Sumario: November 11, 2004: Statement by H.E. Ambassador Dirk Jan van den Berg, Permanent Representative of the Netherlands to the United Nations, on behalf of the European Union, to the Security Council, on 'The Situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina' (New York)
I have the honour to speak on behalf of the European Union. The Candidate Countries Bulgaria, Romania, Turkey, and Croatia , and the EFTA country Iceland, member of the European Economic Area, align themselves with this statement.
Let me start with thanking Lord Ashdown and Minister Ivanic for their briefings to the Council on developments in Bosnia and Herzegovina. We commend the contribution of the High Representative to peace and stability in the country. The European Union continues to support his policy of strengthening state institutions, reviving the economy, and promoting the rule of law. The report shows that Bosnia and Herzegovina is on the right track, even though the EU remains concerned about the continuing failure of the Republika Srpska to cooperate fully with the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY).
The Security Council will also be briefed by the Secretary-General of NATO, Mr. Jaap de Hoop Scheffer. He will look back at the role of NATO in Bosnia and Herzegovina since the Dayton Peace Agreements of 1995. As you are aware, NATO decided in June in Istanbul to terminate SFOR on 2 December 2004. At that date, the European Union will assume the main peace stabilization role under the Dayton Agreements. NATO will remain in Bosnia and Herzegovina, through its Headquarter in Sarajevo, providing advice on defence reform, and undertaking certain operational supporting tasks.
The EU commends NATO for their constructive role during the past years. The NATO-led operations IFOR and SFOR have been key factors in establishing stability in Bosnia and Herzegovina and in implementing Dayton.
The Security Council welcomed in resolution 1551 the transition from NATO to EU. In anticipation of the final authorization by the Council, let me take this opportunity to underline the significance of the upcoming transition. Significant, first and foremost for Bosnia and Herzegovina, but also for the EU itself and the United Nations.
Operation Althea, as the EU military mission will be called, is the final element in a comprehensive policy of the European Union towards Bosnia and Herzegovina. It is also part of a broader EU strategy for the Balkans. The combined EU-activities in the political, economic, development and now security field should mutually re-inforce each other. The ultimate objective is to put Bosnia and Herzegovina on a track towards the EU. This will be achieved through the strengthened Stabilisation and Association Process. The EU military mission will complement this process, as well as other EU-activities such as the EU Police Mission, the EU Monitoring Mission, and the CARDS development programme.
The comprehensive approach reflects the European belief that the future of Bosnia and Herzegovina lies firmly in Europe. It exemplifies the long term commitment of the EU. Given this commitment, it is now up to the Bosnian population to make a vision come true. They will have to make the eventual choice of joining the European political and economic union. Such a choice requires fundamental reforms of state-, economic-, and judicial structures. Equally, they will have to confirm the decision to join the European community of values. Such a decision requires an environment of tolerance, dialogue, and respect for religious freedoms. And, it requires a tough stand in words and deeds against impunity of war criminals.
The right political will and popular support by the Bosnians, combined with the comprehensive role of the EU could, and should, lead Bosnia and Herzegovina away from conflict into a stable and peaceful future. We wish the Special Representative of the EU, Lord Ashdown, all the best of luck when he will be increasingly replacing his 'High Representative hat' with his 'European hat'.
Let me say a word about the significance for the EU and UN. Operation Althea will be the first major military mission of the European Security and Defense Policy. It is our belief that, as such, the operation bears significance not only for the EU but for the United Nations as well. Regional organizations have an increasingly important role to play in peace keeping and peace building.
This is not just a matter of resources given the recent surge in peacekeeping operations. It is also an acknowledgement of the principle of subsidiarity. Which organization has the most added value in a given situation? Regional organizations embody regional values. As such they have a deep understanding of the local situation. At the same time, they are often better recognized by the affected population. In addition, regional organizations can frequently offer a comprehensive approach not only entailing security and political arrangements but trade and aid aspects as well. This combination of policy instruments increases the chances of alleviating immediate plights in a post-conflict situation while at the same time working on the root problems of a conflict.
It is our belief that we are just in the initial phase of increased co-operation between the UN and regional organizations. Under the leadership of the UN, as the primary responsible body for peace and security, we look forward to the development of creative and constructive partnerships between the UN and regional organizations. The European Union sincerely hopes that Operation Althea will prove to be an outstanding precedent for such co-operation.
Likewise, we of course hope that Operation Althea will prove to be to the benefit of the people of Bosnia and Herzegovina in their quest for durable peace.