– AS DELIVERED –
I have the honour to speak on behalf of the European Union.
The Acceding country Croatia*, the candidate countries the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia*, Montenegro* and Iceland+, the country of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidate Albania, the EFTA country Norway, member of the European Economic Area, as well as Ukraine and Georgia, align themselves with this statement.
I join other speakers in welcoming High Representative Valentin Inzko back to the Council and express support to him and his office.
Bosnia and Herzegovina has held, some five weeks ago, local elections which, it should be noted, have taken place in an overall satisfactory manner, although postponed in Mostar. In addition, important signs of progress have been achieved in the first half of 2012, with strong support from the UE. This proves that moving forward is possible.
Yet the political and economic situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina continues to be difficult. The lack of progress in implementing necessary political and economic reforms, the continued use of divisive rhetoric, and deeply rooted divisions among political parties, continue to cause considerable headwind for the efforts of those who want to see Bosnia and Herzegovina as a stable, viable, multi-ethnic, prosperous and united state, cooperating peacefully with its neighbours and irreversibly on track towards EU membership. We therefore encourage the Security Council to send a message of support for the efforts of BiH’s political leadership, as well as the EU and others who are working towards this end, both on the ground and within the wider international community.
Recent political instability in Bosnia and Herzegovina, both at state and Federation levels, has weakened the earlier positive momentum in the implementation of the reform agenda. Following the municipal elections on 7 October, the European Union has therefore stepped up its engagement with the country’s authorities to underline the responsibility of political leaders to constructively address today’s pressing challenges. These include in particular the rule of law, the economy, jobs, and social welfare. To make credible progress on meeting these challenges requires that Bosnia and Herzegovina moves forward on the European path. During their joint visit to Sarajevo on 30 October, HR/VP Ashton and US Secretary of State Clinton jointly highlighted these priorities and reaffirmed their commitment to Bosnia and Herzegovina’s future.
The EU believes that it is critical that Bosnia and Herzegovina’s obligations under the Interim/Stabilization and Association Agreement are fulfilled as a matter of priority. Failing this, the country wouldn’t be in a position to make the progress, on its path towards European integration, that its citizens expect and are entitled to. In particular, Bosnia and Herzegovina needs to urgently bring its Constitution into compliance with the European Convention of Human Rights and implement the ECHR ruling in the Sejdic – Finci case. This will allow the EU to take a decision on the entering into force of the Stabilisation and Association Agreement with Bosnia and Herzegovina, paving the way for further steps forward, including a credible EU membership application.
The EU also strongly encourages Bosnia and Herzegovina to move forward in the implementation of the Road Map agreed among the BiH political leaders in the High-Level Dialogue on the EU accession process. The role of the Road Map is to facilitate the implementation of the key requirements in BiH’s path towards Europe.
The EU also welcomes the decision to suspend the international supervision in the Brcko District, taken in the last PIC Steering Board in May, and the accompanying closure of the High Representative’s office in Brcko on 31 August.
Since September 2011, the European Union has strengthened its political presence in Bosnia and Herzegovina in order to facilitate its progress towards European integration. The EU is now represented by a single EU presence on the ground (EU Special Representative/Head of Delegation), which is fully engaged in supporting Bosnia and Herzegovina in all EU related matters. It has yet increased its presence in 2012, including on the field by opening regional offices in Mostar and Brcko and increasing the size of that in Banja Luka. The EUSR/HoD is also offering the EU Force Commander political guidance on military issues with a local political dimension, in particular concerning sensitive operations, relations with local authorities and with the local media.
The EU also continues to accompany Bosnia and Herzegovina’s progress in the security field. While the overall security situation has remained calm and stable, and Bosnia and Herzegovina authorities have proven capable to deal with threats to the security environment so far, ministers last month confirmed that the EU is ready to keep EUFOR Althea focused on capacity-building and training, while also retaining the capability to contribute to the BiH authorities’ deterrence capacity if the situation so requires, by continuing an executive military role to support Bosnia and Herzegovina’s efforts to maintain the safe and secure environment, under a renewed UN mandate. Separately, as a sign of progress, the EU concluded operations of its civilian police monitoring mission (EUPM) on 30 June this year. However, we remain committed in the area of rule of law, and have established a Law Enforcement Section in the EU office. We also continue to provide considerable Pre-accession assistance.
In the context of the EU overall strategy for Bosnia and Herzegovina, we look forward to continue the discussion with the international community on the reconfiguration of the international presence, in the appropriate forum, and call on the authorities in Bosnia and Herzegovina to meet the outstanding objectives and conditions for the closure of the OHR.
The EU reiterates its unequivocal commitment to the territorial integrity of Bosnia and Herzegovina as a sovereign and united country. We remain ready to provide the necessary assistance to support progress towards Bosnia and Herzegovina’s European perspective. It is this approach and this European perspective that will take the country forward on its reform agenda, towards stability and development, on its path to the EU.
Thank you Mr President.
* Croatia, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Montenegro continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process.
+ Iceland continues to be a member of EFTA and the European Economic Area.