Thank you, Mr. President. Let me begin by welcoming High Representative Inzko back to the Security Council. Thank you, Ambassador Inzko, for your comprehensive briefing and your service in support of the Dayton Peace Agreement.
Mr. President, the signing of the Dayton Accords helped Bosnia-Herzegovina end a terrible conflict and established a framework for a lasting peace. This framework has been the cornerstone of the country’s stability for over sixteen years. Today, Bosnia-Herzegovina has demonstrated that it is a strong and responsible member of the international community in a variety of ways, including through its tenure on the Security Council and its continued participation in the International Security Force in Afghanistan. Bosnian leaders have shown that cooperation and consensus is possible on complicated matters of international peace and security, and we remain hopeful that they will continue to work together to overcome their internal political difficulties. In order for the country to keep pace with progress elsewhere in the region, it must be able to function as a state that can deliver results for all its citizens, regardless of their ethnicity.
Mr. President, I’d like to make three points in reaction to the High Representative’s report.
First, the United States remains fully committed to the General Framework for Peace established by the Dayton Accords. We are concerned by continuing challenges to this framework, including statements that undermine its constitutional arrangements and challenge Bosnia-Herzegovina’s statehood. Such statements are unacceptable. Bosnian politicians should demonstrate their commitment to the Dayton Framework and their willingness to abide by the decisions of state institutions. During our debate on this issue last May, we agreed with the High Representative’s assessment that the conclusions adopted by the Republika Srpska National Assembly in April presented a serious challenge to the Framework. While we note today that the National Assembly repealed its decision to hold a referendum on the High Representative’s decisions, we share Ambassador Inzko’s concern that other controversial conclusions have not been repealed. The High Representative has our full support in condemning 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 the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Bosnia-Herzegovina. As I stated in the May debate, we will continue to consider our own measures in support of Dayton and Bosnian state institutions, should any become necessary.
The United States also agrees with the need to safeguard the Office of the High Representative's efforts by protecting it and its staff from politically motivated legal actions. We recognize that the Dayton Accords provide for immunity only within Bosnia-Herzegovina and neighboring countries, and believe that we must find mechanisms to provide protection against unwarranted court proceedings in other countries as well. We understand that some States are not in a position to adopt domestic legislation as the United States has done and we welcome a more thorough discussion with partners on this issue.
Second, Bosnia-Herzegovina needs functioning political institutions. We agree with the High Representative’s assessment that cooperation within the tri-partite Presidency has improved, and we remain optimistic about the Presidency’s continued and increasing coordination. However, thirteen months after general elections, the country remains mired in a political stalemate. This stalemate has impeded formation of a new state-level government, hampered progress on governmental reforms necessary for Euro-Atlantic integration, and contributed to credit agencies downgrading the country’s outlook. To be considered for EU candidate status, Bosnia-Herzegovina must pass laws on a census and state aid as well as begin a serious effort to comply with the European Court of Human Rights ruling in the Sejdic-Finci case to provide equal rights for all citizens, including members of national minorities. To participate in NATO’s Membership Action Plan, Bosnia-Herzegovina must address state registration of defense properties. We welcome that party leaders have engaged in a series of discussions on these issues along with government formation and we call on those leaders to reach agreements which will result in concrete progress in these areas as soon as possible. While the United States looks forward to the day that the Office of the High Representative is no longer needed, the outstanding items on the 5+2 agenda must first be fulfilled, and we note the lack of progress in this area during the reporting period.
My third point, Mr. President, is that the United States supports the European Union’s enhanced presence under its Special Representative Peter Sorensen. We underscore the importance that he and his office have the resources, the political support, and the operational flexibility to guide Bosnia-Herzegovina on the path towards European integration. We look forward to working closely with the Special Representative, and strongly endorse close coordination between the offices of the Special Representative and the High Representative.
We also note that EUFOR’s military presence continues to contribute to a safe and secure environment, and should be maintained. We therefore support renewal of the EUFOR mandate.
In closing, Mr. President, let me reiterate that the United States remains committed to working in close coordination with the High Representative, the European Union, our partners on the Peace Implementation Council to support the Bosnian people on their path toward Eur-Altantic integration and a peaceful and prosperous future.
Thank you, Mr. President.
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