I have the pleasure of speaking on behalf of the European Union. The Candidate Countries Turkey, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Croatia*, the Countries of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidates Albania, Montenegro, as well as the Republic of Moldova and Georgia, align themselves with this declaration.
On 31 October, the Peace Implementation Council Steering Board issued a strong declaration and stated that the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina was now of utmost concern to the international community. This is a warning signal that must be taken very seriously indeed. Bosnia-Herzegovina has seen some positive developments in some areas during the last few years, such as the invitation for Bosnia and Herzegovina to join NATO’s Partnership for Peace Program in November 2006 and the ratification of the Central European Free Trade Agreement earlier this year. However, recently progress has been scarce as confirmed by the European Commission's Progress Report of this year.
The European Union too is deeply perturbed over the deteriorating political situation. It underlines the responsibility of the political leaders of Bosnia and Herzegovina to stop undermining the foundations of the State to ensure the full functioning of its institutions and to advance reforms which are essential to move forward. The criticism against the measures imposed recently by the High Representative/EU Special Representative challenges the legitimacy and authority of the Dayton Peace Agreement, of the High Representative, of the Peace Implementation Council and of the international community as a whole.
The European Union reminds all parties to cooperate fully with the Office of the High Representative/EU Special Representative as its decisions must be fully respected and promptly implemented. The EU fully supports the measures that the High Representative/EU Special Representative has taken with the aim to improve the functioning of the state institutions.
Agreement on police reform remains a key priority and one of the four necessary conditions for conclusion of a Stabilisation and Association Agreement with the European Union.
We must also remind that the conclusion of the Stabilization and Association Agreement depends not only on the implementation of police reform, but also on three other key priorities: building up the country’s public administration, implementing public broadcasting legislation and the cooperation with the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, will be required. Substantial progress including implementation in these areas is essential for continued European Union integration.
The Mostar Declaration of 28 October 2007 is a welcome step forward, which can serve as the starting point for a positive re-engagement of the government coalition parties. It is now important that this commitment is followed by proper and concrete action, which would allow Bosnia and Herzegovina to move forward towards a Stabilisation and Association Agreement.
There is a positive agenda for Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the European Union will continue to make its contribution so it can be realized. We therefore call upon all parties in Bosnia and Herzegovina to work together constructively to overcome the remaining obstacles as soon as possible. To this end, the political leadership must assume its responsibility to all citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and overcome the current lack of progress.
Constitutional reform, although not a precondition for concluding the Stabilization and Association Agreement, is essential for the future of Bosnia and Herzegovina. In order to meet the challenges of European integration, Bosnia and Herzegovina will need an efficient, functional and affordable constitutional framework. The European Union expects that Bosnia and Herzegovina's political leaders, in line with the discussions in Mostar of 28 October, are ready to seriously advance this reform. It is disappointing to see that progress has stalled.
The European Union calls on the political leaders of the country to stop undermining the foundations of the State, to ensure the full functioning of State institutions and to advance reforms which are essential for Bosnia and Herzegovina to move forward.
The European Union reiterates its full support for the Office of the High Representative/EU Special Representative, Mr. Lajcak. It underlines the need for all parties, including those in the Republika Srpska, to fully respect and promptly implement his decisions. It appreciates the High Representative’s work with the people and institutions of Bosnia and Herzegovina and to his decisions and proposed actions, which are fully in line with his mandate and the Constitution of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The European Union appreciates Mr. Lajcak’s efforts to ensure that Bosnia and Herzegovina evolves into a peaceful and viable democracy on course for integration into European institutions. We fully support his efforts to tackle the dysfunctionality of state institutions, in particular his recent decisions in order to streamline the decision-making process in the Council of Ministers and the Parliament. Challenges to the legitimacy and authority of the High Representative by certain political leaders are unacceptable. We expect his comprehensive presentation on developments in Bosnia and Herzegovina as well as his periodical reports, which will give us an important assessment on the country’s pace on the European path. The European Union also regrets the involvement of some countries in the internal affairs of Bosnia-Herzegovina and urges all countries to fully respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Bosnia-Herzegovina as has been determined by the Dayton Peace Accords.
To conclude, Mr. President, stressing once again that Bosnia and Herzegovina leaders should put polemics aside and focus on the pressing issues that will promote a normal and improved quality of life for the country’s citizens, as well as a progress towards the European Union, by implementing its integration benchmarks. The European Union will support this process wholeheartedly. The reform agenda must continue. However, all concerned should understand that the European Union firmly condemns any challenges to the Dayton Agreement or to the authority of the High Representative.
Thank you Mr. President
* Croatia and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process