|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
6659th Meeting (AM)
Security Council Told Political Stagnation, Backsliding in Bosnia and Herzegovina
Highlight Need for Continued Presence of High Representative, European Force
Bosnia and Herzegovina Describes Situation as ‘Complex, but Not Un-resolvable’;
Others Regret Inability to Form New Government 10 Months after General Elections
The High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina told the Security Council today that, given what he saw in that country, there was still a clear need for his Office to remain in place, and given the continued negative trends and political instability, it was essential for EUFOR (European Union multinational stabilization force), with a Chapter VII executive mandate, to also remain in place.
Briefing the Council, ahead of the expiration of EUFOR’s mandate at the end of this week, High Representative Valentin Inzko said his Office needed to step in to address large holes in the country’s legal system. “A continued commitment to and focus on Bosnia and Herzegovina is the way to get to the objective desired by all — a Bosnia and Herzegovina that is stable, safe and solving its problems institutionally as it moves towards full Euro-Atlantic integration,” he said.
Over the last year, he said, Bosnia and Herzegovina had continued to see political stagnation and backsliding. The challenges to the Dayton Peace Accord had continued. One of the basic reasons for those challenges lay at the core of the nation’s political culture, in which politicians showed little willingness to compromise. More than 12 months after the general elections, the State-level Council of Ministers had yet to be formed, and the State-level budget for 2011 had yet to be passed. The European Union and Euro-Atlantic integration processes remained blocked and the country’s credit rating had been downgraded.
He said Republika Srpska had continued with legal and political actions and sharp rhetoric that challenged Bosnia and Herzegovina State-level institutions, competencies and laws and his authority under the Dayton Agreement and relevant Council resolutions. In July, he had intervened in the Central Bosnia Canton to address an attempt to ignore the Constitution and form a Government that could have raised tensions to an unacceptable level. He had also lifted sanctions following the capture and transfer to The Hague of Ratko Mladić. Unfortunately, that arrest had not been accompanied by a decline in the use of inflammatory nationalistic rhetoric.
Congratulating Bosnia and Herzegovina meanwhile on its tenure as a member of the Security Council, he said that had given the Government the opportunity to make new friends and gain the respect of many countries; it should be counted as a significant foreign policy success.
Pointing to positive developments in his country, the representative of Bosnia and Herzegovina said that, despite the fact that not all had been achieved regarding that integration, strong commitment to that aim were present, both at the level of political leadership and among the wide population of the country.
Regardless of the political difficulties facing the country, he stressed that Bosnia and Herzegovina had a secure and safe environment and a positive security situation. There was good cooperation between the EUFOR ALTHEA and the Armed Forces of Bosnia and Herzegovina, while law enforcement agencies in the country had had good cooperation with the European Union Police Mission (EUPM), particularly in fighting organized crime and corruption, as well as promoting accountability within police bodies.
He added that, although the economic situation in the country remained difficult, due in part to the global economic and financial crisis, economic data for 2011 showed some signs of improvement, and both exports and production had increased. Bearing in mind those positive developments, he said, “we are convinced that there is a way to overcome the current situation, which is complex, but not un-resolvable”.
Taking issue with the High Representative’s report, the representative of the Russian Federation said that it could “hardly be called objective”. He urged the Council to read a recent letter from the President of Republika Srpska, as the report before it unfairly painted the situation in a negative light. There was also evidence that the High Representative had made interventions “beyond his Dayton mandate”. The High Representative had deliberately emphasized a negative view of the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina to justify his own position.
The representatives of France and the United Kingdom, echoing other speakers today, expressed serious concern at the current stalemate 10 months after general elections in the country. France’s representative noted that the inability to form a new Government had started to have a negative impact on the economy and had delayed reforms towards Euro-Atlantic integration. He called on leaders to start the necessary reforms, warning that, should that not happen, Bosnia and Herzegovina could turn its back on the European perspective. He also warned against any initiatives that ran counter to the Dayton Agreement.
The representative of the United Kingdom added that Bosnia and Herzegovina was a country that should have hopeful prospects, including membership in the European Union. That, however, required a commitment to reform by the country’s politicians. Their responsibility was to realize the possibilities, not to stifle them, he said.
