Sommaire: EU Presidency Statement - Security Council Open Briefing on Bosnia and Herzegovina (New York: 18 April 2006)
Security Council Open Briefing on Bosnia and Herzegovina; Statement by Ambassador Gerhard Pfanzelter, Permanent Representative of Austria to the United Nations, on behalf of the European Union.
I have the honor 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, as well as Ukraine and the Republic of Moldova align themselves with this declaration.
Let me start by thanking the High Representative and EU Special Representative Dr. Christian Schwarz-Schilling, who has spoken to the Council for the first time since he took office in February this year, for his briefing on developments in Bosnia and Herzegovina. We would also like to warmly welcome the participation of the Chairman of the Council of Ministers of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Mr. Adnan Terzic.
The EU commends the contribution of the High Representative and his office to peace and stability in the country and we particularly welcome and support his approach of promoting ownership while continuing to strengthen state institutions, reviving the economy and implementing the rule of law.
At the EU/Western Balkans Foreign Ministers meeting on 11 March the participants reaffirmed their full support for the agenda set out at the Thessaloniki summit in 2003, as well as for the Stabilisation and Association Process which will remain the framework for the European course of the Western Balkans. The EU confirmed that the future of the Western Balkans lies in the European Union. In practical terms, the EU supports this course through its various instruments of financial and technical assistance by the European Commission, the Common Foreign Security and Defence Policies as well as via traditional bilateral support of the 25 Member States. In Bosnia and Herzegovina, the EU has been strongly involved in supporting among others the sectors of Justice, Security and Defence.
In this respect, the European Union's military mission EUFOR/ALTHEA, working in close cooperation with the NATO presence, has assumed the main peace stabilisation role under the Dayton Peace Agreement. It has proven an important factor in maintaining the security and stability on the ground and the Liaison and Observation Teams have become a valuable element in the confidence building process.
Similarly, the European Union Police Mission EUPM has provided useful advice and support to Bosnia and Herzegovina's own efforts in bringing its police structures fully in line with European standards. The International Community's continued support is needed in order to implement police restructuring as a key reform issue for Bosnia and Herzegovina and a requirement for further EU integration.
Finally, the EU continues to provide significant financial support to Bosnia and Herzegovina. Since 2000, a total of more than € 500 million has been allocated to Bosnia and Herzegovina under the CARDS assistance programme, of which some € 50 million will be committed in 2006.
The EU welcomes the political agreement reached on 18 March on constitutional reform. The agreement constitutes a significant step forward, towards making Bosnia and Herzegovina's state institutions more functional and efficient. We urge Bosnia and Herzegovina to ensure that the necessary legislative steps are taken in order to implement the constitutional amendments in time for the October 2006 elections. The process of constitutional reform must continue after the elections to solve outstanding issues and to make Bosnia and Herzegovina a fully fiscally self-sustainable, efficient and multi-national state that serves its citizens.
The EU Council also welcomes the progress made on the negotiations for a Stabilisation and Association Agreement with Bosnia and Herzegovina since the opening of negotiations in November 2005. We encourage the relevant authorities in Bosnia and Herzegovina to continue to make swift progress in these negotiations and to implement the necessary reforms. The conclusion of these negotiations will establish a comprehensive formal, contractual relationship between the EU and Bosnia and Herzegovina. For Bosnia and Herzegovina, this will mark another important step on the long path to eventual membership of the European Union.
In this context, let me recall that the pace and conclusion of negotiations will depend in particular on Bosnia and Herzegovina's progress in developing its legislative framework and administrative capacity, in implementing police reform in compliance with the Agreement on Police Restructuring of October 2005, in adopting and implementing all necessary Public Broadcasting legislation, and in achieving full cooperation with the ICTY. Full cooperation with the ICTY is essential to achieve lasting reconciliation in the region. The EU Council of Minister has therefore repeatedly urged both Serbia and Montenegro and Bosnia and Herzegovina to take decisive and immediate action to ensure that all remaining fugitive indictees, including in particular Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic, are finally brought to justice without delay.
In the past, the High Representatives in Bosnia and Herzegovina have used their powers effectively to defend the spirit of the Dayton Peace Agreement, to overcome political blockages, to tackle the support network for Persons indicted for war crimes, or to boost the reform process. Whereas the authority of the High Representative remains an important factor in the support to meet these objectives, the European Union fully agrees with the HR/EUSR that ten years after the conflict, it is now time for Bosnia and Herzegovina to take a greater degree of ownership in these processes and to stand on its own two feet. The European Union therefore welcomes the intention of the new High Representative Dr. Schwarz-Schilling to restrict the use of the Bonn Powers, to the extent possible, to the areas of ICTY cooperation and Dayton stability.
With regard to the issue of police certification, the European Union notes that the PIC Steering Board at the Political Directors' level on 15 March expressed its support for a limited OHR role if the UN were ready to take a lead in resolving the situation. In that context, the EU notes that EUPM does not have an executive mandate, but has agreed that EUPM should stand ready to provide limited logistical support to the UN, within the existing budget and without prejudice to the implementation of its mandate, in addressing the outstanding issues of police certification.
Bosnia and Herzegovina has still much work to do in implementing the reforms and meeting the European Union integration benchmarks. It will require continued determination and resolve on the part of the authorities of Bosnia and Herzegovina to meet those challenges and to maintain and continue the reform processes.
As a potential candidate of the EU, Bosnia and Herzegovina enjoys a privileged relationship with the European Union. We have been standing steadfastly at the side of the people of Bosnia and Herzegovina throughout the last ten years by providing significant financial, military and human resources and will continue our support to Bosnia and Herzegovina in the future.