Permanent Mission of the Russian Federation to the United Nations

Permanent Mission of the Russian Federation to the United Nations

Statement by Permanent Representative Vassily Nebenzia at UNSC briefing on Bosnia and Herzegovina


We thank representative of the Secretariat Mr.Herve Lecoq for his briefing.

We welcome the participation in this meeting of Minister of Foreign Affairs of Bosnia and Herzegovina Ms.Bisera Turkovic.

We have initiated this meeting in order to discuss a letter circulated in the Security Council, which says that on 27 May 2021 Mr. Christian Schmidt of the Federal Republic of Germany was appointed as the new High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina. The Russian Federation as a member state of the Steering Board of the Peace Implementation Council for BiH strongly disagrees with this appointment.

It is well-known that the procedure of appointment of High Representative that has emerged over all these years is rather logical, transparent and democratic. Given consent of BiH sides, the Steering Board approves a candidature, which then needs to be approved by the UN Security Council, normally by means of adopting a corresponding resolution.

Nothing of the kind happened in C.Schmidt’s case. We see an absolutely different picture. The only candidate appeared out of thin air, and his name was approved by the Steering Board right away, without much discussion. The Steering Board preferred to ignore the opinion not only of the Russian Federation, but of all BiH sides. It begs a logical question. Can the work aimed at the track of national reconciliation commence with provoking an inevitable conflict that would threaten to exacerbate the disputes between the entities?

Some our UNSC colleagues poured fuel on the fire when they decided to «play down» this issue in the Council. At the end of the day, the letter of High Representative Inzko of 3 June 2021 addressed to the UN Secretary-General and the President of the Security Council, which informed that Christian Schmidt would take over the HR office on 1 August 2021, was not circulated among the Council members for some reason. It was only circulated in the SC once the Russian delegation raised this issue and insisted on having it circulated. But for three weeks before that moment it had seemed that this letter did not exist, even though everyone knew about it. Such steps exacerbated the overall unpleasant impression from this situation.

Russia seeks to support the General Framework Agreement for Peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina or the Dayton Peace Agreement, because this issue cannot be addressed without account for historical retrospective. Everyone is aware that in early 1990s Bosnia and Herzegovina was shaken by a deadly war that impacted the entire society. Many people lost their loved ones, their homes and their jobs. The Dayton Agreement, which was signed in 1995 by sides to the conflict and guarantor states, put an end to that terrible tragedy. Until this day, it remains a pillar maintaining peace on the Bosnian soil. As members of the Security Council, we share a duty to do our best to safeguard this fragile achievement, save it from being ruined. That is why we came forward with an initiative to convene this meeting.

Our position with regard to the High Representative for BiH, whose office was established pursuant to procedures stipulated in Annex 10 to the Dayton Agreements is well-known. We must be mindful that only the peoples of Bosnia and Herzegovina are the holders of its sovereignty. It is them who define the future of the country and its paths of development. In no way should it be done by the High Representative or some external factor.

Mr. President,

We are always ready for a frank conversation with our UNSC colleagues on the most pressing issues on our agenda. As a matter of fact, frank exchange of opinions and search for compromise are among the tasks of the Security Council. It is the only way how we can solve problems. But everything is different in this particular case. We see attempts to evade discussing the HR candidature and reviewing the activity of the Office of the High Representative in general. Why playing fast and loose and playing hide-n-seek in an open field? Isn’t it obvious that a candidate who has not been approved by the Security Council and the Bosnian sides will not have any legitimacy and solid political support so as to be able to truly facilitate peaceful settlement? On the contrary, all their actions will push the country into the abyss of chaos, uncover the existing contradictions and ultimately reduce to a zero all the good that has been done over the recent quarter of a century.

Is it what we wanted to achieve when signing the Dayton Agreement? Thank you.


Right of reply in response to Minister of Foreign Affairs of Bosnia and Herzegovina Bisera Turkovic:

We would like to ask a question to Minister Turkovic. Please, do not take it personally, but this issue definitely needs to be clarified. Does your today’s statement represent the viewpoint of all constituent entities of Bosnia and Herzegovina? Has the position that you presented been agreed upon by the BiH Presidency? In what way was it done?

I ask these questions because we received a letter from Chairman of BiH Presidency Mr. Milorad Dodik, where he writes that you have no legal ground to make a statement at the Security Council today, because it has not been agreed with all Bosnian sides. As we understand, the Dayton provisions imply that all BiH entities are equally responsible for foreign policy issues. That is why such program statements and assessments by all means need to be duly endorsed.

If this was not the case, a conclusion begs itself that what you said today was your personal position. Of course, you have every right to have one. But in such case, this is not the position of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

We are convinced that at this point it is critically important to uphold respect for interests of the two entities and three constituent peoples of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and stick to a weighed position. Otherwise it may antagonize the sides rather than facilitate settlement.

Mr. President,

Today we heard many statements asserting that all legal conditions for appointing a High Representative had been observed, that the Security Council had no role to play in this matter, and that the issue had been closed. Interestingly, when appointing the two previous High Representatives for BiH, consensus in the Steering Board was imperative, and the role of the Security Council was not subjected to any doubts. You keep playing the games with us that we said were unacceptable. You do not listen to opinions of either members of the Steering Board or the constituent peoples that they made absolutely clear. In spite of this, you are pushing through your decision. Let me assure you that it will hardly add to the reputation of the allegedly appointed High Representative Schmidt. 

Right of reply in response to Minister of Foreign Affairs of Bosnia and Herzegovina Bisera Turkovic:

I am entitled to speak on behalf of the Russian Federation. President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin authorized me to do so. I presented my credentials to the Secretary-General in due time. That is why you can rest assured that everything I say from this seat is official statements of the Russian Federation.

You do not hold a letter signed by Minister Lavrov regarding my eligibility to speak here. However we hold a letter signed by the Chairman of BiH Presidency. This letter exists, it says that you have no right to speak on behalf of your country on this issue and present your position as the one reflecting the interests of all entities and constituent peoples of Bosnia and Herzegovina. 

Right of reply in response to Minister of Foreign Affairs of Bosnia and Herzegovina Bisera Turkovic:

I am not eager to continue this exchange. I just would like to point out the following. We are in an open meeting. All interested stakeholders can watch it. That is why I believe that neither myself, nor us here need to inquire into the scope of Minister Turkovic’s authorities and into how she was supposed to represent Bosnia and Herzegovina and what statements she was supposed to make. I think this is a question that should be answered by Bosnia and Herzegovina itself. They must have watched this meeting, so let’s leave it to them to decide whether Minister Turkovic could produce such statement or not.

Thank you.