(translated from French)
I wish at the outset to welcome the new High Representative and to thank him for his statement this morning. We fully agree with his analysis of the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina. I wish also to welcome Mr. Nikola Špirić, Chairman of the Council of Ministers of Bosnia and Herzegovina. We take careful note of his reaffirmed intention to carry out the necessary reforms, and we encourage him to continue and step up his endeavours to that end.
The representative of the Czech Republic will soon make a statement on behalf of the European Union, and France naturally associates itself with that statement. I should like, however, to make some supplementary remarks in my national capacity.
Over the past 14 years, Bosnia and Herzegovina, with the support of the European Union, has carried out reforms that are essential for its stability and prosperity. In June 2008 it reached an important milestone by signing a Stabilization and Association Agreement with the European Union, which reasserted its commitment to joining the Union. Some encouraging progress has been achieved in recent months, notably the adoption of the constitutional amendment on Brcko District and the adoption of the War Crimes Strategy and the implementation action plan for justice sector reform. This progress was made possible by the spirit of compromise and dialogue that was initiated last November at Prud. From the outset, the European Union and France have supported the Prud process, which should continue and indeed be extended. We urge all Bosnian political actors to become part of the process and to participate fully.
At the same time, the High Representative has drawn our attention to some worrying developments. The increase in nationalist rhetoric, and actions and statements challenging the underlying structure of the State — whether directed against the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Bosnia and Herzegovina or against the existence of the Republika Srpska — are matters of grave concern. The political situation continues to be marked by a continuing lack of trust among the leaders of the three constituent peoples, which gives rise to tension and hampers progress in the country. We therefore call on the Bosnia and Herzegovina leadership to cease opposition to change and to work towards compromise on the main issues. Only a constructive attitude on the part of all Bosnian political actors will make it possible to move forward on reforms that will open the way for an evolving international presence, along with reforms that arise from European partnership.
I wish to assure the High Representative of our confidence in him and of our full support as he works to ensure respect for the Dayton-Paris accords, to promote the reforms that the country needs and to complete the transition from the Office of the High Representative to a European Union special representative with a strengthened mandate.
It is time to open a new chapter in the country’s history, which requires that the objectives and conditions established by the Peace Implementation Council for the transition be fully met. Important progress remains to be accomplished to achieve that crucial stage. Notwithstanding the measures that still have to be taken, I would especially like to emphasize the urgency of overcoming the delay in the inventory and apportionment of State property. That is an essential point upon which we await progress over the coming weeks.
France supports the aspiration of the Bosnian people to rejoin the European Union. The future of Bosnia and Herzegovina and that of all the countries of the Western Balkans lies in Europe; that is the key to the stability of the region, to anchoring democracy in the region and bringing about its future prosperity, as the President of the French Republic, Nicolas Sarkozy, has stressed on several occasions in recent months. The High Representative referred to the joint meeting of the Czech, Swedish and French Foreign Ministers in April and to the visit of Javier Solana a few days ago, confirming the constancy of European Union commitment towards Bosnia and Herzegovina and its confidence with regard to its European future. Europe remains committed through the EUFOR-Altea operation and the European Union’s police mission.
The course set is clear, but the tempo of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s rapprochement with Europe depends on the country itself. The international community can help the Bosnian leaders to achieve that, and that is something towards which the High Representative is working energetically, but it cannot substitute for the efforts of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Bernard Kouchner has emphasized that there is no magic wand. It is for the Bosnians and their leaders, first and foremost, to be the actors in the reforms the country needs. That is work for a united Bosnia and Herzegovina that can be thoroughly integrated into the European Union.