Transcript of a press conference with RS President Milorad Dodik and Ambassador Peter Sorensen in Banja Luka, Tuesday 13 September 2011

President Dodik (MD): [Unofficial translation] Honourable audience, good afternoon. Today I had the honour to start a series of meetings with Mr. Sorensen related to the RS, Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) and the EU, we expressed the common belief that the progress towards the EU is a priority for both RS and BiH. We have identified the main issues that need to be resolved in order to achieve new dynamics, and these are issues related to the Law on Census, legislation regulating the system of state aid, and of course, Sejdic – Finci judgment, an inevitable topic where we need to create a credible process which would lead us to a position to be able to apply for a status in the EU. Those were the main topics of our today’s meeting. I believe it is very important to create a clear, transparent system of coordination in BiH on all issues. It is also very important that Europe supports this credible process and wants to see it happen, which would enable us to move from stalemate on many issues. Those are essentially questions of basic relations in BiH, whether some jurisdiction should be placed in one instance or the other, whether new institutions should be created or not. This is where we have lost time, years, hours, days. This way, through building a transparent system of coordination, which would be efficient and fast, we could utilize a new approach that would enable further rapid movement of BiH towards the EU. Surely, issues we will be dealing with in future are essential for the implementation of the Stabilization and Association Agreement, as a mutual agreement between the EU and BiH. I stand ready to, together with the representatives of the EU administration, work here with my associates on all issues, to find solutions… primarily to understand all these issues and to resolve them according to our constitutional system, and constitutional order.  BiH was made and put together in Dayton, which is a framework for operations. I am pleased to hear a clear view of the European Commission that Dayton Agreement is a basis and framework for action and respect within BIH. Of course we are aware that in future we will have to face some challenges and deal with them in order to eliminate delays on the path towards the EU. RS is ready to build a State Government, and I have informed Mr. Sorenson about that. RS was ready for that a long time ago. We want to respect the constitution, Dayton agreement, as well as current practice of rotation and balance, and in that sense we are absolutely ready to finish formation of the Council of Ministers. We are not in favour of the options which would extend the technical mandate to a current Council of Ministers, but in favour of forming a new one, meaning forming a new Council of Ministers which would take over the responsibilities and make progress in dealing with important issues.


 


I am very optimistic after this meeting. I believe there is a high level of understanding of views. Mr. Sorensen is a man who has been here before, and who comes from the region, so we will not waste time on introducing or misunderstanding of certain standpoints. We will move fast, and I am confident that within two days, at the level of political party leaders, we will manage to overcome all backlogs pertaining to the Law on Census and Law on State Aid, and that we will start talks about a credible process in terms of Sjedic Finci issue. This would result in new dynamics and I am glad that Mr. Sorensen will be able to work with us on these issues so we would achieve success together. Thank you.


 


 


 


 


 


 


Ambassador Peter Sorensen (PS): Good afternoon, thank you very much for coming, and thank you for seeing some of you again, here is one of the press conferences where I am again. I have just had the meeting with President Dodik where I used this opportunity, as I have done in the previous days, to underline the EU’s commitment to the eventual goal of the integration of a sovereign and united Bosnia. We want to work in partnership with the authorities here, all authorities in BiH, including the RS. And collectively we have the work plan laid down for us in the Council conclusions from the March this year which was clearly stated by the President, it is the issue about getting the Stabilization and Association Agreement into force this year hopefully. For doing that we need the interim agreement to be implemented to its fullest, the agreement we already have in place with BiH. We need a resolution of the State aid law, we need to see credible efforts in aligning the constitution of BiH with the European Convention of Human Rights, and finally we need to see efforts on the Census law because this law will provide you with information you need to give us in the accession process.


 


Also today we discussed the issue that the EU dedicated view that 660 million euros of pre-accession assistance for the years 2007 – 2013. That is why setting effective coordination mechanisms in Bosnia and Herzegovina is absolutely essential for our support to you to be effective. What we confirm today is that we the EU office here in Bosnia, we stand ready to help in deciding such mechanisms if need be. I would also underline the importance of reaching agreement on the General Fiscal Framework at the state level is also at our mind. We believe that all in the RS will play a constructive role in this, because this will unlock then the pending macro financial assistance for BiH, which we have ready for you. I have also told the President that it is of great importance to us that State and Entity institutions establish a close relationship in matters of EU affairs coordination, harmonization of legislation. As I have done in my other courtesy calls like these I have underlined that we are ready to do this in partnership with BiH’s institutions. I am looking forward to meeting all and getting down to work, I held our party to making the EU a future part of the agenda and a real substantive ones Thank you very much for the first meeting, the beginning of a number of them I am sure.


 


[A first question about the protocol of the meeting was ruled out of order by the moderator from the office of the President.]


 


Journalist 1: Question for Mr. Sorensen.You stated at the beginning, that the EU is committed to building a sovereign Bosnia and Herzegovina, does that imply that entities would transfer their sovereignty to the state level? Does that mean that entities would also be respected within BiH?


 


PS: It is very, very clear, the EU has declared that BiH is a possible future member state, its extended its invitation with the whole region. The way that is written down, and I suggest you to read it in the Conclusions from March, where it is very clear that we are supporting BiH under the current constitutional order, we are supporting the general framework agreement for peace, the answer to your question is there. There it is very, very clear, how is the constitution that state is built on.


 


Of course there are some issues that need to be dealt when you are entering as a full EU member, you have to have effective mechanisms being able to respond to the various challenges. If you take a look at the member states of the EU you will see that we are different members states with different constructions, but it’s very clear that there are some requirements for coordination that member states will need to take on and we expect that to be the the case here.



Journalist 2: At the beginning of the press conference you said that you will stand for the principle of coordination on all issues.Can you be more specific, what did you mean by that?


 


MD: To be precise, I just maintained what I was saying before, when Mr. Barroso was here, who was saying that Europe needs to have one address for the entire BiH, but he also understands that it is not always some new institution, but one transparent system of coordination which should be applied to all other issues in BiH. RS, FBiH and shared institutions should use this system of coordination in order to reach a common stand, and possibly respond to the challenges the European path brings along.


 


This is the system of coordination, without hesitation and without prior fights about how to transfer certain competencies, how to finish them, it is necessary to have a transparent system, for coordination… I understand that this is exactly it, as for all the questions at BiH level would then be answered through joint institutions which again should coordinate with the lower levels of government, on all matters, so that everybody is involved in the process of decision making, those pro and contra, and to be together on these issues.


 


I understand the question of BiH, FBiH and RS sovereignty this way: there is no sovereign BiH without sovereign RS, as well as there is no RS on its way towards the EU without the cooperation with state institutions. This coordination has to be persistent, durable, transparent, visible and efficient. That is what we support and plan to do, and we will be part of that process.