I also thank the High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina for his briefing. I align myself with the statement to be delivered by the observer of the European Union. I will concentrate on three points.
First, the Bosnian people clearly demonstrated their discontent in February. As Mr. Inzko has highlighted, the demonstrations expressed the growing mistrust of an elite that has, to date, failed to create functioning State institutions, meet its people’s needs or provide prospects for the future. Regrettably, the protest turned briefly violent, but luckily resulted in property damage only. However, it called into question institutional viability. It showed that Bosnians wish to have their voices heard and will recognized in creating a trustworthy political class with integrity. That is the basic lesson to be drawn from the citizens groups known as plenums that were created following the February demonstrations.
We support a peaceful expression of the emerging political awareness, through strong civic participation in October’s general elections. As we look forward, the electoral campaign must enable those desiring to lead Bosnia to prove that they are able to meet the expectations of all Bosnians, particularly in the socioeconomic sphere. February’s demonstrations have proved that Bosnians — some of whom never knew the country of Yugoslavia — today desire a new future. We must endeavour, together, to provide them with long-term prospects.
The prospect of European integration offers the only viable way forward for Bosnia and Herzegovina, and that prospect should act as a catalyst for the transformation of the country. We reiterate our commitment to seeing Bosnia and Herzegovina join the European Union as a united and sovereign country that enjoys full territorial integrity. That hope is widely shared by the people of Bosnia and Herzegovina, for whom the European Union has never lost its appeal. We want to see that mutual desire translated into reality.
The European Union has a full role to play in the socioeconomic area in particular. In launching the initiative to promote growth and employment, the European Union is involved in two ways in Bosnia and Herzegovina: by intervening directly in response to the economic needs of the population; and by supporting the country’s authorities to take the necessary reform measures to allow the emergence of a sustainable economy. However, it remains true than the leaders of Bosnia and Herzegovina will need to undertake reforms in the future to make their country more functional.
Finally, while the European Union mission, Operation Althea, retains a residual ability to support the authorities of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the European Union must intervene primarily in the area of capacity-building to allow the Bosnian security forces to operate independently. The framework inherited from Dayton remains the framework for action by the international community in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The High Representative, Mr. Inzko, who is the guarantor of the peace accords, has our full support, and we commend his impartial work to support the emergence of a State that is united and responds to all of the aspirations of the people of Bosnia and Herzegovina. We recall that all parties have an obligation to cooperate with him and his services under the very terms of the agreements, in particular to provide him with the required documentation.
We also call on all the constituent parts of Bosnia and Herzegovina to put an end to all nationalist rhetoric and stop any action that divides the country. Our message is clear: there can be no questioning of the territorial integrity of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The future of Bosnia and Herzegovina requires increasingly close cooperation between its constituent entities. Intercommunal reconciliation is crucial to consolidating the sense, by all parties, that they belong and have a shared history and destiny. It is in that spirit of reconciliation that France is involved in the commemoration of the First World War in Bosnia and Herzegovina, to which Mr. Inzko referred earlier.
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