remaining issues relating to the five objectives and two conditions but also to constitutional reform.
Nonetheless, several aspects of the High Representative’s report were troubling, she said, expressing concern about the little progress made in meeting the requirements for the transition from the Office of the High Representative to that of Special Representative of the European Union. Bosnia and Herzegovina had also witnessed an increase in nationalist rhetoric, and the High Representative had noted that war crime prosecutions had suffered. In that regard, the mandates of international judges and prosecutors should be extended beyond December, she said.
Expressing deep concern over the lack of support for the authority of the Office of the High Representative, she emphasized that the agreed reform agenda, the five objectives and two conditions, must be completed, which would require the active support of all parties. The United States welcomed the recent extension of the mandate of EUFOR, which played a key role in Bosnia and Herzegovina. It should remain in the country for the time being in its current configuration.
VITALY CHURKIN ( Russian Federation ) said the report’s leitmotiv –- the inability of authorities to resolve issues -- was not in line with reality. The alleged deepening friction between the parties was at odds with the conclusions contained in EUFOR reports, which said the situation was stable and gave a positive assessment. The political debate in Bosnia and Herzegovina did not exceed the constitutional framework, and no anti-Dayton action was being undertaken.
The Office of the High Representative had become a factor for destabilization, he said, adding that, since democratic elected bodies were functioning, interference in their work did not support the statehood of Bosnia and Herzegovina and devalued the country’s democratic institutions. The High Representative’s mandate related solely to implementation of the Dayton Accords and items agreed by the Steering Board. The focus should, therefore, be on prompt implementation of the five objectives and two conditions. Settling the problems of State and military property was possible before the end of the year, which would enable the transition from the High Representative to a European Union Special Representative. It was essential to close the Office of the High Representative; but linking that to constitutional reform would lead the process into an impasse.
MICHEL KAFANDO ( Burkina Faso) congratulated Bosnia and Herzegovina on its election to the Security Council, but expressed regret that the constant challenges from leaders of the Republika Srpska and the resurgence of nationalism presented barriers to further progress. Burkina Faso welcomed the political efforts by the European Union and the United States, as well as the extension of the EUFOR mandate, and urged political leaders to keep dialogue alive and thereby make democratic progress possible. While noting the problems of the judicial system and other indications of a political logjam, as well as Bosnia and Herzegovina’s financial situation, he voiced hope that the transition from High Representative to Special Representative would soon take place, and urged the country’s leaders to move forward and overcome the current gridlock.
LIU ZHENMIN ( China) commended the High Representative for his efforts to overcome the political problems in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and welcomed the diplomatic efforts of the United States and the European Union. Hopefully, the country’s leaders would renew dialogue and make greater progress in all areas so as to preserve peace in the region. China urged all concerned to focus on Bosnia and Herzegovina’s economic problems, and welcomed the steps taken towards European integration. China also encouraged the High Representative to take further actions to assist that process, and pledged its support for the attainment of lasting stability and development in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
GUILLERMO PUENTE ORDORICA (Mexico), noting that Bosnia and Herzegovina’s election to the Security Council demonstrated the international community’s confidence in the country’s future, said that, for lasting peace and stability to prevail, the various political forces must give new impetus to dialogue. Concerned at the bleak picture painted by the report, Mexico called upon all actors to redouble their efforts to meet outstanding commitments and avoid actions that might jeopardize stability.
Expressing support for the High Representative, he said the international community should continue to support the Government regarding the maintenance of the rule of law, and encouraged State authorities to step up action to implement the war crimes strategy. Hopefully, endeavours to establish a central data base on war-crime cases and greater cooperation with neighbouring States would contribute to progress in that regard. An outstanding issue of the peace agreement pertained to the situation of some 120,000 internally displaced persons. It was important to achieve consensus on a strategy for returns, he stressed, adding that reintegration was vital to national reconciliation.
PATRICK S. MUGOYA ( Uganda) commended the High Representative for his efforts to facilitate implementation of Dayton, but voiced concern about ongoing attacks against State institutions, mainly by the Government of the Republika Srpska. The result was limited political progress that could lead to further tensions. Uganda called on the authorities of the Republika Srpska to refrain from divisive rhetoric and on key leaders to sustain unity and break the stalemate in order to move Bosnia and Herzegovina forward. He urged all parties, as well as neighbouring countries to uphold their commitments to uphold the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
He said EUFOR had contributed to a safe and secure environment that had enabled the Office of the High Representative and other international actors to continue their work. Uganda welcomed the progress achieved in sustaining the rule of law, but was concerned that it could be jeopardized by the war crimes strategy. It was important to extend the mandates of judges and prosecutors. Bosnia and Herzegovina had not been immune from the global crisis and foreign direct investment had suffered. Strengthening economic cooperation in the region would enhance the Government’s efforts to cope with the related challenges. Uganda also called on the authorities to address the plights of refugees and internally displaced persons.
