Statement by H.E. Mr Vladimir Drobnjak, Permanent Representative of the Republic of Croatia to the United Nations, at the Security Council Debate on Bosnia and Herzegovina

New York, 12 May 2015

Madam President,

Let me start by joining other speakers in welcoming the High Representative Valentin Inzko and expressing our appreciation for his briefing and the report, as well as for the personal efforts he has been tirelessly investing in carrying out his mandate.

Croatia aligns itself with the statement delivered by the European Union and I would like to add several remarks in my national capacity.

For Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina is not only a neighbouring country with which we share a thousand kilometres long border; it is a country with which we nourish friendly, partnership relations, and that we consider our ally.

The fact that the Croatian President, Mrs. Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović, chose Bosnia’s capital Sarajevo for her first foreign bilateral visit since taking office in February this year, tellingly confirms the importance Croatia assigns to its relations with Bosnia and Herzegovina.  

Croatia strongly supports the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Its stability and prosperity is of paramount importance for us. We will continue to advocate for sustained attention of the international community to Bosnia and Herzegovina, with a goal of achieving concrete progress in the country's process of European integration.

Madam President,

Ensuring genuine equality between its three constituent peoples is an important, necessary element for achieving stability and functionality of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Six months after the elections, all authorities have finally been established in Bosnia and Herzegovina. We note with satisfaction that Croats, numerically smallest of the three constituent peoples in the country, after many years finally have a legitimate member of the Presidency and are represented in all levels of the government, in an equal and legitimate manner.

The last thing Bosnia and Herzegovina needs is the secessionist and inflammatory rhetoric. For that reason we condemn recent statements and actions by Republika Srpska, such as the adoption of the Declaration on Free and Independent Republika Srpska, as well as the controversial interpretation of what happened in Srebrenica 20 years ago. Such acts are completely unacceptable.

On the other hand, Mr. Milorad Dodik’s visit to Srebrenica in April could be an encouraging harbinger in the reconciliation process. 

The 20th anniversary of the genocide in Srebrenica this July will be another opportunity for all of us to honor the memory of the victims of this worst atrocity in Europe since the end of the Second World War. What happened in Srebrenica constituted genocide, as established by the ICTY. Attempts to deny it are simply unacceptable.

Madam President,

We strongly believe that the steady and forward looking European integration process is the most efficient and constructive way to reach the internal consolidation of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Croatia firmly supports the new EU approach for Bosnia and Herzegovina. It put the country back on the EU agenda and provided it with a real opportunity to achieve progress through comprehensive and feasible reforms.

We fully support the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s engagement on this new EU initiative with the hope that they will continue to initiate much needed political and economic reforms. In order to succeed, these reforms will, besides improved administrative capacities and lots of hard work, require consensus of all political parties.

Croatian MFA, Mrs. Vesna Pusić, visited Sarajevo last month and afterwards organised a ministerial working breakfast on the margins of the EU Foreign Affairs Council on 20 April in Luxembourg. It was an excellent opportunity to exchange views on the preparation of the initial reform agenda and reaffirm once again the EU perspective of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Croatia welcomes entering into force of the Stabilization and Association Agreement (SAA) between the EU and Bosnia and Herzegovina as of 1 June 2015. This is its first contractual relationship with the EU, providing a structured blueprint for far-reaching political, economic and social reforms.  

As far as Bosnia and Herzegovina’s advancement to NATO is concerned, we urge the newly elected political leaders to intensify the efforts on the implementation of the six parties’ political agreement on the issue of military property and to work constructively to implement the agreement in order to start the first Membership Action Plan (MAP) cycle as soon as possible.

We condemn the recent terrorist attack on the police station in Zvornik and express condolences to the family of the police officer who was killed in the attack. We expect the competent authorities and institutions in Bosnia and Herzegovina at all levels to cooperate closely in order to prevent such incidents in the future.

Having this in mind, the EU military mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina (EUFOR) with an executive mandate, remains of vital importance.

Madam President,

We regret that the Additional Protocol to the EU Stabilization and Association Agreement with Bosnia and Herzegovina has not yet been concluded. It is long overdue. Therefore, it is crucial that Bosnia and Herzegovina re-engages in constructive discussions with the EU in order to agree the SAA’s technical adaptation as a matter of urgency. We also expect that Bosnia and Herzegovina will correct its present conduct regarding some customs control related issues on parts of its border with Croatia.

In conclusion, I will echo my opening remarks by stressing that Croatia fully supports Bosnia and Herzegovina and extends to it a hand of true friendship and partnership. Bosnia and Herzegovina deserves a secure and prosperous future and Croatia will spare no effort to provide its help along this challenging road.

I thank you.