Statement by Mr.Vladimir Safronkov, Deputy Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to the United Nations, at the Security Council on the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina
We would like to share our thoughts with you, Mr. President, on the report of the High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina (see S/2017/922, annex). In our opinion, of all the reports Mr. Inzko has submitted to the Security Council since 2009, this is the most biased. To a lesser extent, the document refers to the implementation of the General Framework Agreement, but essentially it forms part of the tendentious and biased attacks on the Republika Srpska that a number of delegations in this Chamber have unfortunately already seized on.
There is only one thing to be gleaned from the report, which is that the Bosnian Serbs alone are to blame for all of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s problems. It is clear to anyone even slightly familiar with the situation in Bosnia that the picture painted by the High Representative is a long way from the truth and very misleading, and testifies to the fact that its author has lost touch with reality.
We are deeply disturbed to see that Mr. Inzko has entered the realm of blatant Serbophobia and that his daily activity has been reduced to improving his relations with Banja Luka and lobbying for EuroAtlantic integration for Bosnia and Herzegovina, in contravention both of his mandate and internal political realities in the host country. I will say straight out that we should not be engaging in hostilities but carrying out our duties conscientiously.
That approach requires fostering national reconciliation processes, mutually respectful internal political dialogue, compromise and consensus and, of course, respectful consideration of the views of all the parties. Mr. Inzko should bear in mind that in Bosnia and Herzegovina he represents the entire international community, not the individual members of his own choosing. He has to conduct agreed-on policy, not carry out somebody’s individual instructions or be guided by personal hostility.
However, let us get to grips with the reality of the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina, whose main feature is a deep internal political crisis at both the Bosnian level and in the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, founded on the absence of any equal or mutually respectful dialogue among the three constituent peoples.
Strangely enough, the High Representative failed to underscore that in his report. It is exactly that absence of genuine inter-ethnic interaction that is creating problems in the functioning of Government bodies, hindering the process of implementing essential socioeconomic reforms — including, incidentally, the European agenda — and compelling local ethnic communities to undertake additional efforts to establish and protect the equality and broad autonomy guaranteed by the Dayton Agreement.
The Peace Agreement signed in Paris in 1995 contains a fully functioning set of rules and conditions for the functioning of Bosnia and Herzegovina that has no need of outside interference. Every decision should be the result of internal political dialogue and consensus. That applies to one of the current priority issues, the reform of the electoral laws, which should be based on respect for one of the key Dayton provisions, equality for all peoples.
That same principle should also be observed in the Bosnia and Herzegovina justice system, about whose fairness, independence, impartiality and effectiveness many serious questions have been raised, one revealing example being the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s recent decision in the case of the Bosniak commander Naser Orić during the Yugoslavian conflict. It is surprising that in his report Mr. Inzko decided not to dwell on issues that are matters of such urgency for the citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina, who are clearly losing faith in justice. He completely fails to mention the systemic problems in the special services at the Bosnian level, which are giving two of the constituent peoples reason for concerns about their independence from political pressure, their impartiality and their due national representativeness.
We do not agree with Mr. Inzko’s theme of blaming the Bosnian Serb leadership for undermining Dayton. In its alternative report to the Security Council, the Republika Srpska clearly and unequivocally articulated its commitment to Dayton and the integrity of Bosnia and Herzegovina, presenting a well-reasoned position on the country’s key issues that differs from that of the High Representative. We recommend that Council members not dismiss this document but rather read it carefully, especially since it was circulated in New York in advance of the meeting, in contrast to the report of the High Representative.
This issue also applies to the High Representative’s reaction to the Republika Srpska National Assembly’s adoption on 17 October of a resolution on military neutrality, which far exceeded the comments from NATO headquarters in Sarajevo. We do not see why the highest representative body of that entity cannot democratically inform the Bosnian federal authorities of its position on a very painful issue for Bosnian Serbs that is also one of the most hotly debated questions in Bosnia and Herzegovina — its rapprochement with NATO. It should not be ignored.
In the light of all of this, one thing is clear. The external protection mechanism, in the person of the High Representative, has outlived its usefulness. It is not playing a positive role in the settlement process but is rather introducing unnecessary tension and engaging in matters unrelated to his mandate under the pretext of advancing Euro-Atlantic integration.
We propose considering the practical aspects of shutting down the Office of the High Representative, including taking into account the 5+2 programme. That proposal was approved in 2008, but the Office continues to function. Major steps to reduce its budget and staff are clearly required.
We should be focusing on the future agenda for Bosnia and Herzegovina rather than on protectorate forms of influence. That focus should be on an unconditional transfer of all responsibility, without any exceptions, to the local authorities. That should include the judiciary, where there are still three foreign judges presiding over the Constitutional Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina, which calls the sovereignty of the country into question; promoting an equitable and mutually respectful internal political dialogue, as the only possible path to genuine national reconciliation; ensuring that international presences refrain from interfering in local affairs, as happened in the recent decision of the High Judicial and Prosecutorial Council on vetting judicial officials; and rejecting unilateral sanctions as a tool for putting pressure on objectionable individuals, which only increases tension. Those are the things that the Security Council should be discussing.
Russia has traditionally maintained friendly relations with all the peoples of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Balkans generally. The region should be a platform for collaboration and constructive cooperation on goals that unite us all, such as strengthening peace, security and stability in the country and region, and which are becoming increasingly urgent, especially in the light of the terrorist threat in Europe.
In conclusion, we would once again like to express our gratitude to the authorities, political stakeholders and civic organizations of the Republika Srpska for their unveiling of a memorial to Vitaly Ivanovich Churkin, who, first as Special Representative of the Russian President and then as Permanent Representative of Russia to the United Nations, made a tremendous contribution to the stabilization of the situation in the region.