BUI THE GIANG ( Viet Nam) expressed concern over the increasing divisions among political leaders which challenged the Dayton Peace Agreement and consequently the country’s sovereignty and constitutional order. The limited consensus on the top reform priorities and attempts to reverse previously agreed reforms were disturbing. Another source of concern was the lack of substantive political dialogue. In that context, Viet Nam was heartened by the relatively stable relations between Bosnia and Herzegovina and its immediate neighbours. At the present critical juncture, Bosnia and Herzegovina’s political leaders must work together towards a shared vision of the direction in which to take the country so as to expedite the smooth operation of institutions and create more functional, efficient State structures.
He voiced strong support for the full implementation of the Dayton Peace Agreement and the revised strategy for implementing its Annex VII, which provided a firm basis for resolving the problematic displacement of some 120,000 people. Bosnia and Herzegovina’s leaders should promote the sustainable return of refugees and internally displaced persons, and guarantee their right to employment, health care, education and pensions. Much more must be done on border and migration management and on fighting corruption and organized crime. Viet Nam commended and supported the important role of the High Representative in making progress towards full implementation of Dayton, and agreed with his view that the international community should continue playing a substantial role in promoting Bosnia and Herzegovina’s peaceful transition to a functional, modern democracy.
JORGE URBINA ( Costa Rica) said the High Representative’s report clearly pointed out the challenges of consolidating the progress achieved so far. The international community expected a change of attitude on the part of the Bosnia and Herzegovina leadership, which would allow a fully functional multi-ethnic State with a European future. He welcomed the current diplomatic initiatives and urged the leaders to muster the maturity and political will to make sure they succeeded. Entrenching the rule of law and combating impunity were crucial, and Costa Rica called for the strategies endorsed by the Council for those purposes to be taken forward, alongside a successful strategy for reintegrating displaced persons.
RANKO VILOVIC (Croatia), aligning himself with the statement to be made on behalf of the European Union, reaffirmed his support for the process that would admit Bosnia and Herzegovina to the regional bloc, but said he was highly concerned by the political roadblocks that were putting progress towards that objective in jeopardy. Croatia called on the country to re-energize progress through comprehensive and inclusive dialogue, particularly through dialogue on constitutional reform, for which the international community should continue to provide support.
Welcoming last week’s extension of EUFOR’s mandate, he emphasized the importance of assuring the rights of Croats in Bosnia and Herzegovina, who were a small minority but should feel equal, safe and assured of the right to return to their pre-war homes. He also stressed the need to end impunity for crimes committed in the 1990s and welcomed current political initiatives. Citing Croatia’s experience, he affirmed that strong central institutions were crucial to Euro-Atlantic integration, and, as a neighbour, stressed the importance of integration for Bosnia and Herzegovina and the region.
IBRAHIM DABBASHI ( Libya) said that after the painful events of the 1990s, much progress had been made in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Its people now interacted in a civilized manner, which paved the way for peace and prosperity for all citizens. Libya commended the High Representative’s efforts to help the parties implement the Dayton Accords. However, despite positive developments, progress on constitutional reform and the fulfilment of conditions for the transformation of the Office of the High Representative to that of European Union Special Representative had been slow. That could be ascribed to the lack of constructive dialogue between the leaders and attempts by one party to reduce the rights and authorities of the Federal Government. Those factors had obstructed reform of the judicial sector and delayed an acceptable solution to the problem of State property.
He said he was concerned that some 120,000 citizens were still registered as internally displaced persons and that politicization of that issue extended their suffering. Addressing that issue should be a priority of the State, as a solution to the problem was an important stabilizing factor. Prosecuting alleged perpetrators of war crimes could also help alleviate the pain of the past. Security could not be realized by intransigence on the part of the parties but only through consensus, realism and fulfilment of each party’s commitments. The parties should engage in constructive dialogue and cooperate with the High Representative for the emergence of a multi-ethnic, multicultural and stable State that would work for the prosperity of all citizens.
YUKIO TAKASU ( Japan) expressed hope that Bosnia and Herzegovina could soon achieve the five objectives and two conditions in order to realize the transition from the Office of the High Representative to that of European Union Special Representative. It was also to be hoped that the country could implement constitutional reform through the Butmir Process. However, Japan was concerned about attacks against State institutions and challenges to the authority of the High Representative, and urged the country’s leaders to refrain from rhetoric that challenged the constitutional order. It was essential that the international community continue to pay close attention to developments.
Consolidating peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina was a cornerstone of peace and prosperity in the entire region, he said. For that reason, Japan had dedicated $450 million in peacebuilding, economic development and regional integration projects. As the political situation remained delicate, the role of the High Representative continued to be of vital importance, as did the key role played by EUFOR. The people of Bosnia and Herzegovina should work together to achieve integration into the Euro-Atlantic community.
THOMAS MAYR-HARTING ( Austria) emphasized that Bosnia and Herzegovina must not fall behind its neighbours on the path towards Euro-Atlantic integration. European Union membership offered the best chance for a solution to most problems in the region. Austria shared concerns about the prevailing political climate, which had prevented the country from completing outstanding reforms. The closure of the Office of the High Representative and the transition to a reinforced European Union Special Representative were crucial, and all political leaders should help speed up reforms related to the Euro-Atlantic perspective and constitutional functionality. “It is time to correct the current course”, he added.
