Statement by Deputy Permanent Representative Anna Evstigneeva at UNSC briefing on the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina
We note with concern that the internal political crisis in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) is deepening. There is an unprecedented exacerbation of ethnic contradictions in the entire post-conflict period, and a degradation of intercommunal dialogue. This is a direct consequence of the gross interference of Western countries in internal Bosnian affairs in order to reshape this multinational state according to their own patterns. Such a neo-colonial approach threatens the implementation of the 1995 General Framework Agreement for Peace, undermines the constitutional foundations of the BiH statehood, violates the fundamental rights of the constituent peoples, and provokes a new round of tension in the country and in the Balkans as a whole. It is not the Republika Srpska that is the source of problems (as the West strives to convince everyone with perseverance that deserves better use), but the deliberate demonization of everything that does not fit into the Euro-Atlantic framework that is being imposed on the peoples of BiH.
The results of the general elections that took place on 2 October indicate that ethnic-oriented and Dayton-based concept of statehood clearly takes precedence over the pseudo-civilian formula that is being forcefully imposed on BiH from the outside. There is no doubt that the overwhelming majority of voters opted for Dayton, its fundamental postulates about the central role of constituent peoples. We note with regret that not all of our colleagues are satisfied with the sovereign and democratic choice of the population of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
While being guided solely by selfish geopolitical interests, Western states try to impose their will on the peoples of Bosnia and Herzegovina, whereby they usurp the powers of legally elected authorities of a sovereign state and try to substitute legal institutions. To facilitate those goals, they use numerous special envoys and their henchman – the illegitimate and self-proclaimed High Representative. They clearly seek to remove from power the legitimate national leaders who are not welcome with the West. They again impose unilateral sanctions on far-fetched pretexts and use all sorts of pressure and blackmail.
We warn against the extremely dangerous consequences of such a short-sighted policy, call to end further experiments on the independent Bosnian state and its peoples, and give them the opportunity to develop independently, in full accordance with the norms and principles of international law. We underscore that this falls in the interests of the constituent peoples and all population of BiH.
We have repeatedly drawn attention to the fact that the increased activity of the Office of the High Representative (OHR) is not only detached from reality, but it also poses additional threats to the peace and stability in the country, which is something directly opposite to the tasks once assigned to it. Gross interference in the law making and law enforcement practice, seems to alleviate the problem, but only at a first glance. In reality, it makes this problem deeper rooted, causes further complications, and brings to naught chances to arrive at a compromise. We note that this undermining of the Bosnian sovereignty has started to be discussed only recently – in the wake of the changes in the electoral legislation of Bosnia and Herzegovina and related developments that turned out unpopular in the West. This is double standards as they are. It is time to shut down the OHR, this body of colonial administration, so that the peoples of BiH could finally breathe freely and take responsibility for the future of their state.
The very process of multilateral efforts for post-conflict settlement in BiH is moving away from the Dayton framework. Suffice it to recall the farce with the meeting of the Steering Board of the Peace Implementation Council that was held in Sarajevo in June this year, when Russia, one of full-fledged members of SB PIC, was not even informed about this meeting. Statements on behalf of the Steering Board that make no reference to the opinion of Russia have started to be issued frequently. It is unlikely that such an approach can strengthen the authority of this consultative body and contribute to finding acceptable solutions. We urge colleagues to return to the practice of respectful dialogue and consensus.
As for the so-called report by the so-called High Representative, we are not going to comment on that. We believe it is unacceptable that arbitrary speculations of a private individual are circulated as Security Council official documents. We invite members of the Council to read the truly noteworthy report of the Republika Srpska, which is replete with useful factual material on the real state of affairs in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
We voted in favor of the renewal of the mandate of EU Operation Althea for another year. It is gratifying that a responsible and constructive approach prevailed and the document turned out to be depoliticized and purely technical. At the same time, we reiterate our concern about the unjustified and unaccounted for two-fold increase of the EUFOR contingent in 2022, especially since the command of the Operation directly emphasizes the absence of immediate threats to peace and stability in BiH. What is the reason for such outward measures that raise concern among the citizens of the country. We warn against attempts to involve EUFOR in internal political processes.
We call on the Security Council to assess the current events in BiH in a constructive manner and exclusively from the perspective of the Dayton Peace Agreement which was endorsed by a UNSC resolution. As a state that attested the Dayton Agreement, Russia fully supports the fundamental principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity of Bosnia and Herzegovina, equality of the three constituent peoples and two entities with broad constitutional authorities. What’s key to solving internal Bosnian problems is an inclusive interethnic dialogue without external interference and only on the basis of the Dayton postulates.