Croatia’s representative said Bosnia and Herzegovina was “a country of two entities and three constitutive peoples”. The State itself could be strengthened only by respecting the equality of the three peoples — including of the smallest group, the Croats — in all possible aspects of life. The Dayton Peace Accords brought peace, but not stability or prosperity. Democracy in Bosnia and Herzegovina started with equal rights for all three constitutive peoples.
The representatives of Germany, Gabon, Nigeria, Brazil, Colombia, Lebanon, China, South Africa, United States, India, Portugal and Serbia also spoke, as did the Head of the Delegation of the European Union.
The meeting started at 10:15 a.m. and adjourned at noon.
For the Security Council’s meeting this morning on Bosnia and Herzegovina, it had before it the letter dated 3 November 2011 from the Secretary-General addressed to the President of the Security Council (document A/2011/682), pursuant to Security Council resolution 1031 (1995), which contains the fortieth report of the High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The report covers the period from 21 April to 15 October. On 1 September, the High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina formally turned over his duties as European Union Special Representative to Peter Sorensen, with whom he is cooperating closely. The consolidation of the European Union presence in Bosnia and Herzegovina represents a welcome step forward by the European Union to assume greater responsibility in guiding the reform process in that country in relation to its accession to the Union. It also means that he will now be able to focus his energies solely on his mandate under annex 10 of the General Framework Agreement for Peace, including addressing ongoing challenges to the Agreement.
The report states that more than one year after the general elections of October 2010, Bosnia and Herzegovina remained without a new State-level Government, a fact which both reflected and contributed to the ongoing deterioration of the political situation during the reporting period. In the absence of agreement on a 2011 budget, the State institutions have been funded under a restricted temporary financing mechanism since January. In this context, international credit-rating agencies downgraded the country’s outlook, specifically citing the negative political situation. In its annual progress report on Bosnia and Herzegovina, the European Commission also noted the country’s political problems.
On the economic front, registered unemployment at the end of June was estimated at approximately 43 per cent of the workforce, while foreign direct investments in the first half of the year decreased by 19.5 per cent over the same period in 2010, according to the report.
Also during the reporting period, legal and political challenges by Republika Srpska to Bosnian State-level institutions, competencies and laws, and the authority of the High Representative under the General Framework Agreement and relevant Security Council resolutions have continued, as have annexes 2, 4 and 10. As he outlined in his briefing to the Security Council on 9 May, the Republika Srpska National Assembly adopted conclusions in April and a decision to hold a referendum on the decisions of the High Representative, including those establishing the Bosnia and Herzegovina Court and Prosecutor’s Office, which formally disregard and/or reject the principles established under annex 10 and annex 4 of the Agreement, and thereby constitute a breach of the Dayton Agreement. The Republika Srpska’s 13 April adoption of a referendum decision had been repealed on 1 June. However, the controversial conclusions of the same date continued to influence Republika Srpska policies.
The High Representative noted the use of inflammatory nationalistic rhetoric continued, including further statements by officials of the Republika Srpska in support of State dissolution, and chauvinistic comments directed against other ethnic groups, and expressed deep concern about recent public statements that challenge the statehood of Bosnia and Herzegovina by characterizing the country as a “State union”, ignoring the fact that the country was admitted to the United Nations as a Member State in 1992, together with Croatia and Slovenia. Those statements, undermining the constitutional arrangements provided for under the General Framework Agreement, should to be taken seriously, especially in the light of other actions directly challenging the Agreement as set out in this and previous reports.
According to the report, the arrest on 26 May of General Ratko Mladić and his transfer on 31 May to the International Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia in The Hague brought good news, but political leaders in the Republika Srpska continued to challenge the rulings of the Tribunal and the International Court of Justice that qualified the massacre of Bosniaks who had sought refuge in the United Nations-protected area of Srebrenica in July 1995 as genocide.
Some Federation politicians have also used unwelcome rhetoric, and some leaders of Croat majority continue to press for a third entity with a Croat majority and have revived the Croat National Council, the report states. The two leading Croat parties in Bosnia and Herzegovina continue to question the legality and legitimacy of the incumbent Federation Government, demanding that it be reshuffled to include them as the “sole legitimate representatives of the Croat people”. In the Federation, some Bosniak political leaders escalated their rhetoric in response to statements by the Republika Srpska leadership and warned of possible conflict, were there to be an attempt to divide the country. The former Federation President, now a delegate in the Bosnia and Herzegovina Parliamentary Assembly, also made offensive statements, appearing to question the suitability of prosecutors from ethnically mixed marriages to carry out their factions.
