Thank you Mr. President. Let me once again welcome High Representative Inzko to the Council and thank him for his comprehensive report of developments over the past six months in Bosnia and Herzegovina. We greatly appreciate the High Representative’s commitment to implementing his mandate under the General Framework Agreement for Peace.
Mr. President, the United States congratulates Bosnia and Herzegovina on completing its first census since 1991. Reliably quantifying the demographic changes that have occurred over the past 22 years is essential for formulating effective social and economic policy. We hope the census results will be used constructively to inform policy decisions as the results are released in the coming months.
We also welcome the initiative underway in the Federation to improve the efficiency and responsiveness of governance in that entity. We were proud to cosponsor last May's Federation reform conference, and we hope that the Federation parliament will soon consider the amendments and other legislative changes proposed by the Federation reform experts group, with a view towards implementation of the reforms by next year's elections.
Mr. President, the United States strongly supports Bosnia and Herzegovina’s aspirations for its integration into the European Union and NATO. In spite of recent blockages, we continue to view the Euro-Atlantic integration process as the surest and most expeditious path to the country’s and the region’s long-term stability and prosperity. We hope the interests of all citizens will be placed above narrow personal or ethnic agendas.
We strongly support the EU’s efforts to facilitate an agreement among Bosnians that will lead to implementation of the European Court of Human Rights’ 2009 judgment in the Sejdić-Finci case, a prerequisite for Bosnia and Herzegovina to apply for EU candidacy. Four years after the court’s ruling, this case should not hold the country’s EU future hostage.
We also look forward to progress on registration of defense properties to meet NATO’s condition for activating its Membership Action Plan. With last summer’s Constitutional Court ruling confirming state ownership of all former Yugoslav state property, including defense properties, a path was cleared to register those properties necessary to meet the MAP condition with the state of Bosnia and Herzegovina as soon as possible.
Mr. President, while some Republika Srpska politicians continue to make divisive, anti-Dayton statements, it is important to underscore that state institutions, such as the State Court and Prosecutors Office, are crucial for strengthening the rule of law and meeting European integration standards. In addition, a focus on developing and implementing sustainable economic policies will assure continued progress for Republika Srpska.
Finally, Mr. President, we continue to stand by Bosnia and Herzegovina as it overcomes the past. The continuing discovery of mass grave sites and ongoing politicization of war crimes cases are further reminders of the need to maintain progress on reconciliation.
In light of the ongoing challenges in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the United States continues to strongly support High Representative Inzko and his office, as well as the renewal of the EUFOR mandate under Chapter VII, which we co-sponsored this morning. It remains essential for the international community to retain these stabilization instruments given the work that remains to assure progress on the Euro-Atlantic reform agenda and to see the continued and full implementation of the Dayton Peace Accords.
Mr. President, the international community must remain committed to supporting the aspirations of the people of Bosnia and Herzegovina for a peaceful and prosperous Euro-Atlantic future and their efforts to promote reconciliation. We look forward to continuing to work closely with our partners on the Peace Implementation Council Steering Board, among others, to do so.
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