8392nd Security Council Meeting: Situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina

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06-Nov-2018 01:52:52
Security Council renews multinational stabilization force in Bosnia and Herzegovina, unanimously adopting Resolution 2443 (2018) at 8392nd meeting.

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Urging the parties in Bosnia and Herzegovina to speedily form a new Government following recent elections, the Security Council today renewed its authorization of the European-led multinational stabilization force (EUFOR Althea) for one further year, amid a briefing and debate on the situation in the country.

Through the unanimous adoption of resolution 2443 (2018), the Council urged the parties to work constructively for the implementation of the results of the general election at all levels, prioritizing comprehensive reforms for the benefit of all citizens in line with the European perspective the country is committed to, and called on them to refrain from polarizing policy, action and rhetoric.

Prior to the adoption of the text, the Council heard a briefing by Valentin Inzko, High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina, who presented his latest report (document S/2018/974), which says that while the elections were held without major security incidents there was “a new level of divisive and provocative rhetoric from some senior political figures” and that “irregularities, including financial threats and incentives to voters” were reported.

Noting such problems in his briefing, Mr. Inzko nevertheless stressed that the joint Presidency was elected in a legal manner and must start to tackle challenges. “After the elections, the BiH [Bosnia and Herzegovina] political leaders will have an opportunity for a fresh start. They should use it to improve the lives of their citizens,” he said.

He called for urgent reform to strengthen the rule of law, support the independent functioning of governmental structures and kick-start economic development. Emerging problems like a dramatic rise in migration and backtracking in accountability for past crimes must also be faced. Those who declare European Union membership as their goal must compromise for accelerated progress in all those areas, and the international community should support them in the effort, he added.

Following that presentation and the adoption of the resolution, most Council members welcomed the renewal of EUFOR Althea as well as the mainly peaceful outcome of the 7 October elections. Most also expressed regret that needed changes had not been made in the election laws, also expressing concern that divisive rhetoric continued, and that reform was slow towards the “5+2 agenda” requirements for completion of the High Representatives’ mandate and in making reforms needed for European Union membership. Some speakers expressed particular concern over the backtracking on responsibility for war crimes, stressing the priority of justice and reconciliation in the country.

Most Council members also expressed continued support for the role and reporting of the High Representative. The Russian Federation’s representative, however, maintained that the High Representative’s reports keep getting worse, with assessments tailored to support of what he called the ongoing protectorate in Bosnia and Herzegovina and advancing a North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and European Union agenda. The international community should instead help the country find unique, compromise solutions to its complicated challenges.

Serbia’s representative, noting the challenges faced by Bosnia and Herzegovina, said that such challenges must be met through dialogue among stakeholders in that country, while he affirmed Belgrade’s readiness to improve existing levels of cooperation with the central authorities there and intensify its relations with Republic Srpska in a transparent way in accordance with the Dayton Agreement. Occasionally disruptive messages will not deter his country’s interest in working towards stability, development and good relations in the region.

The representative of Croatia, while also stressing his country’s investment in Bosnia and Herzegovina’s progress and integration into the region, argued that the equality of three constituent peoples was not respected in the recent election because Croats were deprived of the opportunity to elect their member of the Presidency, contrary to the Dayton Peace Agreement and the Constitution. He pledged Croatia’s continued readiness to assist its neighbour to improve institutional performance, make necessary reforms and meet all requirements on its path to integration in the European Union.

The representative of Bosnia and Herzegovina said he was unable to make a substantive statement pending the swearing in of the newly elected members of the Presidency on 20 November. Noting that the Presidency is, under the Constitution, responsible for foreign policy, he said its outgoing members could not reach consensus on the statement to be delivered to the Council today.

Speaking in today’s debate were also the representatives of the United Kingdom, Côte d’Ivoire, Equatorial Guinea, Peru, United States, Kazakhstan, Netherlands, Poland, France, Sweden, Ethiopia, Kuwait, Bolivia and China, as well as the European Union delegation.

The representative of the Russian Federation made an additional statement following the adoption of the resolution today, expressing disappointment that the penholder of the text had followed the alarming trend of inserting national foreign policy into drafts. No Council document should predetermine the domestic and foreign policy of a Member State, he stressed.

The meeting opened at 10:08 a.m. and closed at 12 p.m.

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