Statement by Acting Permanent Representative Dmitry Polyanskiy at the Un Security Council Meeting on the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The report of the High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina that we discuss today, to our regret, cannot be characterized as an “unbiased” assessment of the situation in the country, though this is how its author – Valentin Inzko tries to present it. Apparently, he does his best in order to justify preservation of elements of international protectorate over Bosnia and Herzegovina and prove relevance of the Office of the High Representative (OHR) at the current stage of Bosnian settlement. This doubtful goal dominates the entire report, and, as before, has a negative impact on its essence.
Above all, V.Inzko continues to settle his personal scores with leaders of Bosnian Serbs and Croats. Without any reason he blames them for every predicament Bosnia and Herzegovina encounters. Our intense dialogue with them, including the meeting of President of Russia Vladimir Putin with Chairman of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina Milorad Dodik to have taken place in Belgrade on January 17, proves the opposite: all Serb and Croat politicians in Bosnia and Herzegovina are committed to the 1995 peace agreement. They are also committed to achieve full implementation of all of its provisions relating to integrity of the decentralized architecture of Bosnia and Herzegovina and equality of the three constituent nations.
Equality is guaranteed by the Dayton Agreement, however, some stakeholders in Sarajevo attack it increasingly often – this is the initial cause of many of Bosnian problems. However, V.Inzko insistently refuses to notice this. He mentions only the most odious instances of undermining the equality, but he does it only in passing and without any criticism. Among such instances – an idea of Bosniaks to contest the name “Republika Srpska” in the court of Bosnia and Herzegovina, though this name is a Dayton term. They also refuse to accommodate the request of Bosnian Croats to supplement the law “On elections” with provisions that would ensure that only legitimate representatives of each of the three constituent nations of Bosnia and Herzegovina be appointed to take highest-level offices.
V.Inzko’s obsession with European and Trans-Atlantic integration of Bosnia and Herzegovina that does not comply with the mandate of the High Representative has become proverbial. It damages performance of his direct responsibilities that have to do with implementation of “Agenda 5+2”. As a result, there has been little progress on this most important track over the recent years. It means resources spent on maintaining the Office of the High Representative in fact are wasted. We expect V.Inzko to pay due attention to the program of drawdown of the OHR – both in reports and, most importantly, in practice.
A separate point is the relations between Bosnia and Herzegovina and NATO. Let me emphasize that even the High Representative has to admit and register significant contradictions between the Bosnian sides regarding further rapprochement of the country with the Alliance. Banja Luka consistently speaks up against it, because it cannot accept that the border of Bosnia and Herzegovina with Serbia, which is militarily neutral should turn into another geopolitical dividing line. This fact just cannot be ignored. Attempts to engage Sarajevo in NATO that violate the Dayton principles of consensus-based foreign policy might undermine the entire work on the reform track and entail other destructive aftereffects.
We cannot fail to notice that V.Inzko’s report contains a range of negative comments regarding measures to complete equipping and staffing of law enforcement bodies of the entities. Such assessments are surprising, for who can know better than the High Representative that all activities that he describes proceed in full compliance with the effective legislation? Besides, they respond to increasing migration risks and terrorist threat that have emerged in recent years. Unfortunately, those aspects were not adequately reflected in the report of the High Representative.
In Republika Srpska independent international commissions were founded that should investigate crimes committed in 1991-1995 against representatives of all ethnicities in the area of Srebrenica and against Serbs in Sarajevo. The reaction of the High Representative is tendentious. He shoots from the hip; because he a priori states that these bodies can allegedly make a “minimal” contribution to administration of justice and inter-ethnical reconciliation. We believe this approach is unacceptable.
We emphasize that these commissions were established because there had been some apparent drawbacks in the activities of the ICTY and its residual mechanism about which we repeatedly expressed our concerns. We hope that experts from 12 countries that constitute the commissions will be able to restore a coherent picture of ethnic hatred crimes and religious crimes that were committed in the area of Srebrenica and in Sarajevo, because many of them never were in focus of ICTY. We suggest waiting until the commissions publish their findings. After that we will be able to make conclusions.
We would like to draw your attention to a number of important procedural aspects. First, we would like to request the High Representative to correctly reflect the work of the Steering Board of the Peace Implementation Council (SB PIC) for Bosnia and Herzegovina in his reports and always accompany quotes from communiques and statements with clear information about countries that were not supportive of them (if any). We state that Russian delegation did not endorse a SB PIC document dated December 5, 2018, on a number of serious reasons. The report includes unreasonably negative assessments of the all-Bosnian elections to have taken place on October 7, 2018; lopsided interpretations of war crimes, and takes mentor’s tone when dwelling on the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina. We are convinced all of this can only undermine the authority of the Steering Board. We expect this international mechanism to remain committed to consensus-based and future-oriented approaches to the Bosnian settlement – in such a case the High Representative will have no need to “camouflage reality”.
Again, we have to say with regret that Members of the Security Council had only several days to study the report of the High Representative before its consideration in the Council. We shall need more time to study it. We invite all colleagues who are interested in a deeper analysis of what is going on in Bosnia and Herzegovina to read an informative and meaningful report prepared by the government of Republika Srpska that covers the time period from November 2018 to April 2019 and fills gaps to be found in the High Representative’s materials.
Russian approach to stabilization in Bosnia and Herzegovina is and will remain based on the following tasks: strict commitment to the peace agreement by all sides, active assistance in promoting inter-Bosnian political dialogue, social and economic development of the country and the entities, support for culture of diversity.
We believe the time of external protectorate over Bosnia and Herzegovina has passed irrevocably. The Office of the High Representative and its “Bonn Powers” has become a burden for further democratic process in the country. We believe it reasonable to take further steps towards cutting the budget and reducing the staffing table of the OHR in accordance with the concept of “local ownership” endorsed by the Steering Board of the PIC over ten years ago.
We proceed from the assumption that the key issue for Bosnia and Herzegovina is to form a new Minister Council at the central level, governments in Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina and four out of ten its cantons, all of these bodies should base on a solid parliamentary majority and should be oriented at steady promotion of reforms. Among them: to improve operation of all-Bosnian judiciary bodies, i.a. withdraw foreign specialists from the Constitutional Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina, to increase efficiency, professionalism and objectiveness of the country’s court and prosecutor’s office. Besides, it is crucial that Bosnians should be the ones to negotiate the essence of any pending change. This is the only way that would ensure viability of prospective solutions and let Bosnia and Herzegovina make significant steps towards implementation of Dayton.
Once again, the continuous external pressure on Republika Srpska and Bosnian-Serb leaders is groundless and counter-productive. It takes, in particular, the form of illegitimate unilateral restrictions. Such actions coupled with negative anti-Serb rhetoric of some of our Western colleagues aggravate political environment in the country, boost internal disputes, impede inter-ethnical trust. We choose to hope that all those who use restrictive toolkit at this stage of Bosnian settlement will soon realize that it is inappropriate.
In conclusion, let me stress that Russia is committed to maintain a mutually beneficial dialogue with Bosnia and Herzegovina that will be based on respect towards sovereignty and territorial integrity of the country, broad authorities of the two entities and equality of the three constituent nations as is enshrined in the peace agreement. We genuinely wish success to Bosnian sides as they build coalition and progressively solve all pending issues.
I thank you for the attention.