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Security Council – Briefing on Bosnia – Herzegovina

Statement by Ambassador Sebastiano Cardi, Permanent Representative of Italy to the United Nations, at the Security Council briefing concerning the situation in Bosnia – Herzegovina —

Mr. President,

I thank the High Representative Valentin Inzko for his briefing and reiterate our support to his work. Italy aligns itself with the statement to be delivered shortly by the European Union.

Mr. President,

At the outset, allow me to emphasize that the future of Bosnia and Herzegovina is in the European Union. The Country has made significant steps forward in the last year, proving to be able to find unity of intent and capacity to embark in difficult but necessary structural reforms. The “Reform Agenda”, developed with the assistance of the European Union and the International Financial Institutions, has outlined the key areas of action to trigger development and consolidate the stability of the Country. Nevertheless, the recent failure to adopt key legislative reforms required by the IMF risks to jeopardize the results achieved: we call on all institutions and political forces to stay committed to the reform process and maintain momentum towards the fulfilment of political and economic goals. Such reforms are needed first and foremost by the people: the political leadership will be held accountable on the basis of the results it will deliver to its citizens.

I underscore that the Reform Agenda has paved the way for the Country to present a formal request of accession to the European Union. We look forward to the finalization of the Questionnaire of the European Commission and encourage the authorities to keep this goal on focus and achieve it through the efficient coordination of all institutional levels.

Mr. President,

It is, indeed, a crucial time for Bosnia and Herzegovina. For this reason, we urge all institutions and political forces to refrain from raising issues that could divert attention from the Reform Agenda and the European track.
Recent political tensions must be put aside. Any dispute should be dealt through frank and inclusive dialogue by abiding fully to the Constitution of Bosnia and Herzegovina and in full respect and cooperation with the institutions established therein, starting with the Constitutional Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

We expect that discussions on the election law will be addressed as much as possible in a consensual way, without endangering the current institutional architecture and with the aim to set a legal functional framework for the next elections, to be held in autumn 2018. At the same time, it is important to consider how the need for institutional reforms represent an important step that Bosnia and Herzegovina will be called to fully accomplish in the future within the perspective of its European integration path.

Ethnic divisions are still entrenched in Bosnian society. We call on all the authorities to tackle them and to focus on the very needs of Bosnian people. The citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina, especially the youngest, don’t need divisive rhetoric: they deserve concrete opportunities to build their future in their own Country; they want to be recognized the same rights and freedoms of all European citizens.
From our side, we will continue to provide support along with the European Union.

Secondly, the regional dimension is of utmost importance. Integration and cooperation among Western Balkan Countries is key to their stabilization and development and conducive to their European path: it will strengthen mutual confidence, improve connectivity and freedom of movement, develop the private sector and encourage youth mobility. This is true especially for Bosnia and Herzegovina.

As Chair of the Western Balkans Process in 2017, Italy is engaged in a fruitful dialogue with all Western Balkan Countries to identify with them their priorities to boost regional integration. Bosnia and Herzegovina is actively contributing, as it has already proved by hosting a regional summit last March in preparation of the Annual Western Balkans Summit that Italy will host in Trieste on July 12. We are committed to making this entire process meaningful and beneficial to these Countries. In a few days, on May 24, we will host in Rome another preparatory ministerial meeting.

Mr. President,

In conclusion, our support to Bosnia and Herzegovina is driven by the respect of its sovereignty and territorial integrity enshrined in the Dayton Peace Agreements, our full support to the EU mission EUFOR Althea authorized by this Council and our staunch commitment to accompany the path Bosnia has chosen towards the European Union.

In this respect, we urge the Country to redouble the efforts to take forward the 5+2 Agenda established by the Peace Implementation Council for the closure of the Office of the High Representative and to steadily advance in approaching the EU. This Autumn EUFOR Althea will undergo a strategic review to take into account the progress made so far and the evolving relation with Brussels. As the country’s stability continues to strengthen and further progress is achieved in reforms and on the EU path, we look forward to continuing, in the appropriate forum, the discussion with the international community on the possible reconfiguration of the international presence.

Thank you.