In spite of tensions and controversy surrounding its formation, the report finds that the Federation Government had functioned well during the reporting period. Nevertheless, three seats in the entity’s Constitutional Court remain vacant, preventing the court from ruling on vital national interest cases submitted to it, thereby affecting the protection of constituent peoples in the Federation. In addition, the Federation remains burdened by a large, expensive and multilayered government apparatus. Further, none of the outstanding items among the five objectives and two conditions necessary for the closure of the Office of the High Representative was fulfilled during this reporting period. Owing to the continuing stalemate over government formation following the 3 October 2010 elections, the old Council of Ministers remains in a caretaker capacity. This stalemate negatively impacts the ability to address long-needed reforms, including those needed for progress in Euro-Atlantic integration.
Through its continued presence, the European Union military mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina has continued to reassure citizens that the country remains safe and secure despite the difficult political situation, the report says. The High representative supports the extension of the executive mandate under annexes 1 and 2 of the General Framework Agreement.
VALENTIN INZKO, High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina, introducing the report, said he was working in close collaboration with the European Union representative, which would demonstrate the international community’s strong commitment to Bosnia and Herzegovina in its Euro-Atlantic aspirations. The General Framework Agreement was being carried out and reforms would not be endangered. Since his last report, however, Bosnia and Herzegovina had continued to see political stagnation and backsliding. The challenges to Dayton had continued.
He said that one of the basic reasons for those challenges lay at the core of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s political culture, in which politicians showed little willingness to compromise. More than 12 months after the general elections, the State-level Council of Ministers had yet to be formed, and the State-level budget for 2011 had yet to be passed. The European Union and Euro-Atlantic integration processes remained blocked and the country’s credit rating had been downgraded.
Republika Srpska had continued with legal and political actions and sharp rhetoric that challenged Bosnia and Herzegovina State-level institutions, competencies and laws and his authority under the Dayton Agreement and relevant Council resolutions, he said. The Republika Srpska’s 13 April adoption of a referendum decision had been repealed on 1 June. However, the controversial conclusions of the same date continued to influence Republika Srpska policies.
Keeping with the principle of local political ownership, the High Representative had refrained from the use of his executive mandate unless it was absolutely necessary. The only case in which he had used his executive authority was to lift sanctions imposed by his predecessor in connection with non-cooperation with the International Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia and the International Criminal Court, following the capture and transfer to The Hague of Mr. Mladić. Unfortunately, that arrest had not been accompanied by a decline in the use of inflammatory nationalistic rhetoric.
He said there remained a need for his Office to step in to address large holes in the country’s legal system. In July, he had intervened in the Central Bosnia Canton to address an attempt to ignore the Constitution and form a government that could have raised tensions to an unacceptable level. “Given what I continue to see, there is still a clear need for my Office to remain in place, to fill such legal gaps and maintain stability,” he said. “Given the continued negative trends and political instability, it is essential for EUFOR (European Union multinational stabilization force) with a Chapter VII executive mandate to remain in place […].” A continued commitment to and focus on Bosnia and Herzegovina was the way to get to the objective desired by all — a Bosnia and Herzegovina that was stable, safe and solving its problems institutionally as it moved towards full Euro-Atlantic integration.
He congratulated the country on its tenure as a member of the Council, which had given Bosnia and Herzegovina the opportunity to make new friends and gain the respect of many countries and should be counted as a significant foreign policy success. “Let us work together, the entire international community, to scale the last remaining metres of the mountain, to secure the peace and to secure Bosnia and Herzegovina’s European Union future. Together we can do it. Together we will succeed,” he said in conclusion.
IVAN BARBALIĆ ( Bosnia and Herzegovina) described some positive developments that had taken place in his country during the reporting period. Despite the fact that not all had been achieved regarding plans for integration into the European Union, strong commitment, support and dedication to that aim were present, both at the level of political leadership and among the wide population of the country. The decision to appoint Peter Sorensen as the European Special Representative was a welcome consolidation of the European Union’s presence in Bosnia and Herzegovina, which should result in better guidance in the reform process towards the country’s accession to the Union.
