5 May 2016, New York – Statement on behalf of the European Union and its Member States by H.E. Mr. Ioannis Vrailas, Chargé d’Affaires a.i., Delegation of the European Union to the United Nations, at the Security Council Debate on the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovnia
– As delivered –
I have the honor to speak on behalf of the European Union and its Member States.
The Candidate Countries Montenegro* and Albania*, as well as Ukraine, align themselves with this statement.
I join other speakers in welcoming High Representative Valentin Inzko back to the Council and in assuring him of the European Union’s continued support. I also welcome the Permanent Representative of Bosnia and Herzegovina and thank him for his statement.
The situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina has been subject to discussion in this Council for more than two decades. Over this period we have witnessed an important transformation of the nature of these discussions, reflecting the strengthened stability and progress in democracy, rule of law and socio-economic development in the country. This Council has contributed greatly to the advancements seen since the end of the armed conflict in 1995.
Today, Bosnia and Herzegovina is actively contributing to UN missions, gradually transforming from the role of the security consumer to that of security provider. The country held a seat among this Council’s distinguished members and took its share of responsibility for global peace and security. At the same time, the International Court for the former Yugoslavia and the United Nations Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals, supported by the local judicial authorities in Bosnia and Herzegovina and other countries of the region, are continuing to try to bring the perpetrators of war crimes to justice and peace to their victims.
The European perspective of Bosnia and Herzegovina has been a central driver in overcoming challenges on the ground and in mobilizing citizens and their elected representatives behind the necessary political and socio-economic reforms. A great majority of the country’s citizens strongly desire that Bosnia and Herzegovina advances in its European aspirations. On 15 February 2016, the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina submitted the country’s application for membership to the European Union. The European Union welcomed this as a broad and unequivocal expression of the country’s commitment to continue its efforts on the EU path. The application follows further deepening of the political dialogue with the European Union in 2015. This reaffirms the true and lasting commitment and engagement of the European Union to Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Together with our international partners, including the international financial institutions, the European Union continues to invest in Bosnia and Herzegovina’s reforms. These joint efforts support the domestic stability and lay the foundations of future prosperity for all citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina, which has been a long-shared goal of the European Union and of this Council.
Bosnia and Herzegovina’s authorities, with the support of the European Union and its international partners, have developed, agreed and are implementing the most comprehensive package of socio-economic reforms that this country has seen in its recent history. These efforts require a serious commitment and a readiness to make difficult political decisions in overcoming the long legacy of underinvestment, lack of structural reforms and burdensome administrative difficulties. Bosnia and Herzegovina needs to reenergize its economy and make it more competitive. Meaningful progress in this regard is needed and will enable the Council of the European Union to decide on the next steps in the Bosnia and Herzegovina’s EU path.
The overall positive momentum on the ground, however, continues to face important challenges stemming from the persisting political divisions and in-efficient administrative and decision-making structures. In anticipation of the municipal elections this October, we call for avoidance of divisive agenda and rhetoric, as this might weaken the positive momentum and introduce inefficiency in decision making at a time when the country needs to mobilize all its resources behind reforms.
Particular concerns have been raised by the intentions of the leadership of Republika Srpska to hold various referenda. Such political initiatives distract the attention from the mounting socio-economic difficulties, blurring the responsibility of the local authorities, and have strong potential to undermine stability. Citizens will see through these actions, and their elected representatives, whom they entrusted to address these issues, will be held accountable. I’d like to take this opportunity to encourage all parties involved to reach an agreement as soon as possible on how to implement the electoral requirements to allow for elections in Mostar this October.
Reconciliation needs to advance broadly among the citizens and the political leadership representing their interests. To succeed, the country needs to move forward united. The European Union reiterates its unequivocal commitment to the territorial integrity of Bosnia and Herzegovina as a sovereign and united country as well as to Bosnia and Herzegovina’s European Union prospect.
The European Union will continue to use all available instruments to support Bosnia and Herzegovina’s stability and progress. The overall security situation has remained relatively calm and stable, yet stability has not been fully entrenched. In this regard, the European Union confirms its decision to maintain its presence in Bosnia and Herzegovina, including through EUFOR/ALTHEA executive mandate, while focusing on capacity building and training.
As the country’s stability continues to strengthen and further progress is achieved in reforms and on the EU path, the European Union looks forward to continuing, in the appropriate forum, the discussion with the international community on the reconfiguration of the international presence. In this regard, the European Union calls on the authorities in Bosnia and Herzegovina to meet the outstanding objectives and the conditions for the closure of the Office of the High Representative.
Bosnia and Herzegovina has made notable progress since the last discussion in this Council. Its European perspective drives the reforms in the country and contributes to overall stability and development. Political divisions remain, including across ethnic lines and require continued focus and efforts by the international community using appropriate tools. The European Union looks forward to the continued support of this Council in its role in guiding and assisting Bosnia and Herzegovina towards peace, stability and prosperity for all its citizens.
* Montenegro and Albania continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process.
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