Statement by H.E. Mr. Vladimir Drobnjak Permanent Representative of the Republic of Croatia at the Security Council Debate on Bosnia and Herzegovina
New York, 15 May 2014
At the outset, please allow me to extend my sincere congratulations to your Excellency on assuming the presidency of the Security Council for the month of May.
Let me join other speakers in welcoming High Representative Valentin Inzko and expressing our thanks for his briefing and the report. I would also like to extend our appreciation for the personal efforts he has been investing in carrying out his difficult mandate.
Croatia aligns itself with the statement delivered by the EU but I would like to add several remarks in my national capacity.
The importance Croatia attaches to the territorial integrity, stability, functionality and well-being of Bosnia and Herzegovina is of the highest degree. We firmly believe that a stable and functional B-H is essential for the stability and prosperity of South East Europe and beyond.
The Dayton Peace Agreement created a specific political system based primarily on ethnic representation which rests on genuine equality between three constitutive peoples. This equality is a prerequisite for the stability of B-H. However, a complicated institutional set-up created by the Dayton is often being exploited by political elites, resulting in the present political and institutional stalemate.
The protests in Sarajevo and other cities in Bosnia and Herzegovina earlier this year were a clear expression of citizens’ frustration with the disfunctionality of the system and the deteriorating socio-economic situation in the country. These events were a direct consequence of the lack of progressive steps by political elites and an indication that B-H must embark on the reform processes in order to ensure stability and prosperity. Otherwise, the country might face further destabilization, including one along the ethnic lines.
We encourage the B-H political leaders to rise above their narrow ethnic interests in the upcoming election campaign. Citizens of B-H deserve a fresh perspective which incorporates recognition and the fulfilment of their social and economic needs.
We share the High Representative’s concern and condemnation of those in the Republika Srpska who continue to challenge the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The secessionist and divisive rhetoric by the President and other high officials of Republika Srpska is completely unacceptable.
In order to achieve our common goal - a stable, functioning and prosperous B-H, we need to come up with a realistic strategy that will take into account the situation on the ground.
The clear prospect of the EU membership is beyond doubt the best stability and security framework within which B-H can achieve steady progress. The EU accession process serves as the best blueprint for the state building reforms, strengthening administrative capacities and good governance – all of which B-H is in dire need of.
We encourage the B-H leaders to find the necessary political will in order to implement the Sejdić-Finci ruling, and to pursue other reforms, including those in the military sector.
Envisioning a tailor-made approach for B-H European integration processes is essential. We should consider identifying concrete deliverables, beyond the Sejdić-Finci ruling, that would keep the country’s EU integration process tangible and feasible. This should not mean lowering the criteria, but helping B-H to meet all of them. The fundamental logic of such approach is in its conditionality: the pace and progress of B-H integration in the EU should be directly linked to the pace and progress of its political, legal and administrative reforms, and every substantial progress should be equally rewarded.
Croatia stresses the importance of the continuous high-level engagement on behalf of the EU and international community. At the same time, we expect to see the B-H authorities engage constructively in recent initiatives of the European Commission, EU Special Representative in B-H and some Member States, the aim of which is to give impetus to the EU integration process which is now lagging behind.
We support all initiatives aimed at improving economic and social cohesion, active engagement of civil society and youth, as well as improving the institution-building capacities and their functionality and efficiency.
Let me conclude by reiterating the readiness of Croatia, as the only EU Member State that directly borders B-H, to continue to cooperate closely with our neighbour on all the issues and to provide B-H with strong and continuous political and technical support in the process of its EU integrations.
We remain conscious of all legitimate needs and rights of Croats in B-H, the smallest but by all means equally important of the constitutive peoples in B-H. We shall keep extending our support to them.
Bosnia and Herzegovina’s troubled history is at present, unfortunately, often much more a source of tensions and disputes than the springboard for a better future. This is a reason more to intensify our joint efforts in extending B-H all support and assistance required.
On a positive note, just a few days ago we witnessed the return of famous Sarajevo's City Hall to its old glory after being devastated during the siege of the city in the 1990s. The restoration of this iconic building, which is the symbol of Sarajevo, should be a harbinger of the better days that await this important European country.
Thank you Mr. President.