Tuesday, May 20, 2008


NEW YORK, USA (May 20,2008) - Although important progress had been made in Bosnia, the international community’s job there was not complete,the International Community's High Representative and EU Special Representative in Bosnia Miroslav Lajcak, said in a briefing to the UN Security Council yesterday.He said that over the last six months, the situation had improved considerably as Bosnia had taken a significant step towards stabilizing the political situation by adopting two police reform laws. The country is also on the verge of signing a Stabilization and Association Agreement with the European Union and moving towards membership in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). Its Peace Implementation Council Steering Board had reached consensus on a set of five objectives and two conditions, the fulfilment of which would end the High Representative’s tenure and trigger a transition to a European Union Special Representative.

Lajcak noted, however, that following Kosovo’s unilateral declaration of independence, the political representatives of the Serbians living in Bosnia had officially linked their future with that of Kosovo,and their,so called, "Alliance of Independent Social Democrats" (SNSD) had called for "the right" to self-determination for the genocidal Serbian creature in Bosnia "RS".

Lajcak (who wholeheartedly supports Serbian fascism and the very existence of the genocidal Serbian creature in Bosnia "RS"),said,however,the Office of the International Community's High Representatives in Bosnia (OHR) had responded by stressing that Bosnia is an internationally recognized State and from which there was no right to secede.

Warning that nationalism remained strong in Bosnia, and that the forthcoming municipal election campaign would lead to a rise in inflammatory rhetoric, he said: "We have come a long way. The prospect of European Union integration - the only positive alternative for Bosnia’s future - is advancing. We need to ensure that the leaders of Bosnia make the most of this opportunity. The citizens of Bosnia deserve a European future. They must have full confidence that we are here to help."

At the end of November 2007, negotiations with the main political party leaders in bosnia had resulted in an agreement to improve the efficiency of voting procedures in the Bosnian State Parliament and the Bosnian Government, Lajcak said. The six party leaders had reached agreement on police reform known as the Mostar Agreement and Action Plan. The European Union had welcomed that agreement by initialling the Stabilization and Association Agreement on 4 December,2007, with full signature remaining conditional upon parliamentary adoption of the two police reform laws. Despite their rejection by one of the leading Bosnian parties, the bosnian State Parliament had finally passed the two laws on 16 April 2008. That had been followed by a recommendation to European Union member States to proceed with signing the agreement, the ceremony for which would take place on 16 June.

He said the Peace Implementation Council Steering Board had met in February to focus on defining a conditions-based strategy for the transition from the Office of the High Representative to a European Union Special Representative and agreed on a strategy based on five objectives and two conditions. The five objectives that Bosnia would need to deliver were: acceptable and sustainable resolution on state property; acceptable and sustainable resolution of defence property; completion of the Brcko Final Award; fiscal sustainability; and entrenchment of the rule of law. The conditions to be met were signing the Stabilization and Association Agreement with the EU, and a positive assessment of the situation by the Peace Implementation Council Steering Board.

Also making statements were the representatives of China, Belgium, Italy, Russian Federation, Croatia, Indonesia, Costa Rica, Viet Nam, South Africa, Burkina Faso, Libya, United States, Panama, United Kingdom, Slovenia (on behalf of the European Union and associated countries) and the genocidal Serbia.

LIU ZHENMIN ( China) said Bosnia had taken positive measures on police reform, economical reform, and national integration since last year, though elements of instability continued to exist and the situation remained volatile and sensitive. Bosnia was uniquely vulnerable to political instability in the region and Kosovo’s unilateral declaration of independence had had a negative impact in the country.

Urging all parties concerned to keep their eyes on the country’s long-term stability and that of the Balkan region, he expressed the hope that they would all work together in accordance with the Dayton Agreement, and achieve greater progress in constitutional reform and institution-building. China welcomed the prospect of the country’s integration into the European Union and the High Representative should continue to prompt Bosnia to take constructive measures towards joining the regional bloc.

OLIVIER BELLE (Belgium), associating himself with the statement to be made by Slovenia on behalf of the European Union, said much progress had been achieved in Bosnia but there were still many challenges to be faced. Belgium agreed that unilateral constitutional reform would not be advisable, since the main communities remained diametrically opposed, and pragmatism should reign. Belgium reiterated its full support for the provisions of the Dayton Agreement and the position of the High Representative.

