Bosnia and Herzegovina: we have to defend with force and conviction, a spirit of reconciliation [fr]
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Statement by Mr Samer Melki, Deputy PPolitical Coordinator of France to the United Nations
Security Council - 6 November 2018
I thank the High Representative for the Implementation of the Peace Agreement on Bosnia and Herzegovina, Mr. Valentin Inzko, for his enlightening briefing on the latest developments, particularly in the electoral process.
The citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina went to the polls on 7 October to elect their representatives at the level of the cantons, parliamentary assemblies and the presidencies. More than 20 years after a deadly conflict was brought to an end by the Dayton Peace Accords, we can today be pleased by the holding of elections deemed free by observers of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. However, the many irregularities referred to in the report (S/2018/974, annex) of the High Representative deserve our attention so as to prevent their recurrence in future elections.
The new authorities will face three priorities following the elections. The first, which is essential for the future of the country, is national cohesion. As pointed out by the High Representative and several members of the Security Council, the provocations and controversies launched by some political leaders fuel inter-community tensions and undermine efforts to build trust among the communities. It is the responsibility of the new leaders to reject rhetoric and positions that are likely to reopen the wounds of the past. As such, almost a year after the closure of the International Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia and the creation of the Residual Mechanism, France strongly condemns the glorification of crimes and war criminals, regardless of their community of origin. It is unacceptable that after the commission of cruel acts — and we all remember the Srebrenica massacre, among others, as has been recalled — that politicians continue to lift up as examples those responsible for the most serious crimes. Strengthening national cohesion requires more than ever that there be progress towards a more consensual operation of the institutions of Bosnia and Herzegovina. We welcome the amendments made to the criminal procedure code, which are an all-too-rare example of a constructive approach.
National cohesion will have to be based on justice. That is the second priority, no less essential, on which I wish to expound. The rule of law and respect for human rights are not a luxury to which only prosperous countries can lay claim. On the contrary, it is a condition for just and sustainable economic and social development, the vitality of civil society and the stability of institutions. France therefore calls on all political actors to respect the decisions taken by national and international judicial bodies, including on the issue of electoral reform, in the interests of Bosnia and Herzegovina and Bosnian citizens.
On the other hand, it is essential to make progress in the fight against corruption and organized crime and to ensure that all investigations are conducted in the most impartial manner. We expect the Bosnian authorities to take strong measures against a phenomenon of corruption that fuels mistrust of the authorities and encourages younger generations to continue to leave the country. The High Representative has just mentioned the statistics of those departures, a worrying indicator for the future of the country.
That brings me to the third and last priority, which is the European perspective. France associates itself with the statement to be delivered on behalf of the European Union in a few minutes. The prospect of European Union integration, in due course and when the conditions are met, is an extension of the European Union’s widespread and multifaceted involvement in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Throughout that involvement, the European Union military Operation Althea, to which we have just renewed our collective support and which must continue its transition with regard to its non-executive tasks, continues to contribute to the stabilization of the country. The competent European services, for their part, are redoubling their efforts to support Bosnia and Herzegovina in its rapprochement with the European Union and to prepare an opinion on the candidature of Bosnia and Herzegovina for membership in the European Union. It is up to Bosnian political leaders to implement the necessary reforms, particularly in the areas of the rule of law, human rights and economic and social development, in order to make progress along their path towards Europe. In that perspective, we encourage Bosnian political leaders to favour a consensual decision-making process.
As we commemorate the centenary of the end of the Great War, we have the responsibility to bear witness to the cruel violence that ravaged Europe over the past century and to defend, with force and conviction, a spirit of reconciliation. It is not only an ideal but also a practice, as has been mentioned. France does that on a daily basis with Germany. We encourage the leaders of Bosnia and Herzegovina to engage resolutely in that direction with the interests of all Bosnian citizens as their sole objective.