Thank you, Mr. President. I would like to welcome High Representative Inzko back to the Security Council. Thank you Mr. High Representative for your comprehensive briefing and your service to the people of Bosnia and Herzegovina to preserve peace and promote stability in the region.
I have three main points to make in reaction to the High Representative’s report and briefing today.
First, the United States would like to congratulate the Bosnian people on their active participation in the local elections that took place October 7. It is important that so many citizens turned out to select their local leaders. Free and fair elections, including voting rights for internally displaced persons and returnees, are essential for Bosnian future membership in the European Union and NATO. We are disappointed that the residents of Mostar were unable to vote on election day because political leaders failed to implement a constitutional court ruling to change the electoral system, but we welcome and strongly support the efforts of the High Representative to facilitate negotiations among the parties to resolve this issue. We hope the people of Mostar will be able to exercise their rights to elect their leaders soon.
Second, the United States is disappointed at the lack of progress since the last report of the High Representative. The promising developments on the EU and NATO agenda that took place earlier in the year have stalled. The decision by some parties to restructure the state government coalition after barely five months in office, following 16 months of stalemate, has distracted from the pressing reform agenda those parties profess to support. We hope the new coalition will complete government restructuring as soon as possible and resume work on the conditions the EU has established for Bosnia and Herzegovina to be able to submit a credible membership application – one that will comply with the European Court of Human Rights verdict in the Sejdic-Finci case and establish a coordination mechanism for engaging in accession negotiations with the EU. Further, the United States stands ready to support activation of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s Membership Action Plan at NATO as soon as the government registers state ownership of those defense properties required by the Ministry of Defense and Armed Forces. Secretary Clinton and EU High Representative Catherine Ashton delivered this message when they visited Sarajevo together in October and urged Bosnian leaders to put aside their differences to complete the reforms necessary for Euro-Atlantic integration.
Third, the United States remains steadfastly committed to Bosnia and Herzegovina’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. As Secretary Clinton said during her recent visit to Sarajevo, “it is totally unacceptable that, 17 years after the war ended, some still question Bosnia-Herzegovina’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. Such talk is a distraction from the problems facing the country and serves only to undermine the goal of European integration. The Dayton Accords must be respected and preserved, period.”
The United States remains committed to supporting the reforms over the past 17 years that have enabled the progress towards EU and NATO integration. Attacks by politicians from both entities on the independence of the state judiciary, calls for dissolution of the armed forces, efforts to dissolve the state electricity transmission company—institutions which were created in order to meet EU and NATO integration requirements—raise serious questions about the sincerity of their stated desires of these individuals to realize the aspirations of the Bosnian people to become members of these two institutions.
In this regard, Mr. High Representative, let me reaffirm the unwavering support of the United States for your authorities to ensure full implementation of the Dayton Peace Accords, including use of the Bonn Powers if needed. The United States will continue to support maintaining your office until the 5+2 objectives and conditions established by the Peace Implementation Council Steering Board have been fulfilled. We commend your decision to close the Brcko Final Award Office and the suspension of Supervision of the Brcko District on August 31, moving Bosnia closer to completing a 5+2 objective. We wish every success to Brcko residents as their democratically-elected leaders assume full responsibility for governing the District.
Mr. President, in the seventeen years since the signing of the Dayton Peace Agreement, the United States, NATO, and our EU allies worked diligently to help maintain peace and security in Bosnia and Herzegovina. We remain committed to supporting the Bosnian people and their goal of Euro-Atlantic integration and are prepared to work with leaders who are committed to delivering these results.
Thank you, Mr. President.
Cross Posted from United States Mission to the UN.