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. Haris Silajdžic, Bosnia and Herzegovina Presidency Chairman. My Delegation is particularly pleased that, for the first time, his country is participating in this debate as a member of the Security Council. We also welcome the High Representative and Special Representative of the European Union, His Excellency Mr. Valentin Inzko and thank him for his briefing. The report he presented reflects challenges and complexities of the situation. I would also like to reaffirm Croatia's full and continued support for him and his Office, and to express our appreciation for personal effort he invests in carrying out this mission. Croatia has aligned itself with the statement 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. Our support and commitment to the European perspective for Bosnia and Herzegovina, as to all the countries of South-East Europe, was formalized by delivering our translation of Acquis Communautaire to the Prime Ministers in March this year, during the Croatian-Slovenian Regional Conference in Brdo near Kranj. We believe that the membership in the European Union is the future of all countries of the South-East Europe, as the most suitable framework for their overall development. We also warmly welcomed a recent invitation extended by NATO to Bosnia and Herzegovina to join its Membership Action Plan, a step that Croatia was strongly and actively supporting. For Croatia, the territorial integrity, sovereignty and the equality of the three constitutive peoples are the basic preconditions for the country's stability and sustainability. Assisting Bosnia and Herzegovina in reaching sustainable stability and functionality is one of our regional priorities. As we just heard, the authorities of Bosnia and Herzegovina have made a significant progress in the area of visa liberalisation requirements. Croatia is strongly convinced that this progress should be recognized and hopes to see the visa liberalisation implemented in the course of this year. The citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina deserve the same privileges as the citizens of other countries of the region. Any delay would only benefit to those advocating a status quo, and peoples and citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina would continue to bear the consequences beyond their direct responsibilities. Stability, security and progress of South-East Europe are in Croatia's strategic interest. We firmly support all the countries of the region in their reforms and we offer them our assistance and share our experience on their EU and NATO integration path. Following the success of Zagreb Summit we believe that it is a ripe time to re-energize the process. Thus, we look forward to the upcoming Conference to be held in Sarajevo on June 2nd, marking the 10th anniversary of Zagreb Summit and bringing together ministers of foreign affairs of the EU and the region, as an additional impetus for Bosnia and Herzegovina to continue more energetically with the necessary reforms and furthering its prospects for its Euro-Atlantic integration. However, Bosnia and Herzegovina continues to face considerable problems, some of which are challenging its very foundations as established by the Dayton Peace Agreement. Regretfully, we heard that in most of other areas only a limited progress was noted, and some serious challenges were raised by the Authorities of the Republika Srpska to the state institutions, their functioning, as well as to the authority of the High Representative. Croatia urges the political leaders in Bosnia and Herzegovina to find strength and reach compromise on issues key for a sustainable future of the country, its peoples and citizens. There will be no progress without a consensus - which has to come from “within”, and which Croatia, together with other friends of Bosnia and Herzegovina, strongly advocates. Croatia calls that the negotiations on the constitutional reform be continued as soon as the new authorities are formed after the October elections. Further delays of the constitutional reform can have long-term consequences for the country's future, the constitutional reform being a key precondition for a successful Euro-Atlantic integration. Croatia advocates the constitutional amendments which would provide full equality for all constitutive peoples as well as for all the citizens, applied throughout the territory of Bosnia and Herzegovina. In this process, the political views of the representatives of the three constitutional peoples should be valued equally, as the country's stability depends on respect for the constitutional principle of the collective equality of all three constituent peoples: Bosniaks, Serbs and Croats, as well as of all the citizens. 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. Given a singular position of Croats in Bosnia and Herzegovina, as the smallest and most vulnerable group, it is all the more important that its voice 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. Fight against impunity for war crimes is yet another important factor in the normalization of the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Croatia firmly believes that the mandate of the ICTY cannot be declared complete without bringing to justice the two remaining fugitives, Ratko Mladic and Goran Hadžic, indicted for the most atrocious crimes committed in Bosnia and Herzegovina and in Croatia. Further, it is also important that at the same time national courts fulfill their lasting responsibility and address other war crime cases. In such circumstances, Croatia believes that it would be premature to begin with the closure of the Office of High Representative this year. In this regard, Croatia is concerned with the general sense of a fatigue of the international community and believes that its strong commitment is still very much needed in order to help improve conditions that will move the current situation forward and help remedy the remaining fundamental problems. Before closing, I would like to reiterate that Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina enjoy a very close, friendly and cordial relationship on many levels. Strong Croatian support has been duly recognised by Bosnia and Herzegovina, and manifested by the intense and frequent communication on the highest level, underscored by a number of visits exchange, noted in the Report: over the past months, both President Josipovic and Prime Minister Kosor visited Sarajevo, while the Chairman of the Council of Ministers visited Zagreb. The Government of Croatia and the Council of Ministers of Bosnia and Herzegovina are preparing a joint session which should take place next month. We therefore believe that the observation made in paragraph 20 of Secretary-General's report, implying strained political relations, was surely inadvertently imprecise. Thank you, Mr. President.