FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thank you, Mr. President. High Representative Inzko, welcome back to the Security Council. Thank you for his comprehensive briefing and for his service on behalf of the international community.
Let me also acknowledge the dedicated service of Bosnia and Herzegovina on the Council, which demonstrates its commitment to playing a strong, responsible role in the international community. Bosnia and Herzegovina's term on this Council has also demonstrated that cooperation and consensus among the leaders of its constituent groups is possible even on complicated matters of international peace and security. This in turn gives us hope that those leaders can find ways to work together to overcome their internal political difficulties.
More than 15 years ago, the international community came together with Bosnia and Herzegovina's leaders to end a terrible conflict and forge a blueprint for the way forward. The hard work in Dayton, Ohio, paved the way for the lasting peace from which Bosnia and Herzegovina continues to benefit. But today, the foundations of that historic agreement are being challenged, threatening to undercut many of the gains the country has achieved since Dayton. The United States urges the parties to make every effort to work together across ethnic and party lines to maintain peace and stability in Bosnia and Herzegovina and throughout the region.
Mr. President, let me make four points in reaction to Ambassador Inzko’s report.
First, the United States would like to reiterate our full support for the authority of the High Representative under the Dayton Accords. His authority has also been repeatedly affirmed in numerous Security Council resolutions. We agree that the recent conclusions adopted by the Republika Srpska National Assembly present a fundamental challenge to the Dayton Accords, and constitute the most serious of a disturbing pattern of actions by the Republika Srspka in violation of this agreement. These actions raise serious questions about the Republika Srpska's commitment to the rule of law and to Bosnia and Herzegovina’s path to membership in the EU. They represent a setback to progress made on the 5+2 agenda toward closing the Office of the High Representative. And they will have a chilling effect on the Republika Srpska’s ability to attract much-needed foreign investment, complicating the already difficult road to economic recovery.
Mr. President, the High Representative has our complete support in condemning these unwarranted and unlawful challenges to his authority. He will likewise have our full support in steps he takes to uphold Dayton and defend and preserve Bosnia and Herzegovina’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. We are in the process of considering our own measures in support of Dayton and Bosnian state institutions, should they become necessary.
Second, we are extremely concerned about the absence of a state-level government more than seven months after the general elections. The political stalemate impedes progress on crucial reforms that are a first step toward membership in the EU and NATO. Bosnia and Herzegovina's leaders must assemble a strong coalition government capable of making the necessary reforms—or risk seeing Bosnia and Herzegovina fall behind on the path to integration. Progress is possible if politicians are prepared to set aside narrow ethnic and personal political agendas and work toward common goals. The increased coordination among members of the tripartite Presidency provides us with optimism that this can happen.
Third, the United States remains concerned about divisive and chauvinistic rhetoric. Hate speech—including deeply troubling denials of the Srebrenica genocide—severely undermines trust and has led to increased tension between citizens and their political representatives. All groups have the right to address their grievances, but calls for secession and territorial reorganization are unrealistic and destabilizing. They serve only to deepen ethnic mistrust and division.
Fourth, let me again emphasize the importance of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s continued cooperation with the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. The country’s law enforcement and judicial collaboration with regional partners to apprehend suspected war criminals across borders is a step forward. We encourage Bosnian authorities to build on this progress and further advance stability in the region by creating an institutional mechanism for such cooperation. Mr. President, we welcome the EU’s decision to enhance its representation in Bosnia and Herzegovina. We also welcome EUFOR's contributions, which remain necessary for maintaining stability, particularly given the difficult political situation.
The United States is fully committed to the Dayton Accords and fully supportive of the High Representative. We remain hopeful that the elected leaders of Bosnia and Herzegovina will forge a consensus around defense, constitutional, and other reforms necessary to peace and stability—and, ultimately, for EU and NATO integration.
Thank you, Mr. President.
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