I thank Mr. Valentin Inzko, High Representative for Bosnia-Herzegovina, for his briefing. I associate myself with the statement to be made by the observer of the European Union. The security situation on the ground has remained calm and stable — something for which Bosnia and Herzegovina’s institutions have been fully responible. That has been the state of affairs for several years, and we should welcome it.
However, the succession of political crises — for months at a time at the central level, and now at the Federation level — and the continuing tension between the political representatives of communities paralyse the country and are of concern to us. Those incessant clashes divert Bosnian authorities from the goal of Euro-Atlantic integration. We particularly regret that in the light of the fact that other States of the region are about to reach historical milestones in that process or have demonstrated their ability to commit to dialogue and compromise in order to give themselves the opportunity to make progress towards the European perspective.
We therefore call once again on the Bosnian Government to undertake the reforms expected of it, first and foremost with regard to bringing the Constitution in line with the ruling of the European Court of Human Rights in the Sejdić-Finci case. That is a crucial element for progress towards European integration and resolving the issue of the apportionment of defence and State property. However, it is also essential to improve the functioning and effectiveness of institutions, starting with the establishment of a coordination mechanism on European issues. We remain attached to the prospect of seeing Bosnia and Herzegovina join the European Union as a united and sovereign country enjoying full territorial integrity. However, a country under trusteeship and deeply divided cannot as such belong to the European Union. It rests with the Bosnians and their leaders to find an historic compromise that would allow Bosnia and Herzegovina to develop institutions that function effectively, which clearly would not allow the prevailing exploitation of the institutional framework inherited from the Dayton Agreement.
We welcome the ongoing reconfiguration of the international presence in Bosnia and Herzegovina, which is a harbinger of opportunity and an illustration of the leading role that the European Union can and should play in the country, in accordance with the European vision offered to Bosnia and Herzegovina. The European Union is stepping up its political, humane and financial commitment to the country. The Office of the Special Representative of the European Union has been considerably strengthened in its regional presence and the rule of law. Mr. Peter Sørensen, Special Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina and Head of the Delegation of the European Union to Bosnia and Herzegovina, enjoys our full support. The reconfiguration of the European Union-led force Operation Althea (EUFOR Althea), resulting from a calm and stable environment, has made it possible to reduce the forces stationed there to 600 persons and to focus them on capacity-building and training. The Security Council must acknowledge that change, the nature of EUFOR Althea in the autumn, when it scrutinizes the role of the mission. EUFOR Althea still has a residual executive mandate to support the abilities of the country’s authorities to maintain security as the situation may require.
The Bosnian authorities have always been able to ensure security, and therefore do not need the European military presence for that purpose, as is regularly recalled in the reports of the Operation Commander. The activities of EUFOR Althea in its drawdown phase must continue to complement those of other actors on the ground, particularly the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), which has deployed its second largest mission covering a broad range of activities, such as governance, the rule of law, respect for human rights and the management of arms stocks and munitions surpluses. In that area, the OSCE should retain the leading role; a proliferation of actors would be counterproductive.
The reconfiguration of the Office of the High Representative is being considered, including by the European Union, which I would remind the Council contributes more than 53 per cent to the budget of the Office. These considerations do not reflect a positive assessment of the political situation; quite the opposite, continuing political difficulties require us to rethink and adjust our strategy. Maintaining at any price an approach dating from the 1990s does not serve Bosnia and Herzegovina. We would like to reduce the Office to a scale consonant with its residual responsibilities by strengthening its transparency and complementary nature with the Office of the EU. The current Government crisis reminds us that it is high time to change our approach to ensure that Bosnian politicians shoulder their responsibilities. When they do, the role of the High Representative must be strictly limited to the essential core of his mission within the framework of the civil tranche of the Dayton Peace Agreement.
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