EU Statement – United Nations Security Council: Situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina

Statement on behalf of the EU and its Member States by H.E. Mr. Silvio Gonzato, Deputy Head of the Delegation of the European Union to the United Nations, at the Security Council Open Debate on the Situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina

Mr. President,

I have the honour to speak on behalf of the European Union and its 28 Member States.

The Candidate Countries Turkey, North Macedonia*, Montenegro*, and Albania*, and the EFTA country Liechtenstein, member of the European Economic Area, as well as Ukraine, align themselves with this statement.

Mr. President,

I join other speakers in welcoming High Representative Valentin Inzko back to the Council and in assuring him of the European Union’s continued support. I also welcome the Permanent Representative of Bosnia and Herzegovina and thank her for her statement.

The European Commission will release its Opinion soon on Bosnia and Herzegovina’s application for EU membership. The Council of the European Union will then pronounce itself on the next steps. This will be a historic moment for Bosnia and Herzegovina’s path towards integration in the European Union, with its values of peaceful co-existence, prosperity and diversity for Member States and citizens.

Seven months have passed since the holding of the country’s general elections which took place in October 2018. We commend the rapid formation of the executive institutions in the Republika Srpska entity as well as in 7 out of 10 cantons of the Federation entity, and the formation of the parliamentary institutions at all levels. We welcome, after the adoption of an ad hoc domestic solution, the formation of the Federation entity House of Peoples and, as a consequence, the State-level House of Peoples.

Nevertheless, we are concerned regarding the slow progress made towards the formation of the governments at State and Federation levels. The prolongation of care-taker governments seriously hinders the implementation of reforms; internal party politics and a lack of willingness to compromise should not block the legitimate aspirations of the citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina to advance towards the European Union. We urge all political leaders to assume their responsibilities and proceed without further delay to the formation of governments for the benefit of the whole country and its people.

The European Union has repeatedly stated that election-related issues, including provisions for holding local elections in Mostar and the Bosnia and Herzegovina Presidency, should be addressed as soon as possible, taking into account the situation in the country and in line with European standards and decisions of the Constitutional Court in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The European Union underlines that no legislative or political steps should be taken which would make the implementation of the European Court for Human Rights Sejdić-Finci ruling and related rulings more challenging. In this respect, the European Union underlines that it expects the Bosnia and Herzegovina authorities to prioritise taking forward the reforms needed to advance on the country’s EU path, in line with the citizens’ expectations.

The European Union insists on the need for the authorities to urgently resume reforms and work towards strengthening the rule of law, in particular the independence and impartiality of the judiciary, fighting corruption and organised crime, countering radicalisation and addressing irregular migration as well as independence of the media, safety of journalists, promoting youth employment and education, and ensuring the adoption and full and effective implementation of a new set of socio-economic reforms.

Progress in the field of rule of law and fundamental rights is key for the country to advance towards the European Union. We therefore call upon the authorities in Bosnia and Herzegovina to urgently align legislative initiatives and law enforcement practices with European and international standards.

Taking into account the political and security situation on the ground and the importance of maintaining a safe and secure environment, the European Union reiterates its firm commitment to the executive mandate entrusted to EUFOR Althea by this Council.

M. le Président,

La Bosnie Herzégovine a été claire concernant sa volonté de devenir un jour membre de l’Union européenne, une aspiration que nous soutenons. Dans ce contexte, nous saluons la Déclaration de la Présidence de Bosnie-Herzégovine de décembre 2018 qui réaffirme que l’adhésion du pays à l’Union européenne demeure une priorité stratégique du pays entier.

Nous réitérons l’attachement sans équivoque de l’UE à la perspective européenne de la Bosnie-Herzégovine en tant que pays unique, uni et souverain. Nous appelons les dirigeants politiques de Bosnie-Herzégovine à s’abstenir de toute rhétorique sécessionniste et provocatrice et de toute action qui pourrait déstabiliser le pays et l’empêcher de s’attaquer à ses véritables défis.

Le projet européen s’est bâti sur la réconciliation entre les peuples. Le conflit armé en Bosnie-Herzégovine a apporté souffrances et destruction au sein de toutes les communautés. Le déni de génocide par des élus ou le révisionnisme promu par une Assemblée élue heurtent notre conscience et sont incompatibles avec la perspective d’intégration à l’Union Européenne.

Mr. President,

We expect the institutions and political leaders of Bosnia and Herzegovina to uphold the commitment to lasting reconciliation, in a true European spirit and guided by the aspiration of the vast majority of their fellow citizens to join the European Union.

Thank you.

* North Macedonia, Montenegro, and Albania continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process.