I should like to thank Mr. Valentin Inzko, High Representative of Bosnia and Herzegovina, forhis briefing. France certainly fully echoes his statement on the unity of the international community. I would like to associate myself with the statement to be made by Mr. Mayr-Harting on behalf of the European Union.
A 15-month period during which an outgoing Government was only able to deal with daily business has come to an end in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The situation on the ground has remained calm and stable in spite of the nationalist rhetoric intended to challenge the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Unfortunately, the process of reforming and strengthening the country’s institutions lost momentum long ago.
As Mr. Inzko highlighted, however, the establishment of a Government led by Prime Minister Bevanda, the vote on the State Aid Law and the Census Law and the agreement reached on 9 March on principles to be used to resolve the issues of ownership and use of defence and State property are steps that have served to place the country back on track towards Euro-Atlantic integration. Progress has also been made towards establishing a budget for 2012 and a fiscal framework for the period 2012-2014. Mr. Bevanda’s statement during his swearing in speech that his country’s European perspective and, in particular, the entry into force of a stabilization and association agreement would be his Government’s priorities deserves our encouragement. We call on Bosnian authorities to pursue their efforts to bring their Constitution into line with the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms. We also encourage them to prepare for the local elections of 7 October as well as possible and to find lasting compromises for particular local situations, such as specifically that in Srebrenica.
I also welcome, as High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina Inzko has done as well, the efforts deployed since September by Mr. Peter Sørensen, European Union Special Representative and Head of its Delegation to Bosnia and Herzegovina, who has contributed to that country’s progress towards a European future. The European Union’s commitment is bearing fruit and must continue.
As in any other place where the Council is engaged, it is important that the United Nations adapt is presence to developments in the political and security situation. For its part, the European Union has understood that in adjusting its civilian and military presence. The Office of the Special Representative will be further strengthened this summer, in particular with regard to the rule of law. Contingents to the European Union Force and Operation Althea will be further reduced, with refocus on training and advice for Bosnian armed forces while of course retaining the capacity to take on tasks in support of Bosnian authorities, should that become necessary.
Taking into account that the security situation has been calm for several years now and that there has been progress on political dialogue and reforms, including moving towards the five objectives and two conditions established by the Peace Implementation Council (PIC) in 2008, there is justification for enhanced commitment by the European Union, and it calls for the continued reconfiguration of the international presence in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The High Representative is the guarantor of peace agreements on behalf of the international community. His efforts and his dialogue with Bosnian political representatives have our full support. His mission and the resources available to him obviously have to develop in accordance with the situation. We trust that a first step in that direction will be taken when the PIC Steering Board meets in Sarajevo next week. A first step would be to decide on the end to international supervision on the Brcko district.
Five months after the European Union Council of Foreign Ministers adopted clear conclusions on reducing the size of Office of the High Representative in Bosnia and Herzegovina, on 5 December 201l, it is time to move on to action. We should recalibrate the work of the Office with a view to creating complementarity vis-à-vis the work of the European Union.
In conclusion, I would like to reassert our commitment to the independence, unity and territorial integrity of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Like other countries in the Balkans, that country has cast its sight towards the European Union and its values. As a Security Council member, it recently demonstrated that it is also a responsible member of the international community and of the United Nations. It has become an important factor in regional stability, as was shown by its hosting in April of the International Donors Conference on Durable Solutions for Refugees and Internally Displaced Persons. At a time when we have just commemorated, among other events, the sad anniversary of the beginning of the siege of Sarajevo, we can only be grateful for the road travelled since those terrible days.