8658th Security Council Meeting: Situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina

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05-Nov-2019 02:14:48
Security Council extends european-led stabilization force in Bosnia and Herzegovina for one year, unanimously adopting Resolution 2496 (2019) at 8658th meeting.

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The Security Council today renewed its authorization of the European-led multinational stabilization force (EUFOR-Althea) in Bosnia and Herzegovina for another year, while urging parties there to proceed with forming a Government and to refrain from any polarizing unconstructive policy, action or rhetoric.

Unanimously adopting resolution 2496 (2019) ahead of a briefing and debate on the same topic, the 15-member Council urged the parties to prioritize the implementation of comprehensive reforms, in line with Bosnia and Herzegovina’s stated European perspective. It further urged them to commit to cooperate fully with all institutions involved in the implementation of the 1995 General Framework Agreement for Peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina — known as the Dayton Peace Agreement.

Valentin Inzko, High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina, said efforts to build a political coalition and form Government authorities — as reported during his last briefing to the Council — have now failed. The State is without a newly-appointed Council of Ministers, and the Federation is without a new Government. “We must recognize backsliding when it occurs, and in such instances, acknowledge that [the United Nations] mission is not yet complete,” he said, also citing a politically calculated and unnecessary blockade of the Parliamentary Assembly under which no legislation, or a State budget, can be passed.

He recalled that, in May, the European Commission set out key areas in which the country must improve to move towards European Union membership. “This should have been a milestone on Bosnia and Herzegovina’s European path,” he said. The country is moving away from the agenda’s implementation, not towards it, and its failure to prioritize anti-corruption efforts is contributing to “brain drain” which has led nearly half of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s population to seek opportunities abroad. Voicing concern about negative political rhetoric — such as support for separatist tendencies — he also rejected a trend towards revisionism and outright denialism of past genocides, including the 1994 Srebrenica massacre.

Briefing the Council via video-teleconference from Sarajevo was Selma Korjenić, Head of Programme-Bosnia and Herzegovina for the non-governmental organization TRIAL International. Noting that the group fights impunity for international crimes and supports victims, she said many of the repercussions of the war that ended in Bosnia and Herzegovina 24 years ago are still not being handled in a satisfactory way. That includes bringing war criminals to justice, satisfying the needs of victims and their families and reconciling peoples and communities. Echoing concern about perverse nationalist rhetoric that denies the commission of serious crimes — along with the increased glorification of criminals — she stressed that “three generations have now tasted the poison of hatred”, with very little being done to prevent a recurrence.

As Council members and countries of the region took the floor, several expressed shock over the briefers’ accounts of rising ethnic tensions, inflammatory rhetoric, the denial of war crimes and the glorification of their perpetrators. Some demanded that Bosnia and Herzegovina’s leaders take action to combat those trends, while others called on the Council itself to stop the country’s backward slide.

The representative of Belgium joined several other speakers in welcoming the Council’s unanimous renewal of EUFOR-Althea, which contributes to the goal of a united, multi-ethnic Bosnia and Herzegovina and the stability of the region. Voicing his support for that country’s integration into the European Union, he nevertheless expressed concern about its political impasse. “Bosnia and Herzegovina chose the path of Euro-Atlantic integration,” he said, expressing worries about serious deficiencies in respect for the rule of law. Warning that fair, stable and lasting peace will not be possible unless justice is served, he said true reconciliation also requires measures to combat impunity and prosecute war criminals.

The European Union’s delegate, echoing expressions of concern about the lack of a formed Government in Bosnia and Herzegovina, said the current state of affairs raises questions about the willingness of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s political leaders to fulfil the aspirations of their fellow citizens to join the bloc. Urging them to uphold their responsibilities and to refrain from nationalist and provocative rhetoric, he also stressed that historical revisionism and the glorification of war criminals contradicts European values and runs counter to the prospect of European integration.

The representative of Côte d’Ivoire underlined his delegation’s concern about Bosnia and Herzegovina’s institutional deadlock, as well as bellicose rhetoric by some parties and ongoing ethnic tensions. Calling on the country’s leaders to unite around the goal of a diverse, competitive and multi-ethnic nation as part of the European Union, he said institutional reforms will help boost the national economy, create jobs and combat brain drain. “The challenges facing Bosnia and Herzegovina are not unsurmountable,” he stressed, calling on stakeholders to coordinate in addressing them.

The representative of the Russian Federation, striking a different tone, questioned the accuracy of the information provided by the High Representative. Citing the latter’s chronic bias against Bosnian Serbs and Croats, he warned against finding artificial arguments to maintain the presence of the High Representative’s Office, “which has outlived its use”. Calling on Mr. Inzko to stick to his mandate — instead of lobbying for European Union integration — he pointed out that that process lacks consensus support in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

That country’s own delegate welcomed the extension of EUFOR-Althea’s mandate, while pledging Sarajevo’s commitment to participate in the United Nations and join the European Union. While challenges lie ahead, the country is making progress in socioeconomic reforms and strengthening the rule of law. Also outlining efforts to foster regional cooperation and counter terrorism, he emphasized that his country is increasingly dependent on global economic performance and is working to stem the outflow of young, skilled and educated people.

Also speaking were the representatives of Germany, Peru, Poland, Kuwait, South Africa, Indonesia, Equatorial Guinea, China, France, United States, Dominican Republic, United Kingdom, Croatia and Serbia.

The meeting began at 10:01 a.m. and ended at 12:16 p.m.

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2493867
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2494474