He said the country welcomed the decision of the High Representative to withdraw the sanctions against certain individuals. Unfortunately, following the elections of 3 October 2010, a new Council of Ministers of Bosnia and Herzegovina had not been formed; however, all other institutions in the country had been established and were fulfilling their responsibilities. The presidency had also been active in adopting several important decisions regarding Bosnia and Herzegovina’s foreign policy.
Regardless of the political difficulties facing the country, Bosnia and Herzegovina had a secure and safe environment and a positive security situation, he stressed. The overall situation had been calm and stable for several years, which was reflected in the EUFOR ALTHEA reports. There was good cooperation between the EUFOR ALTHEA and the Armed Forces of Bosnia and Herzegovina, while law enforcement agencies in the country had had good cooperation with the European Union Police Mission (EUPM), particularly in fighting organized crime and corruption, as well as promoting accountability within police bodies.
Bosnia and Herzegovina had also maintained good cooperation with the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, not only during the reporting period, but for years. The State strategy for processing war crimes had contributed significantly to reconciliation in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Furthermore, a database on war crimes had been established, while categorization and determination of the level — State or entity — was under way, at which identified war crimes cases would be investigated or tried. “Prosecution of all those responsible […] is a precondition not only for reconciliation, but also for the peace and stability of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the entire region,” he said.
The economic situation in the country remained difficult, due in part to the global economic and financial crisis. However, as indicated in the report, economic data for 2011 showed some signs of improvement, and both exports and production had increased. Bearing in mind those positive developments, he said, “we are convinced that there is a way to overcome the current situation, which is complex, but not un-resolvable”.
PETER WITTIG ( Germany) welcomed the contribution to peace and stability in Bosnia and Herzegovina made by the Office of the High Representative over the past 16 years, and aligned himself with the statement to be delivered by the European Union. The security situation remained calm and stable, and it was important to note that neither EUFOR nor the Interim or Stabilization Missions (IFOR/SFOR) had ever had to intervene to maintain peace. Less than two decades ago that would not have seemed possible, and that development deserved recognition. The European Union had decided to reconfigure EUFOR ALTHEA, with a focus on training and capacity-building. However, the continuing “political paralysis” was cause for concern, and the lack of a shared vision on the part of the leadership on the overall direction of the county was particularly worrisome.
He said it was up to Bosnia and Herzegovina’s leaders themselves to put the well-being of the country and its citizens at the top of their agenda and to establish all necessary Government institutions without delay. Given Bosnia and Herzegovina’s history, close monitoring had undoubtedly been necessary in the past, but that had not created an impetus for leaders to seek compromise. In fact, that approach at times had impeded the assumption by local ownership of the reform process. The international community should discontinue that approach; in that regard, the decision to decouple the High Representative and the European Union Special Representative was an important step, and others should follow.
The continued reconfiguration of EUFOR ALTHEA should be encouraged, and the Office of the High Representative should be downsized, relocated abroad, and its staff levels made commensurate with its remaining tasks, he said. Additionally, a sustainable and comprehensive answer to the question of immunity from legal proceedings of former staff of the Office of the High Representative must be found, he said, inviting Member States to contribute to those activities. Germany supported the extension of the mandate of EUFOR ALTHEA for another year, as the Force “epitomized the joint commitment” to a peaceful, prosperous future for Bosnia and Herzegovina and its people.
MARTIN BRIENS ( France) said his country supported a renewal for the authorization of EUFOR ALTHEA within a political context that was “heavy with uncertainty”. The security situation had been calm for several years and the arrests of Mr. Mladić and Goran Hadžić and their transfer to The Hague were positive developments. Still, since the October 2010 elections, the country had been unable to form a new central Government, something which had started to have a negative impact on the economy and delayed reforms towards Euro-Atlantic integration. He called on leaders to start the necessary reforms, warning that, should that not happen, Bosnia and Herzegovina could turn its back to the European perspective.
He said France remained concerned and warned against any initiatives that ran counter to the Dayton Agreement. He called upon the leaders of Bosnia and Herzegovina to return to dialogue and to make their activities a part of a pattern towards the consolidation of State function respectful to democratic principles and human rights. He underscored the European Union’s bolstered commitment to Bosnia and Herzegovina. European Union Special Representative Sorensen had taken up his functions and would support consolidation and reforms.
