Statement by Ambassador Wittig in the Security Coucil debate on Bosnia and Herzegovina
Thank you, Mr. President,
· I would like to join my colleagues in thanking the High Representative in Bosnia and Herzegovina for his comprehensive and frank briefing. We welcome the OHR’s significant contribution to stability, peace and sustainable development in BiH.
· Germany aligns itself to the EU statement to be delivered later on.
· We are pleased to see that the security situation continues to be stable. However, the last few months have seen few positive political developments in BiH. On the contrary, unilateral attacks on the state of BiH and its institutions have increased. There is a disconcerting lack of readiness to compromise and to overcome nationalist agendas.
· In particular, Germany is concerned by the announcement of the Republika Srpska to hold a referendum on key state level judicial institutions. The attempt to undermine the judiciary is alarming. Disrespect for the rule of law damages BiH’s potential for EU accession. We should be clear and unequivocal about it.
· Germany welcomes and fully supports the current initiatives taken by the European External Action Service, the European Commission and OHR to find a solution for the issue of the referendum. If these endeavours fail, further measures have to be considered. The HR has Germany’s full support. The initiative to hold a referendum is an assault on the political consensus rooted in the Dayton Accords, to which we are all committed.
· As a matter of utmost priority, BiH needs to form an inclusive state level government in order to tackle the reform priorities ahead. BiH cannot afford to lose more time, if it does not want to fall behind in the EU integration process. It will have to adapt the cumbersome structures of the BiH constitution and to bring them in line with the European Convention on Human Rights and the requirements of the EU integration process. BiH needs to be able to speak with one voice when negotiating with the EU – and in other international fora. Germany will continue to provide its support for BiH in that field.
· The current political crisis has again brought to the fore that some BIH politicians are unwilling to place compromise and the well-being of the country and its citizens above their own nationalist agendas.
· Since Dayton, the policy approach of the international community has not been sufficient to create incentives for compromise in BiH. Dayton must remain the foundation of the state. But BIH needs to build a European house on it.
· Therefore, the EU Foreign Ministers have decided to reinforce the EU presence. This will create positive incentives – the leverage of the integration processes. And it will help to react when BIH’s stability is intentionally undermined.
· Let me be very clear: for the EU respect for the rule of law and stability of potential candidate countries is crucial. We will not accept falling fundamentally short of these values. The EU Foreign Affairs Council on March 21st has taken a decision on restrictive measures against individuals putting at risk stability and integrity of BIH. If talks fail, the EU might feel obliged to examine the application of these measures.
· Finally, let me raise an issue relevant for the future work of the OHR as well as other international organizations: to safeguard OHR’s footprint in stabilizing BIH, a sustainable solution for immunities of present and former OHR personnel needs to be found.
· A stable, economically prosperous and democratic Bosnia, irrevocably proceeding on the path of EU integration is the best guarantor for peaceful development in the region. Germany will continue to provide assistance to this development.
Thank you, Mr. President.