Thank you very much, Madam President, and congratulations to you on the assumption of the presidency this month. I would like to thank High Representative Inzko for your very frank update on the developments in Bosnia and Herzegovina. We greatly appreciate the work of the Office of the High Representative to help the country achieve greater peace and prosperity and strengthen security and stability in the region.
The United States affirms our strong support to you, High Representative, for your mandate as the final authority under the Dayton Peace Accords on the civilian implementation of the agreement. We thank you for your dedicated service, and we express our firm commitment to upholding the Dayton Accords, maintaining the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and promoting continued Euro-Atlantic integration.
Bosnia and Herzegovina’s commitment to Euro-Atlantic values remains critical. Both NATO and the EU have indicated that their doors remain open if Bosnia fulfills its responsibilities under the Dayton Peace Accords and is willing to do the hard work to meet their standards for membership. The United States urges further progress towards integration with both NATO and the EU, which will require stronger political resolve and dedication. We commend the continued work of EUFOR’s Operation Althea and NATO to promote security and capacity building in Bosnia and Herzegovina. We recognize the authorities’ handover of answers to the EC Questionnaire in February and view it as an important step towards the country’s integration with Europe.
Nonetheless, the United States is concerned with the recent uptick in divisive, nationalist rhetoric in Bosnia and Herzegovina. This threatens to exacerbate divisions and sow conflict, the exact opposite of what the Dayton Peace Accords and subsequent reform efforts set out to achieve. We urge all parties in Bosnia and Herzegovina to embrace key political, socio-economic, and electoral reforms, and work to enhance the rule of law, tackle corruption, and improve the overall political climate in the country for the benefit of all its citizens. Looking ahead to general elections in October, we urge Bosnia and Herzegovina to adopt and implement electoral reforms, especially those addressing the so-called “Ljubic” ruling.
These reforms are vital to holding free, fair, and transparent elections and to maintaining the stability that the country has worked so hard to achieve. Without these reforms, it may be much more difficult to form a government after the elections, which will complicate efforts to build a secure, stable, and prosperous future for the country.
We share many of the concerns voiced by the High Representative in his report on Bosnia and Herzegovina, including about actions that could weaken the rule of law, destabilizing rhetoric from political leaders that allude to a break-up of the state, and hypothetical comments about future war. This Council must remain alert to actions and rhetoric that seek to undermine and threaten the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Bosnia and Herzegovina – its two entities and three constituent peoples.
Madam President, the United States looks forward to a time when Bosnia and Herzegovina satisfies the objectives and conditions for the closure of the Office of the High Representative, as established by the Peace Implementation Council. When that day comes, we will be able to say with confidence that Bosnia and Herzegovina has fully implemented its responsibilities under the Dayton Peace Accords and is irreversibly on course for European integration.
Until then, we encourage Bosnia and Herzegovina’s leaders, as well as the international community, to support the reforms needed to reach that milestone and to maintain their commitment to the Office of the High Representative as it works to assure the success of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Thank you very much.