Expressing full support for efforts to consolidate the rule of law in South-east Europe, he welcomed Bosnia and Herzegovina’s progress in that regard, saying judicial and police reform presented an important challenge, but not the only one. In that context, he highlighted the work of the Regional Women’s Lobby for Peace, Security and Justice in South-east Europe. Former Austrian Foreign Minister Ursula Plassnik was actively involved in its work, and a policy paper recently published by the group underscored that respect for the rule of law was critical in all aspects of State administration, especially the education and health sectors, where corruption remained a fact of daily life.
He said EUFOR had helped to create a safe environment, and his country would continue as a troop contributor in its operations, noting that Austrian Major General Bernhard Bair had recently become Force Commander. Indeed, the stability and prosperity of Bosnia and Herzegovina was essential to achieving a broad zone of stability in the Balkans. Austria would remain a reliable partner to the country on its path towards European integration.
ANDERS LIDÉN ( Sweden), speaking on behalf of the European Union, said it was a critical time for Bosnia and Herzegovina: political divisions were blocking reforms amid significant economic challenges. The country was at risk of falling behind, while the rest of the region was moving towards European integration. The European Union shared international concern over the nationalist agendas which dominated Bosnia and Herzegovina’s politics. The immediate challenge was not the security situation, but changing the negative political dynamic. The European Union supported efforts to ensure compliance with the Dayton Accords and encouraged the country to move ahead with crucial reforms. It also welcomed the Security Council’s adoption of resolution 1895 (2009) extending the Chapter VII mandate of EUFOR.
While the European Union-led Althea force was ready to respond to possible security challenges, a decision on the possible evolution of Operation Althea would need to take political developments into account, he said. He emphasized the European Union’s deep concern over ongoing challenges to peace and stability in Bosnia and Herzegovina, adding that, while other parts of Europe were taking steps to enhance cooperation, the path chosen by the country’s leaders would be of great importance for their people’s European future.
The European Union’s joint proposal with the United States proposed a way forward and included two main elements, he said. First, it sought to achieve progress in meeting the five objectives and two conditions set by the Peace Implementation Council for the closure of the Office of the High Representative. The European Union would not consider a membership application as long as that Office existed. Second, it indicated a necessary set of constitutional changes to allow Bosnia and Herzegovina to meet the obligations of the integration process. “This proposal represents our best advice”, he said, stressing that reaching compromise depended upon local political leaders.
He said he shared concerns about the insufficient progress made in preparing the ground for closure of the Office of the High Representative, pointing out that the political process was in a decisive phase. The parties were urged to reach the necessary compromises in the coming period. Momentum had to be built before the election campaign period. Progress in meeting European visa liberalization benchmarks showed that Bosnia and Herzegovina could implement demanding reforms. It was to be hoped that the European Union future assistance to the country would focus exclusively on facilitating European integration. In order to be in a position to enter the bloc, the country must take all necessary measures to reach full sovereignty.
FEODOR STARČEVIĆ (Serbia) said that, as a neighbour of Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as a guarantor of the Dayton Agreement, his country was firmly committed to respecting fully its territorial integrity and sovereignty in implementing the relevant Security Council resolution 1031 (1995), and had supported its candidacy for non-permanent membership of the Council. Furthermore, Serbia provided concrete support for Bosnia and Herzegovina in the European integration process and considered membership in the European Union for all the region’s countries to be a common goal. Regional economic cooperation on both the bilateral and intraregional levels added a particular impulse towards permanently stabilizing the situation in both Bosnia and Herzegovina and the region as a whole.
He said the process of internal political reform aimed at advancing institutional capacities in Bosnia and Herzegovina was welcome, as were all initiatives to intensify reform. Due to the participation of representatives of all political parties, from both entities and all three of the Federation’s peoples, there were reservations as to the solutions that the European Union and the United States had recently proposed in the Butmir Process. However, Serbia would honour every agreement reached by the parties involved towards sustainable solutions in the spirit of contemporary democratic values. All participants should do all that was necessary to reach agreement. The principle of consensus was also applicable to the transition of authority from the High Representative to the European Union Special Representative.
High Representative INZKO, responding to comments and questions, said there seemed to be some confusion over the use of the so-called “Bonn powers”, which had been used some 900 times in the past. Under those powers, some 180 politicians had been removed from their posts, including three State Presidents, and he assured the Council that the use of the Bonn powers was increasingly “a thing of the past”.
He said that he had only used those powers in eight, mostly technical areas, and in an “exit-driven” way. He had not used them lightly, but in the end, he was the “ultimate authority in the theatre”. As for comments on his report, he said any report was a reflection of reality. Every report was “seismic”, indicating any “tremor” going on in the country. One could not turn a blind eye to problems, but he would be delighted to be able to present a more optimistic report in the future.
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