UN Security Council Debate on Bosnia and Herzegovina

Stalni predstavnik RH pri Ujedinjenim narodima, veleposlanik Ranko Vilovic, održao je govor na javnoj raspravi Vijeca sigurnosti UN-a o stanju u Bosni i Hercegovini.

At the outset, allow me to extend my welcome to His Excellency Mr. Nikola špiric, Chairman of the Council of Ministers of Bosnia and Herzegovina. We congratulate Bosnia and Herzegovina for being elected as a non-permanent member of the Security Council. We also welcome the High Representative and Special Representative of the European Union (EU), His Excellency Mr. Valentin Inzko, and thank him for his briefing today, the second in his new role. I wish to assure him of Croatia's full support in the conduct of his duties and wish him every success in fulfilling his mandate. Croatia has aligned itself with the statement to be delivered by Sweden on behalf of the European Union. Here, I wish to make some additional comments. Croatia strongly supports the clear and unambiguous European and Euro-Atlantic perspective of Bosnia and Herzegovina, as emphasized by recent high level visits. We believe that the future of all countries of South-East Europe belongs in the European Union, which provides the most suitable framework for their overall development. We also support the official application by Bosnia and Herzegovina to join NATO's Membership Action Plan. Last year, important progress has enabled Bosnia and Herzegovina to sign the Stabilization and Association Agreement with the European Union. However, we note with regret that the report before us states that Bosnia and Herzegovina has made little progress towards implementing internal reforms, even some regression, as well as the priorities and conditions which are required for progress on the Euro-Atlantic agenda. We are concerned with the ongoing attacks against State institutions, competencies and laws, perpetrated mainly by the leadership of Republika Srpska, as well as the continued challenges to the authority of the High Representative and the Peace Implementation Council [PIC]. In particular, we are concerned with the High Representative's assessment of the current situation in the country, where “nationalist, anti-Dayton rhetoric challenging the constitutional order has played a role” in the reporting period. We agree with the assessment that not all outstanding requirements have been met so that the transition from the Office of the High Representative to the European Union Special Representative can take place. We support the High Representative and share his assessments. On the other hand, we believe that Bosnia and Herzegovina should continue and accelerate reforms and the adoption of visa-liberalization related laws, in order to be admitted to the “White Schengen” list as soon as possible, so that its citizens do not lag too far behind other neighbors. It has been our long-standing position that the impasse in Bosnia and Herzegovina can be overcome only through a comprehensive and inclusive dialogue, which includes all three constituent peoples throughout the entire territory of the country. This is closely linked with the reforms needed to bring Bosnia and Herzegovina closer to the path of integration with the European Union and will also facilitate the fulfillment of the country's other international obligations. It is particularly important that the current dialogue on constitutional reforms intensify, with the committed engagement of the international community and with support assured to the High Representative. Bosnia and Herzegovina is facing considerable problems, some of which are challenging its very foundations as established by the Dayton Peace Agreement. However, it should be stressed that any constructive engagement that supports the territorial integrity of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and any intention to improve the current situation and remedy the fundamental problems should be welcomed and encouraged. In this regard, we welcome last week's decision to extend the mandate of EUFOR. On this point, we wish to reiterate that the country's stability depends on respect for the constitutional principle of the collective equality of all three constituent peoples: Bosniacs, Bosnian Serbs and Bosnian Croats. We have stated on several occasions that there cannot be a Bosnia and Herzegovina without Croats in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Their political and cultural survival is vital for the continued existence of Bosnia and Herzegovina, as these two elements are closely intertwined. One needs to keep in mind the particular situation of Croats in Bosnia and Herzegovina as the smallest and most vulnerable group of the country's three nations. Their voice must be considered on the basis of equality, both ethnic and civic, as guaranteed in the Constitution, and as stemming from the history of the country. All three peoples must feel that Bosnia and Herzegovina is their country, and they should feel safe and protected over its entire territory. Their fundamental rights and freedoms, as well as their civic and ethnic rights, should be protected throughout, and the right to return to their pre-war homes should be safe and protected. Another important factor in the normalization of the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina is the fight against impunity for war crimes. We wish to stress that all fugitives from the International Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia who are still at large must be arrested and transferred to the Hague as soon as possible. Finally, let me conclude that Croatia, together with the rest of the international community, is offering the peoples of Bosnia and Herzegovina a clear and unambiguous European and Euro-Atlantic perspective. In that regard, we urge all three peoples to invest their highest efforts in Butmir process which represents so far the biggest opportunity for real progress in Bosnia and Herzegovina. As a country that joined NATO recently and that is undergoing a very demanding but also rewarding process of negotiations with the European Union, Croatia can testify that strong central institutions are fundamental to the process of Euro-Atlantic integration. As a neighboring state we are very much interested that Bosnia and Herzegovina embarks on this process as soon as possible. We regard it as the best guarantee for sustainable peace, security and prosperity for the country, the region, and all of Europe.