Remarks by Ambassador Heusgen during the Security Council VTC Meeting on Bosnia-Herzegovina, May 6, 2020

06.05.2020 - Speech

Check Against Delivery

Let me thank Valentin Inzko for his briefing. Germany will continue to support your office and we'll continue this support until Bosnia and Herzegovina has met the conditions laid out in the 5+2 agenda. Let me thank you in particular for the briefing today. I want to recall that you mentioned the problem with Serb minorities in the Federation, who have no possibility to participate in municipal elections so far, so thank you for your balanced approach. I also want to underline that you actually did highlight the problem to getting the government to hold elections. So you're doing a very good job.

I would like to thank you for pointing to May 8th: the end of the Second World War and to the German-French reconciliation, which we are very grateful for and which has brought enormous results. I want to link this to the statement made by Irina Hasic. Thank you very much for being here with us. For us, what you said is very important about the point of reconciliation. You mentioned that 25 years after Srebrenica, there are still separate schools and textbooks.

I see our friend, the Ambassador of Bosnia and Herzegovina, listening. Maybe he could say something and work towards something like what we did in Germany and France, with joint textbooks and history books so that pupils are taught the same rather than separate curricula. So maybe our friend can say something about this, so that we overcome the separation and stereotypes that you mentioned.

If my figures are right, there were more than 500,000 young people who have left your country. They left not because of missed economic opportunities, but because they are frustrated about all the uncertainties regarding the lack of elections, the future of the country, the political disagreement, as well as what Valentin in his statement called the “big pandemic”: corruption and the lack of rule of law. This is really something one needs to work on. The European Union and Germany will continue to stand by your side.

Just to mention that today the Western Balkans Summit is starting. Here the European Union will underline its commitment to the Western Balkans and to Bosnia and Herzegovina in particular. We remain committed to a credible EU perspective for Bosnia and Herzegovina. NATO also remains open to further intensifying cooperation. In this regard, we welcome the submission of the reform program for Bosnia-Herzegovina to NATO as it paves the way for future cooperation.

On the European Union, Valentin at the beginning was enthusiastic about the program that the Presidency of Bosnia-Herzegovina has started working to implement and the reform priorities laid out by the European Commission's opinion. While I do see that the program was adopted just before our meeting, I can only say, the proof of the pudding is in the eating. So we have to see what Bosnia-Herzegovina does afterwards with this program to actually implement it. The people of Bosnia Herzegovina have been disappointed too often about this. So the initiatives being taken by Bosnia-Herzegovina will be measured by their implementation. Only real reform will be acceptable. And we urgently need reforms of rule of law, good governance and socio-economic policy so that the young people have future in the country.

Let me come back to what Vasily [Nebenzya]  said about Russia being the guarantor of the Dayton agreement. We believe it's important that we continue to implement Dayton. One of the issues is the rule of law and the constitutional court. I just don't understand how the criticism against the constitutional court, in particularly from the Republika Srpska, is covered by what Vasily said about being guarantor of Dayton. So I would really appreciate if Russia would see that the criticism of the international judges is stopped. We believe that the new judge, Angelika Nussberger, is very well qualified and one of the highest ranking German judges. She's ready to work to improve the rule of law in Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Second to last point, we must prevent a rewriting of history. This holds true with Srebrenica. 25 years on, we have to continue to commemorate the atrocity and show our respect to the victims and their families.

The last point is the women, peace and security issues. You also mentioned 1325. We continue to believe that the implementation of the women, peace and security agenda is key and should be among the priorities of the international presence in the country. Valentin, I can only support what you said and support your promoting the participation of women in all decision making and in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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