UN: EU Statement on the Situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina

UN Security Council; The Situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina
New York, 8 November 2006

Statement by H.E. Ms. Kirsti Lintonen, Ambassador, Permanent Representative of Finland to the United Nations, on behalf of the European Union

Mr. President,

I have the pleasure to speak on behalf of the European Union.

The Acceding Countries Bulgaria and Romania, the Candidate Countries Turkey, Croatia and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia*, the EFTA country Norway, member of the European Economic Area, as well as Ukraine and the Republic of Moldova align themselves with this declaration.

I would like to thank the High Representative and EU Special Representative, Dr. Christian Schwarz-Schilling for his comprehensive presentation on developments in Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as for his first periodical report to the Security Council.  The EU welcomes the approach Dr. Schwarz-Schilling has taken in his office by offering advice and support to the national authorities rather than acting on their behalf. Strengthening local ownership is essential in transition from stabilisation towards EU integration.

This year has been crucial for Bosnia and Herzegovina in many ways. The EU is pleased with the peaceful and orderly conduct of the October general elections, and now looks forward to timely formation of the new government. The EU is ready to work with any coalition genuinely engaged in advancing the reforms that Bosnia and Herzegovina needs for its EU rapprochement.

The first negotiation round of the Stabilisation and Association Agreement was held in January. At that time we anticipated that the negotiations could be concluded by the end of the year. Unfortunately, the situation now seems different. While we are glad to note that Bosnia and Herzegovina has made progress on the negotiations at the technical level, we have to regret that many key reforms have been delayed in 2006, in particular the police reform.

The EU has made it clear that the implementation of the police reform based on the Agreement on Police Restructuring of October 2005 is an indispensable condition for concluding negotiations on the Stabilisation and Association Agreement. We expect that the European perspective will encourage all parties in Bosnia and Herzegovina to work together in order to overcome this obstacle as soon as possible.

Conclusion of negotiations depends also on Bosnia and Herzegovina's cooperation with the International Criminal Tribunal for former Yugoslavia (ICTY). More decisive action, notably by the authorities in Republika Srpska, and cooperation with neighbouring countries are needed in order to arrest and transfer to The Hague those indictees still at large.

The European Commission publishes its regular progress report on Bosnia and Herzegovina today, 8th of November. The report will give a comprehensive assessment on Bosnia and Herzegovina's pace on its European path. The EU will continue to assist financially Bosnia and Herzegovina in its European course through the Instrument for Pre-accession Assistance (IPA), which enters into force in the beginning of 2007 and provides almost €11.5 billion for the Western Balkans countries and Turkey over the next seven years. 

In spring Bosnia and Herzegovina was proceeding well with its constitutional reform. Regrettably the progress has stalled. While noting that reform is not a pre-condition for a Stabilisation and Association Agreement it is clear that Bosnia and Herzegovina needs more functional and sustainable state structures that are better prepared for EU integration. Therefore constitutional reform is essential for the future of the country. The EU is ready to assist Bosnia and Herzegovina in this important effort.

Mr. President,

The EU, which already provides a framework of stability to the country with two ESDP missions - Eufor Althea and EUPM, indicated in May its readiness in principle to reinforce the Union’s engagement in Bosnia and Herzegovina in the context of the envisaged closure of the Office of the High Representative (OHR). The Secretary General/High Representative Javier Solana and the EU Commissioner for Enlargement Olli Rehn prepared in early October a joint report on the reinforced role of the EU in Bosnia and Herzegovina. This report was welcomed by EU Foreign Ministers on 17th of October. The report serves as a basis for further work within the EU.

The Peace Implementation Council's decision of June to close down the Office of the High Representative by 30 June 2007 and a forthcoming review and confirmation of this decision in February 2007 will be taken into account in the EU's planning process and action taking in this matter.

The EU fully supports the EU perspective of Bosnia and Herzegovina. It is important that this is visible also in the lives of Bosnia and Herzegovina's citizens. To that end, the EU will soon start the negotiations on visa facilitation with Bosnia and Herzegovina in order to facilitate travelling to the European Union member states. In parallel, the negotiations on the Readmission agreement will be conducted. It is important that Bosnia and Herzegovina will do its utmost to implement reforms in the field of justice and home affairs, necessary for successful negotiations.

Thank you Mr. President.

* Croatia and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process.