Dayton accords are the cornerstone of stability in Bosnia & Herzegovina [fr]
The situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina - Statement of Mr. Alexis Lamek, Deputy Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations - Security Council - 8 November 2016
I begin by thanking the High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina for his briefing and aligning myself with the statement to be delivered by the observer of the European Union shortly.
France welcomes the unanimous adoption of resolution 2315 (2016), which shows that all members of the Council share the same guiding principles with regard to Bosnia and Herzegovina: support for the presence of the European Union-led peacekeeping force (EUFOR Althea) while awaiting the strategic review that will be carried out next autumn by the European External Action Service; respect for the aspirationa of all factions in the country that favour a European outlook; and the absolute necessity that all must respect the principles and institutions set forth in the Paris Dayton accords.
The unity of the Council around such a common base sends a message of peace to the region. It recalls that the international community is in agreement in supporting the independence and territorial integrity of Bosnia and Herzegovina, which should not be challenged by any of its entities, and in respecting the country’s choices, provided that they are in line with international law and the framework established by the peace agreements.
More than 20 years after its signature, the Dayton accords remain the cornerstone of institutional stability in Bosnia and Herzegovina. In that regard, and as many have done before me, we can only deplore the decision made by the authorities of the Republika Srpska to hold a referendum in September on the issue of Republika Srpska Day, in contravention of its suspension by the Constitutional Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and hence of the Constitution, which is an integral part of the peace agreements that stipulates that the Court’s rulings are final and binding. That decision has led to an unnecessary spiral of tensions between communities and has revived memories of past divisions. We also regret the fact that the local elections on 2 October were not held in Mostar because of a lack of agreement on its status. The inhabitants of Mostar cannot continue to be deprived of their right to choose their own representatives, as they have been for eight years now.
France does not rule out the possibility of a debate being held among the entities on the definition of national holidays or the aspirations of some to improve the functioning of the central State. It nonetheless recalls that any viable solution must come by way of dialogue in good faith among the different stakeholders of the State of Bosnia and Herzegovina — the central State and the entities — while respecting constitutional rules. We also call on all the parties to cooperate with the institutions mentioned in the peace agreement, in particular the Constitutional Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the International Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia and the High Representative. The latter has a crucial role to play in promoting peaceful dialogue among the different communities and the entities. Political decision-makers must also fulfil their responsibilities, and we call on them to abandon divisive rhetoric.
Having said that, despite such fragilities we remain convinced that the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina is today heading in the right direction, towards normalization. Our objective for years to come remains, without challenging the principles of the Paris Dayton accords, to fully adapt the international presence to current realities.
France welcomes the fact that a European outlook is the main driver of development and consolidation in the country. Last February, Bosnia and Herzegovina submitted its candidacy for accession to the European Union, reflecting the broad support for such an outlook within the country. In that new context, the European Union shall continue more than ever to assist the authorities in Bosnia and Herzegovina in implementing reforms that respond to the economic and social aspirations of the population. The Reform Agenda adopted last year is, in that regard, critical. We welcome the fact that it is already bearing concrete results, such as the adoption of new labour legislation at the entity level. We encourage Bosnian authorities at all levels to intensify their reform efforts to the benefit of the people of the country and in the context of moving Bosnia and Herzegovina closer to Europe.
The European Union mission EUFOR Althea will also pursue its efforts to enable the security forces of Bosnia to operate in an independent fashion and to thereby participate in building a peaceful society looking towards the future. Next autumn, this will be subject of a strategic review within the European Union, as I have already said, that will allow for the drawing up of options for its development in the years to come, taking into account the progress Bosnia and Herzegovina has made towards European rapprochement.
Twenty years after the horror of war, Bosnia and Herzegovina is today advancing in the right direction, with the support of the European Union and its other partners. The responsibility of the international community, and especially the Council, is to encourage it in that direction. The unanimity with which we have adopted resolution 2315 (2016) this morning will undoubtedly contribute to that.