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Thursday, November 13, 2014

AMBASSADOR PRESSMAN'S SPEECH ON CHAPTER VII MANDATE RENEWAL SUPPORTING PEOPLE OF BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA

FROM:  U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT 
Ambassador David Pressman
Alternate Representative to the UN for Special Political Affairs 
New York, NY
November 11, 2014
AS DELIVERED

Thank you, Madame President, and thank you High Representative Inzko for your briefing today. The United States continues to support your mandate under the General Framework Agreement for Peace. We commend your work, and offer you our strong support for your role as a member of the Peace Implementation Council.

Madame President, before commenting on High Representative Inzko’s briefing, I would like to say a few words about the resolution that was just adopted by the Council.

This Chapter VII mandate renewal reaffirms the Council’s willingness to support the people of Bosnia and Herzegovina in their efforts to sustain a safe and secure environment with the assistance of the EUFOR mission and NATO Headquarters Sarajevo, and to implement the civilian aspects of the General Framework Agreement for Peace with the help of the Office of the High Representative.

Bosnia and Herzegovina has expressed, without reservation, its strong support for this mandate renewal and for all of the language therein. The United States joins Bosnia and Herzegovina and the members of this Council and the EU Foreign Affairs Council in our continued support for the EUFOR mandate. And we are disappointed that one delegation did not join consensus in responding to Bosnia and Herzegovina’s own request for continued Security Council support.

Madame President, this has been a highly eventful and important year for Bosnia and Herzegovina. In February, thousands of protesters in cities across the country joined together to express dissatisfaction with economic and political stagnation. Although the protests briefly – and regrettably – turned violent, and although some political actors attempted to use the protests to discourage public discourse and stoke ethnic tensions, the plenums that resulted from these protests provided a positive and peaceful venue for active political engagement.

Shortly after our May debate in this Council, Bosnia and Herzegovina experienced severe flooding that resulted in dozens of deaths and displaced thousands from their homes. The flooding also contributed to economic concerns, causing billions of dollars in damage. As the people of Bosnia and Herzegovina work toward recovery, they are undoubtedly more aware than ever of the need for properly functioning democratic institutions and for political leaders that will work together at all levels to make social and economic progress.

In this regard, the United States commends Bosnia and Herzegovina on holding general elections this October. The elections were orderly and conducted in a competitive environment, although we also cannot ignore that there were several irregularities, as noted by the OSCE observation mission.

As finalized results are expected today, it is our hope that governments will form as quickly as possible and that the elected representatives of the people will look for ways to move the country forward positively and to compromise, where needed.

Further, we call on the political parties and institutions to meet their obligations to implement the ruling of the BiH Constitutional Court on the electoral system for Mostar.

Madame President, we support Bosnia and Herzegovina’s long-expressed goal of Euro-Atlantic integration and continue to believe that the integration process is the surest and most expeditious path to the country’s long-term stability and prosperity. We note Bosnia and Herzegovina recently reiterated this goal during the recent General Debate, in which Serb Member of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina Radmanovic stated unequivocally that his country’s ultimate goal was, “full, legal integration into the European Union.”

Euro-Atlantic integration will not happen without continued efforts by a variety of stakeholders. We welcome the reform initiative proposed by the British and German Foreign Ministers last week to get the country back on track for EU membership, and we will work with our European partners to support the adoption and implementation of this reform agenda. We also will work with Bosnia and Herzegovina’s newly elected leaders to press for the resolution of the listing of defense properties in order to activate its NATO Membership Action Plan. We hope the new government seriously engages on the reform agenda to build a more effective, democratic and prosperous state, and to progress towards the country’s goals of EU and NATO integration.

As the High Representative noted in his report, authorities have again failed to make any concrete progress on the outstanding 5+2 objectives and the conditions for the closure of the Office of the High Representative. We also share his concern over the Republika Srpska’s lack of compliance with its obligation to provide the High Representative with timely access to officials, institutions and documents, and we urge the relevant authorities to comply.

The United States strongly supports the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Bosnia and Herzegovina as guaranteed by the Dayton Peace Accords. We note that some political leaders persist in their attempts to use divisive rhetoric to distract the public from economic and political stagnation.

The recent elections proved that an increasing majority of citizens are tired of these distractions and seek true leadership from their officials. We condemn divisive rhetoric, and during the coalition formation period, we urge parties to seek partners that are prepared to work toward a future for all of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Finally, I want to again reiterate the support of the United States for the renewal of the EUFOR mandate under the Chapter VII of the UN Charter. The United States commends the work of NATO Headquarters Sarajevo and EUFOR mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina and we believe EUFOR and NATO Headquarters Sarajevo – successors to SFOR – are essential in sustaining a safe and secure environment in Bosnia and Herzegovina, providing vital capacity-building to the government, and offering reassurance across ethnic lines that the international community is committed to the country’s stability.

We remain hopeful for the future of Bosnia and Herzegovina and we will continue to work with the international community and with the country’s institutions to encourage progress in each of these areas and to improve the lives of its citizens.

Thank you, Madame President.