Bosnia and Herzegovina - Security Council Open VTC

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05-Nov-2020 02:27:21
Security Council extends European-led stabilization force in Bosnia and Herzegovina for 12 months, unanimously adopting Resolution 2549 (2020).

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25 Years after Historic Peace Accord Signing, Real Reforms Stalled amid Divisive Rhetoric, Threat of Succession by Main Serb Party Leader, High Representative Says

The Security Council decided to extend for one year its authorization to States working as part of the multinational stabilization force in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and heard a briefing by the high representative in that country, with voting results announced virtually in accordance with the temporary silence procedure adopted for the COVID-19 pandemic.

Unanimously adopting resolution 2549 (2020) under Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter, the 15-member Council welcomed the European Union’s readiness to maintain the military operation — known as EUFOR-ALTHEA — and authorized Member States acting through or in cooperation with it to undertake measures related to the implementation of the 1995 General Framework Agreement for Peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina, for 12 more months. It reiterated that the primary responsibility for implementing the Peace Agreement, which is also known as the Dayton Agreement, lies with all the authorities in Bosnia and Herzegovina themselves, while noting the continued willingness of the international community and major donors to lend their support.

At the meeting’s outset, Council members heard a briefing from Valentin Inzko, the High Representative and European Union Special Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina, who outlined the contents of his latest report (document S/2020/1052) and noted that November marks 25 years since the signing of the Peace Agreement in Dayton, Ohio. “As it turns out, the Dayton Agreement — while a solid framework for future development of Bosnia and Herzegovina — brought an imperfect peace,” he said. Undeniable progress has been made on the agreement’s priorities, which were to stop the bloodshed and enable future reforms. However, he said the global community also made a grave mistake by trusting some politicians too early. “They used our goodwill to reinvigorate nationalistic, divisive policies,” he said.

Since 2006 in particular, he noted, institutions in Bosnia and Herzegovina have remained blocked and there has been little progress on real reforms. Systemic discrimination against so-called “others” — citizens who do not declare themselves as members of the three constituent peoples — is common. Some politicians still ignore core European values, such as the lessons learned in the Nuremberg trials. In that regard, he echoed the recent declaration by Germany’s Foreign Minister that “there is no place in the European Union for those who glorify war criminals”, while calling for the full implementation of the country’s Revised War Crimes Processing Strategy and for the creation of a genocide denial law.

Turning to the local elections slated to be held in Bosnia and Herzegovina in 10 days, he expressed concern that some campaigns have been characterized by divisive rhetoric. Most recently, Milorad Dodik, the Serb member of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina and leader of the main Serb party, stated that Bosnia and Herzegovina is the “wrong country” and threatened that Serbs and Croats would disassociate from the nation if their new plan for how Bosnia and Herzegovina should function is not accepted. “To be clear, Mr. Dodik is talking about secession of the Republika Srpska from Bosnia and Herzegovina,” he warned.

Emphasizing that a plan already exists for how Bosnia and Herzegovina should function — the 1995 Dayton Agreement — he described statements to the contrary as irresponsible and unfounded. He went on to call for the long-overdue appointment of a new Federation Government as soon as possible, stressing that elections are meaningless if their results are not implemented. Among other issues outlined in his report, he underscored the need for Bosnia and Herzegovina to dramatically improve the rule of law, combat corruption and tackle its massive problem of “brain drain” as talented young people continue to leave the country.

He voiced regret that, despite repeated calls from the Council, little progress has been made by the authorities to implement the “5+2 Agenda” — namely, the five objectives and two conditions required before the closure of his Office. “It is in our common interest to leave behind a lasting and irreversible stability in Bosnia and Herzegovina,” he stressed, calling for a rethinking of past approaches — which included attempts at “robust interventionism” and hands-off local ownership — and instead advocating for more diversity and tolerance.

As Council members and the representatives of concerned countries delivered virtual remarks, many praised recent progress in Bosnia and Herzegovina, including the new Revised Strategy on War Crimes and preparations for upcoming local elections. However, several sounded alarms over stalled reforms in other areas, as well as instances of divisive rhetoric. Many speakers urged the parties to refrain from provocative words and actions, calling on them to instead unite in combating the greatest challenges facing the country — including corruption, radicalization and the COVID-19 pandemic.

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