Remarks at a UN Security Council Debate on Bosnia and Herzegovina

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Ambassador David Pressman
Alternate Representative to the UN for Special Political Affairs
U.S. Mission to the United Nations
New York City
November 10, 2015

Thank you, Mr. President, and thank you, High Representative Inzko, for your leadership of the Office of the High Representative and your crucial efforts on behalf of the international community in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

High Representative Inzko, we again reiterate our strong support for your mandate under Dayton as the final authority regarding the interpretation of the civilian implementation of the Peace Agreement. The United States joins members of this Council and the EU Foreign Affairs Council in our continued support for the EUFOR mandate, and would also like to commend the continuing work of NATO through NATO Headquarters Sarajevo.

The United States fully backs the EUFOR ALTHEA mission, and we are pleased that today the Security Council has adopted a resolution that renews all authorities – each and every one – and carries forward all prior Council actions on EUFOR, the Office of the High Representative, and NATO. We know that many in Bosnia and Herzegovina depend on the Dayton institutions and the Peace Agreement to ensure that their rights are protected. The presence of EUFOR, as well as of the Office of the High Representative and NATO, provide reassurances that this trust is well founded and has the backing of the international community.

We look forward to the day when Bosnia and Herzegovina meets the objectives and conditions established by the Peace Implementation Council for the closure of the Office of the High Representative, but that day has not arrived. Again, that day has not come, and the Security Council has reaffirmed that today. We encourage Bosnia and Herzegovina’s leaders, and all members of the international community, to support the actions and reforms necessary to reach that milestone.

As the High Representative has noted, the adoption of the reform agenda in Bosnia and Herzegovina is a good step toward that future, and it must not be allowed to falter. The United States strongly supports the EU’s initiative to advance quickly these important economic and social reforms, and we also continue to support Euro-Atlantic integration, as it is a cornerstone for security and stability in a previously troubled region.

This year, we marked 20 years since some 8,000 people were slaughtered in the mountains of eastern Bosnia and Herzegovina. Those who perpetrated that genocide must be held accountable. And we continue to be disturbed by statements made by some political leaders and groups that deny a genocide ever took place.

But let’s be very clear, the escalating and divisive rhetoric coming out of Republika Srpska is very troubling, and in particular from Republika Srpska President Dodik, and it threatens both Dayton and the stability of Bosnia and Herzegovina. In recent months, words and rhetoric have regrettably turned into action, with the passage in the Republika Srpska National Assembly of a referendum law directly challenging the Office of the High Representative and state level institutions.

As the High Representative warned the Security Council in his September letter and again in his briefing to us just this morning, this proposed referendum may represent the most serious challenge to the Peace Agreement in the last 20 years; it threatens to disrupt the achievements of the international community and the people of Bosnia and Herzegovina since the end of the war. This referendum is dangerous, it is anti-Dayton, and it must not go forward. We hope constructive dialogue, including through the Structured Dialogue on Justice, will prevail, but no one should harbor any doubt as to the United States’ commitment and dedication to both Dayton and Bosnia and Herzegovina – a Bosnia and Herzegovina that is whole and at peace.

Bosnia and Herzegovina is at a critical juncture. Twenty years after the signing of the Dayton Agreement, Bosnia and Herzegovina has transitioned from war to peace. But we all know that peace is fragile, and peace must constantly be nurtured by all who participate in the democratic sphere.

Mr. President, two paths lay before the country – one of stagnation and division, and one of prosperity and greater integration with Europe. The international community must support Bosnia and Herzegovina as it pursues the reforms necessary for a successful and stable future.

Thank you very much.

Source; U.S Department of State

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