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 the Republic of Moldova, align themselves with this statement.
I join other speakers in welcoming High Representative Valentin Inzko back to the Council.
We welcome the recent positive developments in Bosnia and Herzegovina and reaffirm our strong support for the country on its path towards European integration. We commend the relevant authorities and political leaders for their concrete efforts to take decisions in a spirit of compromise. After a prolonged period of stagnation, the European Union perspective has finally begun to dominate the political agenda. The European Union welcomes the formation of the state-level government as well as the adoption of the State Aid and the Population Census Laws. Timely and proper implementation of these laws will not only facilitate further progress towards European Union membership, but also contribute to the peace, stability and prosperity of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Momentum in Bosnia and Herzegovina is positive and has to be maintained. In particular, Bosnia and Herzegovina needs to urgently bring its Constitution into compliance with the European Convention of Human Rights. The implementation of the ECHR ruling in the Sejdic – Finci case would be a key element for the European Union to consider a membership application credible in the foreseeable future.
Among other important goals, socio-economic reforms are also urgently needed. In this regard, we look forward to the adoption of the 2012 state budget and the 2012-2014 Global Fiscal Framework, which are essential for the country’s ability to develop growth oriented policies, as well as to receive and utilize international economic and financial assistance, including the sizeable support provided by the European Union.
The European Union also welcomes and supports further progress in the implementation of the “5 objectives and 2 conditions”, in line with the agreement in principle among the political leaders on Defence and State Property. The EU expects that the PIC Steering Board will take a decision on ending Brcko supervision at its meeting next week. It is important to underline that it is the prime responsibility of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s political leaders to achieve concrete and tangible progress and thus allow for further transformation of the international presence, including the Office of the High Representative.
The European Union looks forward to continuing discussion with the international community on the reconfiguration of the international presence, including its downsizing and possible relocation of the OHR, in the appropriate forum. In this regard, it notes the ongoing discussions on overlapping tasks between the OHR and the EU.
The European Union has recently strengthened its engagement and political presence in Bosnia and Herzegovina so as to facilitate its progress towards European integration. The new single EU Special Representative/Head of Delegation, Peter Sorensen, who has the lead in supporting Bosnia and Herzegovina in EU related matters, has increasingly engaged with its authorities and political leaders. The two crisis management missions on the ground are also an expression of the EU’s commitment. Firstly, the European Union Police Mission, which will be closed by the end of next month and whose remaining strategic tasks will be transferred to the EUSR and a technical assistance programme. Secondly, EUFOR Althea, which remains an important element of the EU’s overall strategy for the country. Operation Althea continues to focus on capacity-building and training, while maintaining situational awareness and a credible reserve in case it is called upon to support efforts to maintain or restore the safe and secure environment, as stipulated by the UN SC Resolution 2019/12.
The overall security situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina remains stable. Security and political stability need to be maintained during the upcoming electoral period. In this regard, the EU encourages Bosnia and Herzegovina political representatives to continue acting in a spirit of compromise, to work for the long-term interests of the country and refrain from divisive rhetoric and actions that harm the interests of the citizens. We stand fully behind the authority of the High Representative and welcome the close cooperation with the EU Special Representative. Moreover, we reiterate our unequivocal commitment to the territorial integrity of Bosnia and Herzegovina as a sovereign and united country.
Bosnia and Herzegovina has travelled far since the end of the war in the 1990s. Its ongoing transformation away from reliance on international presence into a position of being a responsible and contributing member of the international community, as represented by its 2010-2011 participation in the work of this Council, is primarily a Bosnia and Herzegovina owned and led process. The European Union will proactively continue to support progress towards a stable, viable, peaceful, multi-ethnic and united Bosnia and Herzegovina, cooperating peacefully with its neighbours and irreversibly on track towards EU membership.
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.