18 May 2017 - Bosnia and Herzegovina is moving in the right direction [fr]
Bosnia and Herzegovina - Statement by Ms Anne Gueguen, Deputy Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations - Security Council - 18 May 2017
I thank the High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina for his briefing.France aligns itself with the statement that will be delivered shortly on behalf of the European Union.
More than 20 years after the Dayton-Paris Agreement was signed, it continues to be the key to institutional stability in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The unanimous adoption in November last year of resolution 2315 served to underscore that all the members of the Security Council share the same cardinal principles with regard to Bosnia and Herzegovina. It also recalled the urgent need for everyone to abide by the principles and institutions set up by the Dayton-Paris Agreement and respect the desires of all of the country’s stakeholders with regard to the European Union, as well expressing support for the presence of the European Union-led peacekeeping force Althea, which, for the time being, has an executive mandate.
The unity of the Council on that common basis conveys a message of peace to a region that remains fragile, as the past few months have shown. It reflects the fact that the international community agrees to support the independence and territorial integrity of Bosnia and Herzegovina, which cannot be called into question by any one of its entities, and to respect the choices made by the country, provided that they are in line with international law and the framework established by the peace agreements.
In that regard, we are deeply concerned about the various developments that in recent months have revived tensions among the communities and brought memories of past differences back to the fore. First, a referendum was organized in Republika Srpska on the issue of a national day. The vote was held in violation of two judgments of the Constitutional Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina, whose decisions are binding and final under both the Bosnian Constitution and the Peace Agreement. The question of respect for the rule of law is therefore a major issue. We also lament the tensions surrounding the recent filing of an appeal for review of the 2007 ruling of the International Court of Justice.
Political leaders must act within the framework of national institutions and their respective functions. The International Court of Justice dismissed the appeal because it found that that had not been the case.
In general, we call for greater vigilance with regard to any initiative that is likely to create new divisions in the country. We once again urge all parties to cooperate with the institutions mentioned in the Peace Agreement, namely, the Bosnian Constitutional Court, the International Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia and the Office of the High Representative. We expect that the High Representative will focue his efforts on facilitating a peaceful daily dialogue among the different communities and entities.
It is more important than ever that the political leaders grasp the full extent of their responsibilities. The failure to adopt the necessary measures for the granting of International Monetary Fund assistance is a cause for concern in that regard. We therefore call on all stakeholders to abandon their divisive rhetoric and political games. The time has come to focus on the implementation of the economic and social reforms, which are the crux of the common aspirations of all the citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina, regardless of their community of origin.
However, despite that fragile situation, we remain convinced that the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina is moving towards normalization. Without calling into question the founding principles of the Dayton-Paris Agreement, our objective for the upcoming years is to develop the international presence so that it is fully adapted to the realities of the day. In particular, consideration as to reconfiguring the Office of the High Representative must also continue.
France welcomes the fact that the European perspective is today the main engine for developing and strengthening the country.
In that regard, we welcome the many positive developments in the past few months in Bosnia and Herzegovina in the areas of reform and European integration. The official handing over to the Bosnian authorities of the questionnaire to initiate the European Commission’s consideration of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s candidacy for European Union membership is certainly one such positive development. That is taking place in a context in which the prospect of European integration is receiving massive support on the part of the Bosnian population and enjoys unanimity among the institutions, from the Presidency to the cantons and the entities, which we welcome.
In that context, the European Union will continue now more than ever to help the authorities of Bosnia and Herzegovina in implementing reforms that fulfil the people’s aspirations. The reform agenda is central in that respect. While much remains to be done, we are pleased that initial concrete results have already been achieved. As to the questionnaire, we attach particular importance to demonstrating that the European coordination mechanism is fully functional.
Lastly, as has been mentioned here, the European Union-led stabilization force Althea will also continue its activities and will adapt to the changing security situation on the ground in order to allow the Bosnian security forces to operate autonomously and to participate in consolidating a peaceful and forward-looking society. It will be the subject of a strategic review in autumn by the European Union, which will guide its work in the years to come.
Twenty-one years after the horror of the war and 25 years after the start of the conflict, Bosnia and Herzegovina is moving in the right direction, with the support of the European Union and its other partners. The responsibility of the international community, and especially of the Council, is to encourage Bosnia and Herzegovina along this path so that it finally turns the page on the divisions of the past.