MARCELLO SPATAFORA ( Italy) said that, despite many difficulties, Bosnia was moving ahead. Peaceful and constructive interaction in society had been strengthened and the situation had improved noticeably, with the country having taken significant steps towards stabilizing the political situation. Kosovo’s declaration of independence had not had a significant impact. The parties had reached agreement on police reform and the Stabilization and Association Agreement would soon be signed. NATO had launched intensified dialogue with Bosnia and the Bosnian Government was moving steadily in the right direction.

Despite that progress, however, many concerns must still be addressed as tensions continued to flare periodically, he said. Constitutional reform was a priority, but the principal of ownership must be upheld. Decisive progress could be achieved on the five objectives and two conditions. Now that the Stabilization and Association Agreement had been ‘green-lighted’, a positive overall assessment of the Peace Implementation Council Steering Board seemed closer. Italy hoped the virtues of dialogue and compromise would prevail in the coming months. Building the rule of law was the only guarantee that Bosnia would be a reliable partner of the international community.

VITALY I. CHURKIN (Russian Federation),
noting recent agreements on parameters for police reform and parliamentary actions, said the major tasks stemming from the Dayton Agreements, on the whole, had been achieved. That said, the major imperative must remain a policy to transfer authority in Bosnia from international structures to legally elected national authorities. The Russian Federation would continue to support the Office of the High Representative.

He went on to express his country’s hope that the Steering Board would not procrastinate and impose conditions, especially as the situation in Bosnia was no worse than elsewhere in the region where, in fact, there were no high representatives. Moves to turn away from joint governance and towards a third Balkan entity contravened the Dayton Agreements. The situation had improved after the difficulties of last year, giving every reason to believe that future progress was assured.

NEVEN JURICA ( Croatia), welcoming Bosnia’s progress towards integration into Euro-Atlantic institutions, reiterated the necessity of a transparent and common approach towards the countries in Southern Europe. When taking into consideration the complex political circumstances within Bosnia and tensions over Kosovo, the adoption of the two police reform laws was a welcome event, as was the agreement between the State and the entities on moveable defence property, which had led to intensified dialogue with NATO.

He said constitutional reform was essential for the future of Bosnia, but the parties must be open and flexible in order to afford all of the country’s people the feeling that their future and ethnic well-being were assured. The Croatians living in Bosnia were the smallest constituency and their interests must be kept in mind and protected. Croatia called on Serbia to meet its legal obligation to arrest war criminals Mladić and Karadžić and transfer them to the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia.

Noting that his own country was finalizing its integration into NATO and the European Union, he said negotiations required hard work on the part of the State Administration. Bosnia would be a beneficiary of Croatia’s EU integration as the latter would be sharing its experience and knowledge. As for unresolved problems of defining Croatia’s borders with Serbia and its plan to build a bridge, which will block Bosnia’s access to the open sea.

HASAN KLEIB ( Indonesia)
welcomed the incremental progress made towards fulfilling the Stabilization and Association Agreement, as demonstrated by the signing of legislation on police reform, which was part and parcel of security-sector reform. Further progress in strengthening the rule of law was crucial to the country’s stability and development. While Indonesia welcomed the High Representative’s continued efforts to forge cooperation with the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, it nevertheless must be coupled with other major efforts to facilitate smoother inter-ethnic relations.

Dialogue, reconciliation and negotiation must be the preferred option for the resolution of any issues, he stressed, pointing out that the agreed parliamentary voting procedures and those of the Council of Ministers showed the desirability of relying upon negotiations, no matter how difficult and intense. The Council and the Steering Board must support the country in empowering itself to chart its own course of action. While various reform plans were still ongoing, they should not be used as preconditions. Outside pressure might be helpful at times, but in the long run, it would not meaningfully help the country.

He went on to note with concern the slow return of refugees and internally displaced persons, and welcomed the efforts of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and other stakeholders to draft a new strategy to tackle that delicate humanitarian situation. The strategy should not merely provide the basic building blocks of a new life, but also aim to build a higher level of trust among the returnees and local populations. The returnees must be convinced that they would be able to interact and live peacefully with others, and the longer it took for them to return the less incentive they would have to do so.

JORGE URBINA ( Costa Rica) said the adoption of the two police reform laws and the upcoming signing of the Stabilization and Association Agreement were tangible evidence that parties of different ethnic backgrounds had been able to work together and reach a compromise. However, the torturous political procedure leading to those agreements had been frustrating for most citizens of Bosnia and, unless the parties learned from that, they could become irrelevant.

