Thursday, November 1, 2007


SARAJEVO, Bosnia (November 1,2007) – Political Directors of the Peace Implementation Council Steering Board met in Sarajevo on 30 and 31 October 2007.Leaders of Bosnia's governing coalition were present during parts of the meeting.

"In line with the decision taken at its June meeting, the PIC Steering Board reviewed the political situation in Bosnia. Since then, the situation in Bosnia has deteriorated further.Responsibility lies with political leaders from both entities who have blocked progress and undermined the political situation with their aggressive rhetoric. The situation is now of the utmost concern to the international community. The PIC Steering Board underscores that it is time for Bosnia's politicians to end the practice of questioning the fundamental structure of the state or its component parts," the Office of the International Community's High Representative in Bosnia (OHR) stated.

"Bosnia urgently needs reform to build the kind of modern, efficient state that can take its place in Euro-Atlantic institutions and fulfil the promise of the Dayton Peace Agreement. This can only be achieved through compromise.

However, since June, Bosnia has moved no closer to initialling a Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA) with the European Union. Some political leaders have not honoured their previous commitments to meet EU requirements. These requirements must be fulfilled if the country is to conclude an SAA. Bosnia's leaders should adopt a positive approach, based on full respect for the Dayton Peace Agreement and dialogue. The Mostar Declaration of 28 October can serve as the starting point for a positive reengagement of the government coalition parties. Concrete steps are now needed to demonstrate that this is a serious effort. If they follow-up, Bosnia would be able to progress towards conclusion of the SAA," the OHR said.

Given the lack of progress on key reforms, a focus on completing implementation of the Dayton Peace Agreement, including efforts to tackle the evident dysfunctionality of state institutions, is necessary. The PIC Steering Board fully supported this approach.

The Steering Board of the Peace Implementation Council also supported the High Representative’s decisions and proposed actions, which are fully in line with his mandate and the Bosnian Constitution.

"The only objective of these measures is to streamline the decision-making process in the Bosnian Council of Ministers and the Bosnian Parliament, and they are necessary for speeding up the reform process. Certain political leaders have overreacted to these measures in order to create a political crisis. They have also challenged the legitimacy and authority of the High Representative and Peace Implementation Council," the OHR said.

The PIC welcomed the High Representative’s initiative to provide a note explaining that the measures maintain the constitutional protection of constituent peoples and entities in Bosnia.

The PIC Steering Board reminded all signatories and parties of their obligation under Annex 10 of the Dayton Peace Agreement to cooperate fully with the International Community's High Representative in Bosnia and his staff. Decisions of the High Representative must be fully respected and promptly implemented.

The PIC Steering Board reiterated it will not remain passive in the face of provocative statements or acts. Any political leaders or institutions in Bosnia that challenge the High Representative and the PIC Steering Board will be subject to appropriate measures. The Steering Board underlined that the international community retains the necessary instruments to counter destructive tendencies and that it will not allow attempts to undermine the Dayton Peace Agreement, whether from inside or outside the country.

The Steering Board underlined that Bosnia is a recognised sovereign state whose territorial integrity is guaranteed by the Dayton Peace Agreement. The Steering Board recalled that the Bosnian Constitution recognises that Bosnia consists of two entities and that Bosniacs, Croats and Serbs are constituent peoples.

"The Steering Board of the Peace Implementation Council remains committed to the principles on which the General Framework Agreement for Peace is founded and notes that the High Representative’s measures in no way change these principles," the PIC Steering Board said.

The PIC Steering Board also re-emphasised its concern regarding suggestions that certain reforms could be reversed unilaterally by entity decisions retrieving competencies previously transferred to the state.

"An entity cannot withdraw unilaterally from a previously agreed reform. The consolidation of state-level institutions must continue," the PIC Steering Board anounced.

In this context, the Steering Board deplored the lack of progress regarding the transfer from the entities to the state of all property needed for defence purposes as required by the Bosnian Defence Law. The Steering Board stressed the urgent need to resolve this issue and requested the High Representative to engage with the parties and take appropriate measures to bring this issue to a conclusion by the end of the year.

The Steering Board also deplored the fact that state and entity authorities have failed to reach an agreement apportioning the ownership and use of state property, despite the strong appeal that they do so issued by Political Directors in June of this year. It reminded Bosnia's politicians of the urgent need to reach an agreement on this question and requests the High Representative to undertake all appropriate measures to bring this issue to a conclusion.

The Steering Board called upon Serbia, a Dayton signatory, as well as Bosnia to abide by their obligations under international law to cooperate fully with the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY), playing a proactive role in apprehending all remaining indictees, including Serbian war criminals Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic, without further delay, dismantling the networks offering support to such war crimes fugitives, and ensuring they are transferred to the ICTY.

Also in that regard, the Steering Board welcomed the steps taken by the International Community's High Representative in Bosnia to augment the capacity of the Bosnian authorities to investigate and prosecute war crimes suspects.

The PIC Steering Board will review the political situation in Bosnia at its next meeting in February 2008, which will take place in Brussels on 26 and 27 February 2008.

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