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.

Mr. President, At the outset, allow me to extend my welcome to His Excellency Mr. Nebojša Radmanovic, Bosnia and Herzegovina Presidency Chairman. We are also pleased to see again among us His Excellency Mr. Valentin Inzko, High Representative and Special Representative of the European Union, and thank him for his briefing. The report he presented accurately reflects recent developments in Bosnia and Herzegovina. I would like to use this opportunity to reaffirm Croatia's full and continued support for him and his Office. Having in mind the existing shortcomings in addressing the remaining objectives and conditions, as well as continuing challenges to the very foundations of Bosnia and Herzegovina as established by the Dayton Peace Agreement, we agree with the assessment that it would be premature to begin with the closure of the Office of High Representative this year. I would like to make three brief points. Firstly, we welcome the fact that the October elections were free and fair, and generally organized in accordance with democratic principles and international standards. Croatia believes that elected individuals and political parties should enter into constructive dialogue on the formation of new governments at all levels, so as to continue, as soon as possible, with the process of reforms needed for Euro-Atlantic integration. Negotiations on the constitutional reform should be continued in the post-electoral period. Croatia reiterates its call to the political leaders in Bosnia and Herzegovina to find strength and reach compromise on key issues. Assisting Bosnia and Herzegovina in reaching sustainable stability and functionality is one of our regional priorities. However, there will be no progress without a consensus, which has to originate from within and enjoy support of regional actors and the international community. 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. Therefore, 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. Secondly, Croatia's strategic interest is the stability, security and progress of South-East Europe. We are pleased with the recognition in the report of the improved political environment in relations between countries in the region. I would like to reiterate that Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina enjoy a close and friendly relationship in many aspects. The high-level visits of both President Josipovic and Prime Minister Kosor represent a strong encouragement to Bosnia and Herzegovina and to Croats in Bosnia and Herzegovina, including to their viable return to the country, primarily to Republika Srpska. In this vein, Croatia strongly supports the clear and unambiguous European and Euro-Atlantic perspective of Bosnia and Herzegovina. We firmly support all the countries of the region in their reforms, and we have invested a lot of effort in offering them our assistance and experience on their EU and NATO integration path. We believe that the membership in the European Union represents the most suitable framework for the overall development of all countries of the South-East Europe. Therefore, we are particularly pleased with the recent decision of the Council of European Union on the abolition of the visa requirement for the citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina holding biometric passports. This is a welcome step which not only brings real benefits to the people, but also may reverse the trend of Bosnia and Herzegovina lagging behind other countries in the region in its rapproachment to the European Union. On the other hand, we regret that the invitation extended by NATO to Bosnia and Herzegovina to join its Membership Action Plan, a step that Croatia was strongly and actively supporting, has not been followed by the start of its Annual National Programme. We call on the authorities of Bosnia and Herzegovina to take all necessary measures in order to fulfil requirements regarding state property. Thirdly, as we have stated on many occasions, 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. Croats in Bosnia and Herzegovina are the smallest and most vulnerable group, and their voice should 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. Croats should have the equal right to participate in the decision-making process and should not be outvoted, especially at the level of Federation. Finally, the fight against impunity for war crimes is crucial for the normalization of the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The mandate of the ICTY should not 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. It is also important that national courts fulfill their lasting responsibility and address other war crime cases. Thank you, Mr. President.