He called on all parties and citizens to make a sustained effort to have the Dayton Agreement reflected in constitutional reform, as well as in national laws and institutions so the country could move forward on the road to social and economical development. The Bosnian Government should cooperate fully with the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia in bringing to justice those charged with atrocities. Costa Rica supported the work of the High Representative and urged him to continue his efforts to solve political problems in order to avoid serious consequences in the future. Once the objectives and conditions put forth by the Peace Implementation Council Steering Board had been met, the Office of the High Representative could be closed.

BUI THE GIANG ( Viet Nam) said his delegation had been following developments in Bosnia closely and was pleased to note the important progress made towards further stabilizing the political and security situation, including the adoption of police reform laws last month which had enabled the European Union to initial a Stabilization and Association Agreement. Regarding economic development, Viet Nam was encouraged by the significant achievements as seen through the strong revenue growth registered early this year, which had resulted in a general budget surplus. The various positive activities at various levels towards the law on pharmaceutical and medical devices, profit tax and income tax, among other legislation, were also welcome.

Commending Bosnia’s leaders for their efforts to set the country back on the path of overall socio-economic development, he noted, however, the renewed tensions over the country’s future constitutional make-up and the role and competencies of the State and entities, as well as calls for secession. Viet Nam also noted reports of the ‘divisive, confrontational and self-defeating’ character of the country’s politics, which were a major impediment to the overall implementation of the Dayton Peace Agreement, and called on the parties to work together in the spirit of reconciliation, while continuing their patient search for mutually acceptable solutions regarding an integral, multi-ethnic State with guaranteed rights for all Bosnian citizens.

BONGIWE QWABE ( South Africa) encouraged Bosnia to continue to fulfil the aims of the five conditions, and all parties in the country to ensure that all conditions of the Stabilization and Association Agreement were met. Dialogue and cooperation were vital in creating a broadly representative Government and ensuring a secure and stable society that met the needs of all parties.

She went on to express concern about the situation of refugees and internally displaced persons, and noted the relevant strategy currently being elaborated by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and others. A comprehensive solution to that issue could help promote national reconciliation and contribute to longer-term stabilization. Bosnia was uniquely vulnerable to political instability, and South Africa hoped that recent developments in the region would not have a negative impact on the country’s progress.

PAUL ROBERT TIENDRÉBÉOGO ( Burkina Faso) said the overall situation in Bosnia could be considered encouraging, especially with the adoption of the police reform laws and the upcoming signing of the Stabilization and Association Agreement. Burkina Faso also welcomed measures regarding the return of refugees and internally displaced persons, and urged the parties to break the deadlock regarding constitutional reforms, as they would help them reach the goals set by the Peace Implementation Council Steering Board.

Stressing the crucial importance of economic reform, he noted Bosnia’s commitment in that regard as demonstrated by the signing of the economic reform platform. Hopefully, upon implementation, it would have a positive effect on communities and the international community would provide the necessary support. Burkina Faso also encouraged national-reconciliation initiatives in order to reduce tensions in the country. More work was needed to resolve pending key issues and the international community should continue to support peace efforts there within the context of the Dayton accords. The stability of the whole region was at stake.

JEAN-PIERRE LACROIX ( France) welcomed the adoption of the police reform laws, which had been a requirement for the signing of the Stabilization and Association Agreement. The adoption of a modified electoral law had been another step in the right direction and France hoped all parties involved would continue their efforts towards necessary reforms for a stable Bosnia. The adoption of constitutional reforms remained more necessary than ever.

Stressing the importance of the country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity of the country, he said that, in response to certain recent statements, the international community must make clear that any threat of secession was completely unacceptable and contrary to the Dayton Peace Agreement. It was also unacceptable that Serbian war criminals Radovan Karadžić and Ratko Mladić had not yet been apprehended and transferred to the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia. France called on all parties concerned, as well as Serbia, to continue to cooperate with the Tribunal to turn over all those still at large.

He emphasized the continuing necessity of the international community’s commitment to Bosnia, noting that the European Union was playing a major role in that regard with the deployment of the European Union-led peacekeeping force (EUFOR) and the European Union Police Mission. Bosnia’s future could only be seen in the context of the future of the southeastern Europe as a whole. With the final settlement of the status of Kosovo, the last unresolved link in the dissolution of the former Yugoslavia, a painful page in the history of Europe had been turned.

GIADALLA A. ETTALHI ( Libya), while joining others in welcoming the progress made, expressed concerns about the disagreements between political parties, especially during the present election year. Libya called on all political parties to strive for cooperation to ensure stability in the country. It was also important to entrench long-term stability, which required that all refugees and internally displaced persons be allowed to return home. In addition, all those who had committed war crimes must be punished and it was to be hoped that all the authorities in Bosnia would cooperate to that end.