NOEL NELSON MESSONE ( Gabon) said his country was pleased with EUFOR’s role in stabilizing the environment amid a difficult political situation, in which the main political parties were incapable of finding a shared vision to form a federal Government. Concerned about that political impasse, which was exacerbated by nationalistic rhetoric, his country deplored the current situation and urged all parties to engage in a dialogue, exercising tolerance while moving ahead constructively towards a dynamic, united and consensual country.
He invited the international community to maintain its support and assistance to parties, with the goal of achieving the five objectives and two conditions set by the Council, in accordance with the Dayton Peace Accord. The international community should intensify its efforts to encourage the different parties to put in place those objectives and conditions, which were necessary elements to replace the High Representative with a Special Representative of the European Union.
U. JOY OGWU ( Nigeria) welcomed the positive developments in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Despite persistent political challenges, its Government continued to function effectively; further, the efficiency with which Mr. Mladić had been captured and transferred to The Hague was commendable. However, Nigeria was concerned about continued attacks on Government institutions and the competence of the High Representative. The use of inflammatory rhetoric was also worrisome. That climate impelled leaders to exercise restraint. She urged them to commit to dialogue and exhibit flexibility and compromise.
She said her country was pleased with the momentum generated by reforms to fast-track membership in the European Union and North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), as well as formation of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s Government. In the first six months of the reporting period, indicators had pointed to signs of economic progress, and, in order to consolidate those gains, efforts must be made to address the stalemate in the 2011 budget, continued unemployment and other major challenges. Those responsibilities lay with the Government and people of Bosnia and Herzegovina, but the support of the international community must remain “steadfast and unrelenting”. She welcomed the work of EUFOR, which was helping to foster stability, while reiterating Nigeria’s strong support for the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Bosnia and Herzegovina. It was only when all parties took steps to consolidate the gains that lasting peace, stability and security could be achieved. Every moment must be seized to make that a reality.
MARIA LUIZA VIOTTI ( Brazil) said that her delegation was committed to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Respect for the international legal framework on the division of power was a key to its stability, she said, encouraging further efforts to consolidate recent gains. In that respect, priority should be given to establishing fully functioning Government institutions. Brazil expressed concern about “divisive rhetoric” and questions about the territorial integrity of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and called on all parties to respect those rights and to cooperate with the European Union Special Representative.
She said her country was pleased that the situation had remained calm during the period under review, despite rhetorical confrontations. The delegation supported the renewal of EUFOR’s mandate for another year. The division of leadership could only bring about more challenges, and Brazil, therefore, encouraged leaders to put aside their differences and reach compromise. It was convinced that the people of Bosnia and Herzegovina would achieve the goals of lasting peace and stability.
NÉSTOR OSORIO ( Colombia) said that in the midst of great challenges, the people of Bosnia and Herzegovina had great hopes for the future possibilities of the country, which had worked very well despite the tensions noted in the report. “This is a success story that we must treasure,” he said. It was important, therefore, to avoid nationalistic rhetoric and move towards dialogue. He hoped the institutions of government and justice would be consolidated, with the support of the United Nations and the European Union. Bosnia and Herzegovina had natural allies in Europe, and the country could play an important role in the consolidation of peace in other areas of the world.
He reiterated support for the Dayton Agreement, and called upon all parties to strictly fulfil the provisions contained therein. If the five objectives and two conditions were not met, the Office of the High Representative should continue to apply the Agreement in order to bring about a political climate that would be conducive for Euro-Atlantic integration.
NAWAF SALAM ( Lebanon) welcomed the development of the security situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the country’s cooperation with other States in the region. He hoped that a representative Government could be established soon and that it would carry out reforms. A new Government should have a positive effect on efforts to fulfil the five objectives and two conditions, which would lead to closing the Office of the High Representative.
He said it was important to find common solutions to the various issues between the local parties. That process should take place, however, within the legal framework established by the Dayton Agreement. He hoped the parties would refrain from actions that would challenge that framework. The creation of solid national institutions would help to re-establish the pillars of security, accountability and efficiency. It was also important for leaders to avoid nationalistic rhetoric, which hindered the establishment of a sustainable peace.
