I thank Mr. Inzko, High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina, for his briefing.
I congratulate you, Mr. President, on your country’s assumption of the presidency of the Council, and thank the Permanent Representative of Azerbaijan and his delegation for the way in which they led our Council in October.
I endorse the statement to be made by the observer of the European Union (EU).
We have just adopted Resolution 2123 (2013), reauthorizing the action of the European Union-led peacekeeping force (EUFOR) Operation Althea, which maintains a residual executive mandate to support the capacity of the authorities of the country to preserve the security environment if the situation so requires. However, the Operation also continues to be evaluated regularly, in particular based on the situation on the ground, so as to achieve progress towards meeting the conditions that will enable it to complete its mandate.
Indeed, the security situation on the ground has remained consistently calm and stable for several years. Furthermore, as the military authorities of the European Union have pointed out, the Bosnia and Herzegovina authorities have to date proved able to cope with any threats to the security climate.
The reconfiguration of the mission to Bosnia and Herzegovina therefore should continue.
It has already led to a decrease in the forces deployed in Bosnia and Herzegovina and enabled them to refocus their role on capacity-building and training. The action of EUFOR Operation Althea in the drawdown phase must remain complementary to that of other stakeholders on the ground, in particular the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. Duplication of efforts would lead only to confusion and be counterproductive.
Despite a calm and stable situation on the ground, as I have just mentioned, we remain nonetheless concerned by the stalemate in the political situation.
The successive political crises distract the Bosnian authorities from their Euro-Atlantic integration goal. Nationalist rhetoric continues to fuel tensions and suspicions. We regret those excesses, especially because other States of the region have overcome and continue to overcome historic stages in the Euro-Atlantic integration process.
The Council therefore urges the Bosnian Government to resume its efforts towards reform, above all with by respecting the Sejdić-Finci ruling of the European Court of Human Rights, which is a decisive question for progress towards EU membership, as the Council has chosen to underscore in its resolution. We should like to see the current Government bring the Constitution into line with the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms. We also call on the Bosnia and Herzegovina authorities to continue their cooperation with the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia and the residual mechanisms. That is a crucial criterion for Bosnia and Herzegovina’s being accepted within the European family.
However, the absence of action by the Bosnian authorities is slowing movement towards accession.
We are of course committed to the prospect of seeing Bosnia and Herzegovina joining the European Union as a unified, sovereign country enjoying full territorial integrity. However, it is up to the Bosnians and their leaders to find historic compromises that would endow the country with effectively functioning institutions. That clearly would not allow for the current usage of the current institutional framework inherited from the Dayton Peace Agreement. A country that is under supervision and deeply divided cannot as such become part of the European Union.
Nonetheless, political tensions have never undermined the security climate. High Representative Inzko, a guarantor of the peace agreements on behalf of the international community, has our full support. But the current governmental crisis reminds us that it is high time to empower the Bosnian political class to reclaim its unity for the sake of the singular priority of the European Union membership being extended to the country. The functions of the High Representative must therefore also significantly evolve.
The consideration of how to reconfigure the Office of the High Representative has been initiated. Those efforts must continue in order to make that Office more effective based on the key role of the European Union. We hope that the relevant decisions will be taken shortly.
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