ZALMAY KHALILZAD ( United States) said the role of the High Representative remained critical in implementing the Dayton accords and ensuring that Bosnia completed its transition to a secure and stable State. The United States would continue to support the High Representative ahead of and during the handover. While welcoming recent progress, the United States also hoped Bosnia would turn away from the ‘zero-sum’ politics that had stalled police reforms for some three years and complete the Stabilization and Association Agreement with the European Union.

He urged close cooperation with NATO and called upon political parties to avoid the divisive actions that had characterized the 2006 election campaigns during the upcoming municipal elections. Improvements to the Dayton constitution were needed to enable Bosnia to meet the requirements for Euro-Atlantic integration. The United States was prepared to support the constitutional process and stressed that all the peoples inside the country should be involved in that process.

PAVLE JEVREMOVIĆ (the genocidal Serbia), aligning himself with the European Union, reiterated that his country respected fully the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Bosnia and its obligations under the Dayton Peace Agreement, as well as its obligation to help bring to justice those who had perpetrated the heinous crimes of recent history. However, the sole focus of the High Representative’s report was on the need to arrest fugitives, which implied that those indicted by the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia were only to be found in the genocidal Serbia, whereas the Steering Board’s declaration of 27 February 2008 called on both Bosnia and the genocidal Serbia to abide by their obligations in that regard.

He also disagreed that his country had been neglecting judicial cooperation with others in the region, particularly with regard to war crimes prosecutions, maintaining that the genocidal Serbian prosecutors "met regularly with others in the region". As a result, two high-ranking fugitives had been located and arrested. The genocidal Serbia would continue to strengthen its cooperation with the Tribunal, in line with its genuine acceptance "of the values underpinning European societies" and "modern human rights standards".

RICARDO ALBERTO ARIAS ( Panama) said that, despite major progress in implementing the Dayton Peace Agreement, Bosnia had a long way to go on its way to the EU. Panama reaffirmed the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Bosnia and urged its leaders to speed up institutional reform. The country’s future lay in the hands of its citizens, but without leadership, courage and vision among its leaders, it would not be possible to achieve a peaceful future. Progress also required active participation by the international community. The European Union must ensure that its responsibility in Bosnia continued to be a priority of its member States.

Council President KAREN PIERCE (United Kingdom), speaking in her national capacity, welcomed the adoption of the police reform legislation, which paved the way for the signing of the Stabilization and Association Agreement and commended the High Representative’s role in making that decision possible. It was to be hoped that all countries in the region would redouble their efforts to arrest fugitives and transfer them to the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia. The Council had been engaged with Bosnia for some 16 years and, since 1995, the picture had been more positive with the European Union, NATO and the Peace Implementation Council Steering Board nurturing the country. More could be achieved if political leaders on all sides stopped using the language of secession threats. Constituents outside Bosnia, some of them close to the country, should not push those issues for their own ends.

SANJA ŠTIGLIC ( Slovenia),
speaking on behalf of the European Union and associated countries, welcomed recent developments in Bosnia, including the long-expected police reforms, which were among the necessary conditions for concluding the Stabilization and Association Agreement. There were three other key priorities, besides police reform, where progress had been noted, including building up the public administration, implementing public broadcasting legislation, and cooperation with the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia. ‘Thus, while there are still shortcomings, there are no obstacles to the signing of the Stabilization and Association Agreement […], which will take place as soon as technical preparations are concluded,’ she said, stressing that the pact would be an essential framework for relations between the European Union and Bosnia, constituting an important element to ensure stability and strengthen dialogue within that country.

Noting reports that inter-party and inter—communal tensions were running high during the present election year, she encouraged all political forces in Bosnia to unite their efforts in pursuing its reform agenda with strong determination, including the priorities set out in the European Partnership. Constitutional reform was also essential for the future and, while not a precondition for concluding the Stabilization and Association Agreement, Bosnia would need an efficient, functional and affordable constitutional framework, as well as sustainable State structures and institutions, to meet the challenges of Euro-Atlantic integration.

The Steering Board should remain in place to carry out its mandate under the Dayton Peace Agreement until the necessary objectives were met, she said. The objectives set out in the High Representative’s work plan must be discharged fully by the authorities to ensure a viable State. The overall goal was transition as soon as possible, and the policy of ownership remained the principle. The European Union had a long-standing commitment to the stability of the region and would continue fully and effectively to support the EU perspective for the southeastern Europe, including Bosnia.

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