Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield
U.S. Representative to the United Nations
New York, New York
May 4, 2021
Thank you very much, President, and congratulations on your assumption of the chair. I wish you the best of luck during this month. And, again, thank you to our colleague from Vietnam for an extraordinary month in April. Let me just start by thanking High Representative Inzko for your tireless service in the months since your last briefing to the UN, and over the tenure of your service.
The U.S. position on the Dayton Peace Accords, and Bosnia and Herzegovina’s future as a single state destined for the Euro-Atlantic community, remains unchanged. We are committed to the principles of Dayton – that Bosnia and Herzegovina is a democratic, multi-ethnic, sovereign, and independent state with unquestioned territorial integrity. There is no future for either of the entities outside of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The United States supports the essential role of the High Representative in monitoring and supporting the implementation of civilian aspects of the Dayton Peace Accords. Bosnia and Herzegovina must meet the specific criteria established by the Peace Implementation Council – the 5+2 Agenda – in order to graduate from international supervision. Now is the time for renewed focus and action toward completing this agenda. That means – first and foremost – tackling the rampant corruption that threatens the rule of law in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Right now, corrupt politicians, a judiciary under political influence, public offices that promote personal or party interests, and state-owned enterprises that prioritize patronage, all enable corruption to thrive. The result: the country is losing its talented young people – as you heard from the High Representative this morning. They are immigrating to countries where they have greater opportunities, where they will be rewarded for their hard work, and where governments can be counted on to protect their rights and be responsive to their needs.
The only solution is for Bosnia and Herzegovina’s politicians to strengthen their institutions and laws that fight crime and safeguard human rights and fundamental freedoms. Bosnia and Herzegovina must be willing to adopt international legislative standards to ensure agencies are sufficiently funded and are autonomous. Specifically, we agree with the High Representative that the adoption of the Brcko District Law on the Prevention of Conflict of Interest can serve as a model.
After corruption, the second main obstacle to progress is politicians who focus narrowly on ethnonationalist goals. The people of Bosnia and Herzegovina should question why major party leaders are more focused on rhetorical battles than achievable reforms like fighting corruption and discrimination or improving the economy and the electoral process. There are no elections in Bosnia and Herzegovina in 2021, and – as Secretary Blinken noted in his letter to the Bosnia and Herzegovina Presidency – that presents an opportunity to make necessary electoral and constitutional reforms.
It’s time to move Bosnia and Herzegovina closer to EU standards while also addressing rulings by the European Court of Human Rights. The United States, along with others in the international community, will do all we can to promote compromise on a package deal among the parties in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Finally, to prepare for elections in 2022, we are urging officials in Bosnia and Herzegovina to address the election integrity recommendations of the OSCE’s Office of Democratic Institutions and Human Rights and the Group of States against Corruption.
Everyone deserves to know that their vote counts. This includes the people of Bosnia and Herzegovina. So, we agree with the High Representative that the Federation government should be formed without delay. And we look forward to full satisfaction of previously established objectives and conditions for the closure of the Office of the High Representative.
Let me end, again, by thanking Mr. Insko for his extraordinary efforts and commitment to the people of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Thank you very much, Mr. President.