VITALY CHURKIN ( Russian Federation) said that, unfortunately, the analysis of the report before the Council could “hardly be called objective”. It represented a slanted view of the Bosnia and Herzegovina leadership. The Council, therefore, should also read a recent letter from the President of Republika Srpska, among other documents. The report unfairly painted the situation in a negative light. The Russian Federation had repeatedly pointed to proof of the violations of the Dayton Agreement and asked for clarification of EUFOR’s mandate. Furthermore, the “provocative rhetoric” of the report did not take into account the territorial integrity and sovereignty of the country.
He said there was evidence that the High Representative had made interventions “beyond his Dayton mandate”. He also noted the counter-productivity of the use of force on the Bosnian side. The Russian Federation was surprised about certain passages on the Croatian issue, adding that the accusations of that leadership were unfounded; additionally, the “patronizing tone” of the High Representative was “inadmissible”. Indeed, all substantive issues could, in fact, be solved. In his report, the High Representative had “passed over in silence” a number of processes that had taken place in Bosnia and Herzegovina, which had contributed to breaking several stalemates. All of that bore witness to the ability of the parties to reach an agreement. The Russian Federation believed that the High Representative had deliberately emphasised a negative view of the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina in order to justify his own position.
Practically speaking, he said, the transfer of responsibility to the Bosnia and Herzegovina authorities themselves meant the abolition of the mandate of the High Representative. He expressed concern about the “planned phased closure” of that Office. Any decisions on the future of the country should be taken by the people of Bosnia and Herzegovina themselves.
LI BAODONG ( China) said that the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina had undergone visible improvement and notable progress had been made. However, the country was facing certain difficulties. China supported the territorial integrity and sovereignty of the county, as well as the ability of its people to choose their fate. It hoped that the diverse peoples of Bosnia and Herzegovina would be guided in their actions by the overall quest for the stable future of the country.
He said that Bosnia and Herzegovina was a country of major importance in the Balkan region; its peace and stability served the interests of the international community. The High Representative, therefore, should continue to play a constructive role in the implementation of the Dayton Peace Accords. However, the questions surrounding the country’s situation remained extremely complex, and the international community should be attentive to the various views in the country. China supported the extension of EUFOR’s mandate.
MICHAEL TATHAM ( United Kingdom) expressed serious concerned at the situation in the country. Although the security situation was stable, there was certainly not progress, as a new Government had not yet been formed one year after elections. He was also concerned at the intensification of nationalistic rhetoric, the little progress towards Euro-Atlantic integration and the lack of progress in fulfilling the five objectives and two conditions. He was also concerned about challenges to the authority of the High Representative. He called on the country’s political leaders to refrain from divisive rhetoric, noting that some politicians remained unwilling to put the needs of the people and the country above their own nationalistic interests. Constitutional reforms were necessary in order to bring Bosnia and Herzegovina in line with criteria for European Union membership.
He said the stalemate also had a negative impact on the economic situation, as exemplified by the downgrading of its credit rating. That situation was only worsened by endemic corruption. Bosnia and Herzegovina was a country that should have hopeful prospects, including membership in the European Union, but that required a commitment to reform by the country’s politicians. “Their responsibility is to realize the possibilities, not to stifle it,” he said. The arrest of Mr. Mladić was welcome, and served as a strong statement of the international community’s commitment to justice. He supported extension of EUFOR ALTHEA’s mandate as an international safeguard against instability.
ZAHEER LAHER (South Africa) also expressed concern that one year after elections, the country had not able to form a State-level Government, a situation that might even affect peace and security in the Balkans and stifle attainment of the five objectives and two conditions. Peace and stability in the country was dependent on the parties’ willingness to respect the rule of law and the political structures and balance brought about by the Dayton Agreement — a balance that should be maintained and respected. Eventually, the Dayton Agreement must be replaced by a permanent constitution. He, therefore, called on all parties to start the process of constitutional reforms, which should establish strong State structures that superseded all others.
He stressed that no progress could be made without dialogue between parties and ethnic groups. The Office of the High Representative would be closed as soon as the conditions were met. As none had yet been met, he encouraged all parties to engage in that process so that the country could take full responsibility for its people. Reconciliation should be the ultimate aim of dialogue. It was jeopardized, however, by nationalistic rhetoric. He supported renewal of the EUFOR ALTHEA mandate and hoped it would solve all outstanding political issues, and he encouraged all parties to implement the Dayton Peace Agreement.
