Security Council: Statement by Ambassador Wittig on Bosnia and Herzegovina
(Security Council: Statement as delivered by Ambassador Wittig in a Debate on the situation n Bosnia and Herzegovina)
"Thank you, Mr. President !
Let me begin by thanking Ambassador Inzko for his comprehensive and informative briefing. Germany aligns itself with the EU statement to be delivered later in this debate.
I would like to focus my remarks on three key points today:
First, and most importantly for the Security Council, the security situation in BIH has remained calm and stable. Since its beginning in 2004, EUFOR ALTHEA has not had to intervene a single time to restore peace. Most recently, the fifth local elections since the end of the war were carried out in a calm environment.
Authorities in BIH have thus proven capable of dealing with threats to the safe and secure environment. Based on this assessment, the reconfiguration of Operation ALTHEA was completed by 1 September. With a reduced number of forces based in Bosnia-Herzegovina, ALTHEA is successfully focusing on capacity-building and training.
My second point concerns the current political situation in Bosnia:
Ambassador Inzko’s briefing and the latest EU progress report provide a relatively grim analysis of the state of reforms in the country. It's true, there is a lack of a shared vision on the part of the political leadership for the overall direction of BIH, and it's worrisome. Yet we have also witnessed important signs of progress, particularly at the beginning of this year, such as the establishment of a new state-level government, agreement on a national budget and new laws on state aid and a census.
We have made clear to the political leaders in BIH that they should place the interest of their country as a whole and the well-being of their citizens at the heart of their efforts, by moving Bosnia-Herzegovina steadfastly forward on the reform track towards EU accession.
An important step in this regard was the agreement between the political leaders in BIH and the EU on a road map which identifies key requirements for BIH’s path towards Europe. The most imminent of the challenges ahead remains the long-overdue implementation of the “Sejdic-Finci” ruling by the European Court of Human Rights on the right of minorities to be elected to the Bosnian presidency and the second chamber of parliament.
The EU has both the political will and the necessary instruments to best support BIH in this endeavour. The increased EU presence in the field and the strengthened mandate of the EU Special Representative re-affirm the EU’s commitment towards BIH.
This leads me to my third and last point, the international community’s engagement in BIH in the future:
Germany wholeheartedly welcomes the contribution to peace and stability made by the High Representative and his office over the past 17 years. After the war ended in 1995, close monitoring and executive control by the international community was undoubtedly necessary.
Today, however, these policies serve rather as an impediment to political leaders’ accountability to their electorate and their ownership of the reform process.
Instead of sticking to the institutional set-up of the past, we need to focus on concepts and instruments that can initiate forward-looking developments. With the EU perspective of BIH finally occupying centre stage, we can afford to relieve the OHR of tasks that are better fulfilled by the EU and its representatives on the ground. We therefore welcome the decision to suspend international supervision in the Brcko District, where the EU has instead opened a new regional office. Further progress in this regard is needed.
Mr. President, allow me to remind member states of a still unresolved issue, the question of immunity. In order to safeguard OHR’s footprint in stabilizing BIH, a sustainable and comprehensive answer to the question of immunity from legal proceedings of present and former OHR staff has to be found. We hope for early progress on this issue and invite members to join us in the necessary discussions.
I thank you, Mr. President !"