The European integration of Bosnia and Herzegovina remains a strategic priority - 12 May 2015 [fr]
Bosnia and Herzegovina –Statement by Mr. Alexis Lamek, Deputy Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations - Security Council - 12 May 2015
At the outset, I also would like to thank the High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina, Mr. lnzko, for his briefing.
France fully associates itself with the statement to be made shortly on behalf of the European Union. I will focus my remarks on three points.
First, concerning the political dynamics, the Bosnian people were able to exercise their democratic duty last October and to choose new representatives. A great many things in fact remain in need of improvement; testimony to that is the fact that the process for appointing the executive was significantly delayed and was not finalized until the end of March. However, we are pleased to see a new team in place, both at the level of the two entities and at the State level, where the tripartite Presidency has quickly gotten to work and has been collaborating constructively with the Office of the High Representative and with the European Union.
The task facing the Bosnian authorities is considerable, and Bosnians expect their leaders to demonstrate that they are capable of facing it. Refusing to succumb to rhetoric that exacerbates ethnic divisions, the Bosnian people as a whole have shown that their priority is socioeconomic improvement. Year after year the country has remained powerless in the face of a major issue: seeing young people take their talents abroad because of the lack of opportunities and prospects for the future. We urge the Bosnian authorities to act to improve the situation as rapidly as possible.
Secondly, I would like to consider a very important topic, that is, the European integration of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Above all, the goal is to improve the socioeconomic conditions of the country. For that reason, we relaunched the European Union initiative with regard to Bosnia and Herzegovina, including European integration, which remains a strategic priority. That is a wish expressed by the Bosnians themselves, despite what some outside Bosnia and Herzegovina might want to believe. The lack of movement of the last few years could not reasonably continue, while most neighbouring States experienced considerable progress along this path. It is in that spirit that the European Union has decided to lend new momentum to the process, which, I reiterate, meets the wishes of the Bosnian population.
The formation of a new governmental team provides an ideal opportunity to take a further step towards integration, and we welcome the positive reception to date to the European Union initiative by Bosnia and Herzegovina — on the part of the Presidency, the Parliament and the main political forces in the country. The written commitment undertaken by the authorities should open the path for the socioeconomic reforms so sorely needed by the country, which will enable it to become closer to its European neighbours. The logical result of that commitment is the Stabilization and Association Agreement, which will enter into force in a few weeks and which we welcome. The upcoming Bosnian presidency of the Council of Europe, which begins on 19 May, will provide an opportunity for Bosnia and Herzegovina to affirm its desire to become closer to Europe and to the fundamental principles guaranteed by the European Convention on Human Rights, so dear to the heart of the European Union.
Finally, I would like to say a few words on the existing institutional framework. The whole of Europe wishes to participate in the transformation of Bosnia and Herzegovina and to contribute its integration as a united, sovereign country that enjoys full territorial integrity. In that regard, it is unacceptable that the old nationalist ideas are still voiced, thus endangering the unity and stability of the country. We reiterate our call for an end to any actions or rhetoric likely to divide the country. Our message is clear: there can be no questioning of the territorial integrity of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
We also call upon all parties to cooperate fully with the High Representative, in keeping with the Dayton Accords, which constitute the reference framework for the international community’s role in Bosnia and Herzegovina. I would like to pay tribute to the High Representative and his team for their commitment and dedication to uphold the General Framework Agreement for Peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina, which for 20 years now has preserved peace. At the same time, the consideration of the reconfiguring the Office of the High Representative should continue. That conclusion is based on the fact that the persisting political difficulties force us to re-craft and adapt our strategy. Maintaining the exact framework and mechanisms established at the end of the 1990s does not serve the needs of the Bosnia and Herzegovina people at a time when the situation in the country and the region has considerably evolved. We wish to reinforce the cohesiveness of the international mechanism on Bosnia and Herzegovina by seeking complementarity between the Office of the High Representative and that of the European Union, the leadership of which is recognized today.
I cannot conclude by mentioning a very painful memory. We are preparing to commemorate the sad twentieth anniversary of the Srebrenica massacre, described as genocide by the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia. We hope that the country will be able to demonstrate that it has been able to overcome old grudges and demonstrate national unity. The future of Bosnia and Herzegovina requires closer cooperation between the entities that compose it on the basis of equality and mutual respect. In that regard, intercommunity reconciliation is essential to consolidate a sense of belonging to a common history and destiny, which is a requirement for the construction of a common future. The European Union, like France, will assist Bosnians in the process.