Statement by Deputy Permanent Representative Anna Evstigneeva at an open VTC of UNSC members on Bosnia and Herzegovina
May I congratulate you on the start of your Presidency in the Security Council in the month of May and wish to you every success in this capacity. Let me also thank the delegation of Viet Nam for able guidance of the Council in April.
I would like to express our regret over the format chosen for this meeting. We believe that amidst the improving health safety environment, and the growing number of vaccines administered in New York, VTC meetings of the Council seem somewhat out-of-date. We believe the Council needs to brace up and get back to the Headquarters (given observance of social distancing and other relevant recommendations). The UNSC chamber is fully equipped to ensure this. In-person meetings that almost daily convene in the GA Hall prove that our proposal is more than realistic.
We call on the Chinese Presidency to take the lead and boost the UNSC return to its normal modus operandi.
We regret to state that the report of the High Representative is again very misbalanced. The document does not reflect the real situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BaH). Mr. Inzko operates the elements of information that have been tendentiously picked and torn out of context. He interprets them arbitrarily so as to make them fit into his picture of events.
The report also implies that Bosnian Serbs and Croats are to blame for every difficulty in the way of national reconciliation and that the only way out would be to strengthen the central authorities by means of reducing the constitutional rights of the peoples and entities. Deliberate scaremongering can only create an illusion that the Office of the High Representative (OHR) be a “magic wand” needed to quickly and efficiently solve all the problems. A conclusion begs itself that Mr.Inzko is to be credited for all positive changes, whereas the constituent peoples of Bosnia and Herzegovina are but a sad impediment to this process.
The report reflects a trend towards enhanced interference of the OHR in concrete local affairs, as well as twisted interpretation of historical events, which we believe is very worrisome. Such action provokes tension and makes no contribution to the interethnic dialogue. This is clearly seen from the OHR's instructions and ultimatums addressed to the Bosnian authorities, as well as insinuations regarding collective responsibility of the Serb people for the tragic events of the times of the armed conflict.
We strongly recommend that the High Representative should keep from extended interpretation of his mandate, in particular with regard to the Euro-Atlantic agenda. The OHR is not mandated to address issues of cooperation of Bosnia and Herzegovina with NATO and the European Union. Under the constitutional regulations, those issues are a prerogative of the BaH authorities.
We suggest that Mr. Inzko should stop acting as a self-proclaimed governor, putting himself above the law and the democratic institutions of a rule-of-law state. The High Representative does not have any special toolkits to that end, it is out of the question.
We propose to our colleagues to study a traditionally good alternative to the OHR report – report by the government of the Republika Srpska.
The situation in BaH is rather stable, it poses no threat to the international peace and security. We are not inclined to succumb to the panic that the High Representative deliberately creates around considerations of some BaH peoples regarding the future of their state. We do not think it challenges the peace agreement. What causes real concern though is the efforts of some Bosnian political forces to readdress the Dayton architecture to make it more unitary. Such approaches are inspired from the outside, i.a by the High Representative himself.
We are convinced that the entire responsibility for the developments in the country and its future should completely rest with the legitimate authorities acting within their respective powers and duties. There is no alternative to the mutually respectful domestic dialogue in BaH, to the compromise and consensus as ways to resolve the country’s outstanding challenges. If the Dayton Accords are to be amended, such changes must result from a freewill agreement of the three peoples and the two entities. External interference in the sovereign affairs and unilateral sanctions against the legitimate Bosnian representatives are unacceptable.
For the sake of clarity, let me stress that the BaH peoples are bearers of the country’s sovereignty. It is them (rather than the High Representative or any external factor) who can define the future of the country and its paths of development.
Therefore, we see no added value for the OHR in the domestic BaH process. The activity of the Office runs counter to the principles of a democratic rule-of-law state, it is not accountable to any national or international court. Besides, two constituent peoples out of three are very critical about the activity of the High Representative. It is proved by the fact that on 10 March 2021, the Parliament of the Republika Srpska adopted a resolution that demands to close the Office of the High Representative and delegate all its authorities to governing bodies of Bosnia and Herzegovina. This position cannot be ignored.
We reconfirm our stance towards soonest closure of the OHR which is an anachronism of protectorate over a sovereign European country. The terms and criteria of the closure must be adapted to today’s reality.
We would like to assure you that Russia fully supports the fundamental principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity of Bosnia and Herzegovina, equality of its three constituent peoples and the two entities with broad authorities. The 1995 Peace Agreement remains fully relevant today. It envisages the balance of interests that is still fully effective and, what's more, has no alternative. If one strives to ruin it, it may lead to very grave consequences for both the Balkans and Europe at large.
In response to the High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina:
Since the discussion with Mr.Inzko convenes regularly – i.a. in the Security Council –I will be brief. Let me just address one point that he raised in his statement regarding Euro-Atlantic prospects for Bosnia and Herzegovina.
As you rightly stated, this is not part of your mandate. Besides, you cited some consensus in Bosnia and Herzegovina regarding this prospective, which I would consider as a distortion of facts. I am afraid that claims that BaH population be in support of accession to NATO are not quite true.