Ambassador Kelly Craft
U.S. Mission to the United Nations
New York, New York
May 6, 2020
Thank you, Sven. And you know, it’s really refreshing to hear all the comments about the youth and it was really great to have this conversation this morning with Valentin, just to be able to discuss, personally, the youth and the importance of the movement and making certain that they too understand their engagement and their contribution to the future of the country. So, it was nice to hear Indonesia and Germany talk about the importance of the youth and I think that’s, in any country, vitally important. And, obviously, Valentin, as we discussed this morning, your representation for the international community is much appreciated and has made such a huge difference in the trajectory of the country. I personally offer you our gratitude from the Trump Administration.
The U.S. envisions a modern, multi-ethnic, stable, and prosperous democracy in Bosnia and Herzegovina – one that is responsible for its own destiny. Valentin, your latest reports demonstrates that while there are encouraging signs, there is still much work to do – and that is another thing that you were very honest about this morning – whether it is to move the country forward from the 2018 General Elections, or prepare for the upcoming municipal elections.
Regardless of when these elections are called, institutional work can be done right now to ensure the transparent execution of elections. We strongly support your mandate under the Dayton Accords as the final authority on the civilian aspects of the Peace Agreement. Further, we commend the continued work of EUFOR Operation Althea and its role in preserving a safe and secure environment.
Bosnia and Herzegovina, much like the world, has had to take extraordinary measures to combat and mitigate the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Political and institutional leaders in Bosnia and Herzegovina have cooperated in the response efforts – proof that the government can function and govern in a manner that serves the people when there is the will to do so. Efforts to combat the pandemic and mitigate its effects must continue to be well-designed and precisely targeted, and they must fully adhere to the country’s constitutional and legal framework.
Bosnia and Herzegovina’s leaders must take steps toward political reconciliation, and they must also implement long overdue reforms – including ensuring fiscal sustainability, tackling corruption, and addressing organized crime. We encourage the swift adoption of the state-level budget for 2020, as it remains a precondition for holding elections in Bosnia and Herzegovina – elections that are currently slated for October. Should these elections be delayed due to the pandemic, we must not lose sight of the goal of free and fair elections that reflect the will of the people.
The United States objects in the strongest terms to efforts undertaken by malign actors to exploit the political landscape in Bosnia and Herzegovina for personal, political, and financial gain. Nationalist leaders continue to deny war crimes and glorify convicted war criminals. Senior political figures and certain segments of society are increasingly challenging the rulings of international tribunals, which are charged with prosecuting serious violations of international humanitarian law.
External actors continue to target Bosnia and Herzegovina’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, and malevolent actors look to undermine state-level institutions. These attitudes and actions pose a serious and credible threat to the prospects of lasting reconciliation in the country.
The Trump Administration is committed to assisting the people of Bosnia and Herzegovina in their pursuit of a more free, just, and democratic society. Bosnia and Herzegovina must continue to stay the course towards European integration and trans-Atlantic cooperation. We look forward to full satisfaction of previously agreed objectives and conditions for the closure of the Office of the High Representative. These objectives can most assuredly be achieved – and in the process, the security, the stability, and the prosperity of Bosnia and Herzegovina will be greatly enhanced.