Summary: 24 May 2010, New York - Statement on behalf of the European Union by Pedro Serrano, Acting Head of the Delegation of the European Union to the United Nations, at the Security Council Debate on Bosnia and Herzegovina
I have the honour to speak on behalf of the European Union.
The Candidate Countries Turkey and Croatia*, the Countries of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidates Albania and Montenegro, as well as Ukraine, the Republic of Moldova and Georgia align themselves with this declaration.
I would like to join other speakers in welcoming High Representative Inzko and reiterate the EU's full support to his office and actions. I would also like to welcome President Silajdžić and congratulate Bosnia and Herzegovina on having assumed its seat at the UN Security Council for two years.
As the High Representative has reported, BiH has made some progress in recent months in advancing its European and Euro-Atlantic perspectives. We commend this development and encourage further efforts.
It is also encouraging that regional cooperation in the Western Balkans has continued to develop positively, with renewed constructive engagement from Serbia and Croatia, and with Turkey playing a useful role. We look forward to the momentum that will be generated by the EU-Western Balkans Ministerial Meeting in Sarajevo on 2 June.
But as the HR has pointed out, the overall political climate in BiH has continued to be negative. Unhelpful rhetoric has increased in the run-up to elections scheduled for 3 October.
It remains a matter of great concern that during the last six months the authority of State institutions and competencies and the authority of the HR has more frequently been challenged. The adoption of a new law on referendums by Republica Srpska is particularly worrying should it be used to challenge the existing constitutional framework. The EU wishes to reiterate its strong support for HR Inzko and calls on all parties in BiH to fully comply with all decisions taken by him and not to seek to challenge his authority. We underline once more our firm commitment to the territorial integrity and sovereignty of BiH.
Against this backdrop, we encourage all political leaders to work for the long-term interests of BiH. Consensus is urgently needed to achieve political reforms and to tackle significant economic and social challenges.
The EU is highly committed to and fully engaged in BiH. The EU uses all available tools on the ground and assists with significant financial assistance and expertise. The Lisbon Treaty gives us new impetus and new possibilities for a future enhanced political presence in the country. Through our two missions on the ground - Operation EUFOR ALTHEA and EUPM - the EU supports BiH efforts to maintain a safe and secure environment.
The EU is committed to continuing the executive mandate of Operation EUFOR ALTHEA in accordance with Security Council Resolution 1895 (2009). Should the situation require, the EU stands ready to maintain an executive military role to support these efforts beyond 2010 under a UN mandate. Building on its achievements, the operation has started to provide non-executive capacity-building and training support, thus contributing to strengthened local ownership and capacity. The EUPM mandate has also been extended until the end of 2011, with a specific focus on fighting organised crime and corruption and on enhancing cooperation between police, prosecutors and the penitentiary system.
We firmly believe that the future of BiH indeed lies within the EU. We are encouraged that when there is political dialogue and consensus, the country can achieve reforms. Visa liberalisation is a concrete example. Due to BiH's good progress in meeting the benchmarks, the European Commission is working on a proposal for the update of the Schengen white list on which the Council and the European Parliament will co-decide in the coming months.
Such positive political will also need to be demonstrated elsewhere to ensure that Bosnia and Herzegovina does not fall behind the rest of the region in its European integration process. As HR Ashton noted in her address to the Security Council on 4 May, steps remain to be taken by BiH to secure a well-functioning state. In particular:
Additional efforts are needed in order to meet the outstanding requirements (five objectives and two conditions) for the closure of the OHR, notably regarding state and defence property. The EU has been clear that it will not be in a position to consider an application for membership by Bosnia and Herzegovina until the transition of the OHR to a reinforced EU presence has been decided.
Progress is also needed on constitutional reform to enable better functioning of BiH institutions as well as to implement the ruling of the European Court of Human Rights on the rights of minorities to stand for election and be appointed to important State-level institutions. The law on census should be adopted without further delay. The EU continues to attach importance to a full cooperation with the ICTY.
In his report, the High Representative has set out some urgent and pressing reform priorities in BiH. Many of these are essential if Bosnia and Herzegovina is to realise its ambition of EU accession. Without them, BiH compromises its strategic priority and risks falling further behind other countries in the region as regards the European integration process. We cannot afford to lose time. It is the responsibility of the BiH leadership to move ahead rapidly and constructively, and as soon as possible. As high-level visits by HR Ashton and Commissioner Füle have shown, the EU remains fully committed to BiH, and will remain so after the eventual closure of the OHR. In turn, we encourage all BiH political leaders to be committed to the EU and act in support of Bosnia and Herzegovina's European aspirations.
* Croatia continues to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process.