Statement delivered by Ambassador Sebastiano Cardi, Permanent Representative of Italy to the United Nations and President of the Security Council, at the Security Council meeting on the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina —
I thank the High Representative Valentin Inzko for his briefing and his work. Italy aligns itself with the statement to be delivered by the European Union.
Today, the Security Council unanimously renewed its support for Operation Althea and its appeal to Bosnia and Herzegovina to speed up the pace of reforms, in line with its European integration perspective.
Italy strongly supports the EU path chosen by Bosnia and Herzegovina and will continue to assist the Country in achieving this goal. Important progress has been made so far, showing the commitment of all the parties to reach this common goal. All authorities and all institutional levels have been working this year on the EU Commission’s Opinion Questionnaire, a first step towards the status of candidate member of the European Union. We encourage them to redouble their efforts in order to ensure a coordinated and harmonized answer to the Questionnaire.
We regret that the pace of socio-economic reforms, rather than accelerating, has being slowing down in the last few months. The demands of all citizens for a better future deserve to be met, and urgently. The leaders of the Country have already shown their ability to deliver when working together in the best interest of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Divisive actions and a rhetoric rooted in the past are not serving this interest. On the contrary, they are stalling a reform process that had an encouraging start. Regaining momentum in the implementation of the Reform Agenda is needed now more than ever to unblock the assistance of the International Monetary Fund and the European Union, which remains crucial to shoring up the process, and to substantially improve the lives of all the people in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
This being the main priority, we call on all parties to discuss seriously and in a spirit of dialogue and consensus the measures needed to improve the electoral framework pursuant to the ruling issued by the Constitutional Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina in December 2016. It is paramount that next year’s elections be conducted smoothly and allow the formation of renewed democratic bodies able to resume effectively and immediately the reform process and to steadily move towards the EU.
Many challenges still lie ahead – strengthening the rule of law and justice, the fight against corruption and the prevention of radicalization being some of the most significant – , but through political will and unity of intent they can be addressed successfully. Citizens’ trust in the institutions must be restored by offering, especially to young people, real opportunities to build a future in their home country.
We commend recent progress in consolidating regional relations and welcome Bosnia and Herzegovina’s decision to sign the Transport Community Treaty, an important step toward regional integration achieved by the Summit on Western Balkans that Italy hosted last July in Trieste. All Western Balkans countries should continue working in this direction which we deem essential as they move closer to the European Union.
I conclude by recalling that our support for Bosnia and Herzegovina is grounded on the respect for its sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity enshrined in the Dayton Peace Agreements. We urge the Country to take forward the 5+2 Agenda established by the Peace Implementation Council for the closure of the Office of the High Representative. We reiterate our full support for EUFOR Althea and look forward to its strategic review. We stand ready to discuss, in the appropriate forum, a possible reconfiguration of the international presence in Bosnia and Herzegovina as its stability continues to consolidate and the Country moves forward in its EU integration process.