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. Valentin Inzko, High Representative and Special Representative of the European Union, and thank him for his briefing and his report. Croatia has aligned itself with the statement of the EU, but allow me to deliver a statement in my national capacity as well. The report presents a worrisome picture of the post-electoral Bosnia and Herzegovina, where virtually no reforms have been implemented and the progress towards EU and NATO integration has been effectively stalled. The situation has been further exacerbated by the use of nationalistic and divisive rhetoric. In this context, we agree with the assessment that it would be premature to close the Office of the High Representative this year. Let me stress that sustainable stability of South-Eastern Europe is in Croatia's strategic interest. A clear Euro-Atlantic perspective is necessary for the whole region, and we believe that progress towards the Euro-Atlantic integration is a precondition for the long-term stability of Bosnia and Herzegovina and all countries in South-Eastern Europe. We firmly support Bosnia and Herzegovina in implementing the necessary reforms, and we have invested a lot of effort in offering our assistance and experience on its 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. Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina maintain close relationship as two neighboring and friendly countries which have common interests in many different areas. This has been exemplified by a series of high-level visits, the last of which occurred three months ago when the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina visited Zagreb and held meetings with President Ivo Josipovic and Prime Minister Jadranka Kosor. In addition, Croatian President and Prime Minister issued three joint statements in which they emphasized Croatia's support to Bosnia and Herzegovina on its Euro-Atlantic path and confirmed its responsible policy towards Bosnia and Herzegovina as a neighboring sovereign country in which Croats are a constitutive people. These joint statements, and high-level visits of Croatian leaders, represent a strong encouragement to Bosnia and Herzegovina and to the principle of equality of all constituent peoples and citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Croatia also supports the return of refugees to the country, primarily to Republika Srpska. Croatia has expressed concern with the ongoing political crisis in Bosnia and Herzegovina which threatens to deteriorate the relations in the Federation and to block the formation of government at the State level. Croatia regards the territorial integrity, sovereignty, and the equality of the three constitutive peoples as the basic preconditions for the country's stability and sustainability. Therefore, Croatia believes that, notwithstanding the current impasse in the government formation, all parties in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the international community should strive to agree on a set of constitutional amendments which would move the country forward towards Europe, while preserving full equality for all constitutive peoples, as well as for all the citizens, applied throughout the territory of Bosnia and Herzegovina. We are concerned by the fact that the political option that at present enjoys support of the vast majority of Bosnian Croats is not represented at all political levels. It is hard to imagine a lasting constitutional reform that would make the country more effective and functional without the participation of the political option enjoying widest popular support in one of the three constitutive peoples of Bosnia and Herzegovina. There should be no alternative to a structured political dialogue and no effort should be spared to reach legitimate solutions. All important decisions in Bosnia and Herzegovina, especially those with potentially far-reaching consequences, should be made through consensus of all three constitutive peoples. Otherwise, we may witness two entities, each dominated by a single people, increasingly drifting apart. There is also a potential of losing precious time to implement the needed pro-European reforms. In this respect, we echo previous speakers who have expressed serious concern regarding the unilateral decision by Republika Srpska to hold a referendum on challenging the authority of state judicial institutions and rejecting the authority and past decisions of the High Representative. We believe this decision should be reversed, as it undermines the constitutional structure of the country and could undo the positive developments achieved since the entry into force of the Dayton Peace Agreement. If the referendum moves forward, it may foster new tensions in the country and the region. Croatia underscores that all Parties should respect the Dayton Peace Agreement and acts of the High Representative taken with the approval of the Security Council acting under the authority of Chapter VII of the UN Charter. Finally, the fight against impunity for war crimes is crucial for the normalization of the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The two remaining fugitives, Ratko Mladic and Goran Hadžic, indicted for the most atrocious crimes committed in Bosnia and Herzegovina and in Croatia, must be brought to justice. Otherwise, the mandate of the ICTY and its legacy in the region cannot be declared complete. Thank you, Mr. President.