ROSEMARY DICARLO ( United States) said that the signing of the Dayton Accords had established a framework for a lasting peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and had been the cornerstone of those efforts for the past 16 years. That country had shown that it was a “strong and responsible” member of the international community, including through its tenure on the Security Council. Additionally, its leaders had shown that compromise was possible on matters of international peace and security. The United States was confident that such compromise could extend to Bosnia and Herzegovina’s internal matters, as well.
She said the United States remained fully committed to the framework for peace established by the Dayton Accords, and was concerned about statements that questioned the accords and the very statehood of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The United States agreed that the conclusions adopted by the Republika Srpska National Assembly presented a serious challenge to the peace framework, and shared concerns that other controversial conclusions had not been repealed. The High Representative had the United States’ full support in his upholding of the Dayton Accords, as well as against attacks on his competence. The United States would continue to consider its own measures in support of the Dayton Accords, should any become necessary. Additionally, protection against unwarranted legal proceedings was needed for staff of the Office of the High Representative, and mechanisms to prevent such proceedings were needed in other countries, as well. The United States welcomed a more thorough discussion on those issues.
Bosnia and Herzegovina needed functioning Government institutions, she continued. The United States remained optimistic about the country’s presidency. Nonetheless, Bosnia and Herzegovina remained “mired” in a political stalemate 13 months after the October 2010 elections. She reviewed certain requirements that the country must achieve in order to be considered for European Union status, including the need to provide equal rights to all of its citizens — including ethnic minorities. State leaders had engaged with each other on those issues, and the United States called on them to reach consensus on other key issues as soon as possible. The outstanding items on the “Five plus Two” agenda still needed to be fulfilled. The delegation supported the Union’s presence under the Special Representative and looked forward to working closely with him. Her delegation also supported the renewal of EUFOR’s mandate, and remained committed to working in close coordination with all parties to support the people of Bosnia and Herzegovina and their European integration.
HARDEEP SINGH PURI ( India) said that it was commendable that some Government institutions, as well as the presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina, had been functioning well. He hoped that those gains would help to pave the way for the formation of a new Government. Bosnia and Herzegovina was an “experiment” in the creation of a new State after a civil war. In India’s view, the problems enumerated in the report and the briefing of the High Representative were bound to be encountered in a multi-ethnic society.
“While the path is long and arduous, the fruits were well worth the effort,” he said, referring to the work of state-building. Mutual suspicion, inflammatory rhetoric and other divisive actions would only worsen the atmosphere and delay the achievement of the country’s overall goals. He, therefore, encouraged the Government to persevere despite those challenges. India supported the extension of EUFOR’s mandate, as the Force had played an important role in ensuring safety and stability in the face of a tense situation.
JOSÉ FILIPE MORAES CABRAL (Portugal), speaking in his national capacity, said for the last 10 months, Bosnia and Herzegovina had been facing an impasse that affected national policies, as well as progress towards attaining membership in the European Union. The situation had also created a deadlock on much-needed internal and external action. Efforts must be enhanced, therefore, to reach agreement so that a new Government could be formed without delay. Political leaders must show a willingness to engage in dialogue and to reach compromise. As the international community must stay fully engaged with the country, he supported a renewal of the EUFOR’s mandate, agreeing with its focus on capacity-building and training while ensuring the safety of the people of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
THOMAS MAYR-HARTING, Head of the Delegation of the European Union, said that, although the security situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina had been calm and stable for a long time, he remained concerned about political uncertainty and the economic outlook. Political leaders of Bosnia and Herzegovina should urgently form a State-level Government through an inclusive process, and reforms should be taken that would push the country towards accession to the European Union. The Security Council should send a message of serious concern, urging political actors to find common solutions within the General Framework Agreement for Peace. In that regard, it was critical that the country’s obligations under the Interim/Stabilization and Association Agreements were fulfilled. Bosnia and Herzegovina must bring its Constitution into compliance with the European Convention of Human Rights and should adopt the European Union-acquis compatible law on State Aid, as well as a State census law. Political leaders must achieve tangible progress on objectives and conditions for closure of the Office of the High Representative.
