8522nd Security Council Meeting: Situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina

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08-May-2019 02:14:17
Drop destabilizing, divisive rhetoric, top United Nations official urges Bosnia and Herzegovina leaders in briefing to Security Council at 8522nd meeting.

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The senior United Nations official in Bosnia and Herzegovina urged the Federation’s leaders today to abandon destabilizing and divisive rhetoric, create governments at the local, state and federal levels, and keep the country moving forward along the path to integration with the European Union.

Valentin Inzko, High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina, presenting his latest report to the 15-member Council, said that, regrettably, no State-level Council of Ministers or new federal Government has been appointed since general elections seven months ago. Divisive and destabilizing rhetoric persists, “sometimes from the very same leaders who profess a commitment to the country’s European Union path”, he noted.

He went on to say that Milorad Dodik, Chair of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s Tripartite Presidency, continues to speak out against the country’s statehood and to threaten the secession of the Republika Srpska. He also expressed concern over the rejection by the main ethnic Croat parties of judgments handed down by international courts concerning their respective wartime leaderships.

The Republika Srpska authorities also continue to reject judgments of State and Constitutional Courts, he continued, highlighting their failure to implement decisions of the European Court of Human Rights, thereby leaving in place a system that discriminates against the right of a significant number of citizens to run for public office. “The authorities can resolve some of these issues with a simple stroke of the pen,” he emphasized.

Urging Bosnia and Herzegovina to respect the Dayton Peace Agreements and hold elections in Mostar, he stressed that it is inconceivable that a major city in a country aspiring to join the European Union has not held local elections in more than a decade.

As delegates took the floor, Poland’s representative declared: “Every day of prolonging provisional measures erodes further the trust of the electorate.” Repeated calls for secession defy “every letter of the Dayton Peace Agreements”, she added, cautioning: “We have seen in history what such a mix of pernicious rhetoric with under-the-radar-armaments may lead to.”

The United Kingdom’s representative said the divisive nationalist rhetoric that dominated the elections makes politics difficult. It is also appalling that political leaders are rejecting the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia and denying the genocide in Srebrenica, he noted, emphasizing that Bosnia and Herzegovina must demonstrate its commitment to European Union values as it aims to join the bloc.

However, the Russian Federation’s representative said the High Representative’s report is far from objective and contains negative comments about the creation of mechanism intended to deal with the large-scale increase in migration and the attendant threats, including extremism and terrorism. Also biased is the High Representative’s reporting in relation to the Republika Srpska’s establishment of mechanisms to investigate past crimes, he said. “We are convinced that the time of the external protectorate of Bosnia and Herzegovina is in the past,” he added, stressing that the Office should be closed and its budget cut.

An observer for the European Union delegation said Bosnia and Herzegovina’s slow progress hinders the implementation of much-needed reforms. Election-related issues must be addressed urgently, he added, cautioning against legislative steps that would make implementation of the European Court for Human Rights ruling on the Sejdić-Finci case more challenging. Concern also remains about the denial of genocide by elected officials, which is incompatible with integration into the European Union, he pointed out.

Serbia’s representative expressed concern that political tensions and messages that “we thought belonged to the past” have reappeared in Bosnia and Herzegovina. He expressed hope that institutions will be formed soon so that his country’s Government can partner with Bosnia and Herzegovina’s Council of Ministers as in the past.

Croatia’s representative said ethnic Croats in Bosnia and Herzegovina feel that electoral engineering deprived them of their legitimate representation in the Tripartite Presidency. “We cannot pretend that nothing happened,” he added, reiterating the necessity of electoral reform. Delay will only deepen the problem ahead of the 2020 municipal elections, he warned.

Bosnia and Herzegovina’s representative pledged her country’s full commitment to overcoming challenges in the process towards full integration into the European Union. The country has intensified efforts to implement its reform agenda and is focused on strengthening the rule of law and good governance, she said. Judicial institutions continue to process individuals involved in fighting on behalf of terrorist organizations, as well as those facilitating the recruitment of terrorist fighters. Turning to immigration, she said authorities undertaking comprehensive measures to deal with the migrant crisis are doing so in accordance with the highest European and international standards.

Others speaking today were representatives of South Africa, Côte d’Ivoire, Peru, China, Dominican Republic, Equatorial Guinea, Kuwait, Belgium, France, United States, Germany and Indonesia.

The meeting began at 10:07 a.m. and ended at 12:20 p.m.

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