He said the European Union was strengthening its engagement in Bosnia and Herzegovina through a comprehensive approach and significant financial assistance. The Union’s appointed representative, Mr. Sorensen, had led Bosnia and Herzegovina in European Union-related matters. The Union maintained two crisis management missions on the ground, the European Union Police Mission and EUFOR ALTHEA, and, at this stage, was ready to continue in an executive military role to support a safe and secure environment under a renewed United Nations mandate. The Union looked forward to further discussions with the international community on the reconfiguration of the international presence in the country, including its downsizing and possible relocation of the Office of the High Representative.
He recalled that the Union had regularly encouraged political representatives of Bosnia and Herzegovina to act in a “greater spirit of compromise”, to enhance consultations and to work for the country’s long-term interests. In that regard, the High Representative should closely cooperate with the new European Union Special Representative. Bosnia and Herzegovina should be recognized as a sovereign and united country, and divisive rhetoric and actions should be avoided. In closing, he said 16 years after signature of the Dayton-Paris Peace Agreements, the citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina deserved a “qualitative step forward” towards European integration. Political leaders should accelerate the pace of reforms to put the country firmly on its path towards accession to the European Union.
FEODOR STARČEVIĆ ( Serbia) stated his wish that some of the formulations in the report had been “more balanced” regarding the positions of the two entities. “Perhaps not every expression of entities’ views on some existing problems can be understood as antagonistic rhetoric,” he stressed. Serbia supported the preservation of the integrity of Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as the lasting stabilization of its internal situation and the achievement of a sustainable solution in the spirit of European standards acceptable to all of its three constitutive peoples. It fully supported the stability, territorial integrity and sovereignty of the country and remained fully aware that every decision on the change of the internal system defined by the Dayton Accords must come as a result of complete consensus. “Only the institutions of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the citizens of that country can define its policy, and there are no powers on the basis of which these functions could be taken over by international presences,” he stressed. The history of the Balkans had taught that impositions and “majorization” could not bring about the needed and expected results.
He said his country sought the closest good-neighbourly and friendly relations with Bosnia and Herzegovina, and wished that country every success on its road towards the European Union. Additional, concrete encouragements from that bloc were necessary for Bosnia and Herzegovina’s further stabilization, bearing in mind that membership in the Union was in the common interest of all of the country’s people. Serbia believed that the international community should treat the relations between the three peoples in Bosnia and Herzegovina with great care, and on the basis of respect for their mutual interests. It encouraged all parties to make additional efforts to reach sustainable solutions for all open questions. The process of closing the Office of the High Representative and cancelling the so-called Bonn Powers should be embarked upon, as the legitimately elected representatives of the peoples and entities of Bosnia and Herzegovina had both the ability and capacity to assume responsibility for independent conduct of the affairs of their State.
RANKO VILOVIĆ ( Croatia) said that Croatia had been consistently advocating membership in the European Union and NATO as the best framework for stabilizing its South-East European neighbours. Bosnia and Herzegovina was “a country of two entities and three constitutive peoples”. The State itself could be strengthened only by respecting the equality of the three peoples in all possible aspects of life. The Dayton Peace Accords brought peace, but not stability or prosperity. The country today yearned for a more functional political system, which must come from within and must not be introduced at the expense of democracy.
Two grave challenges threatened Bosnia and Herzegovina today, he added. The first was the rhetoric flirting with the break-up of the country and the other was the position of Croats. It was important to ensure that the democratic will of the Croats in Bosnia and Herzegovina, as the smallest people, was fully respected. Democracy in Bosnia and Herzegovina started with equal rights for all three constitutive peoples.
Croatia was eager, he stated, to see Bosnia and Herzegovina embark on the process of integration into the European Union and NATO. His country knew how demanding and challenging those processes were and how detrimental any sort of democratic deficit could be at every step of the way. There were thoughts that Bosnia and Herzegovina could move forward only if ethnicity was to give way to common citizenship. However seductive the idea of quickly reaching a functional State on that basis might be, it must not be forgotten that ethnic-national affiliation made a very strong component of individual entities in that country. Bypassing that issue instead of solving it, he cautioned, would constitute a heavy burden in the process of Euro-Atlantic integration.
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