I would like to thank you, High Representative Valentin Inzko for your comprehensive briefing today. We really commend your work, in particular, as the tasks you tackle remain closer to 100% although your team’s size and budget have substantially decreased over the years. We fully support a robust and effective Office of High Representative which is necessary in order to fulfil its mandated responsibilities and mitigate risks to stability in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Mr. Inzko, your analysis of the situation in the country in your latest regular report to the Secretary-General is excellent and we encourage you to also include the elements of implementation of the Women Peace and Security agenda in future reporting.
Estonia strongly supports Bosnia and Herzegovina’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, and is certain that Bosnia and Herzegovina’s future is adjoined with the Euro-Atlantic path, in line with the legitimate aspiration of its citizens. We welcome the local elections held in the city of Mostar on the 20th December last year for the first time since 2008, and the adoption of the revised National War Crimes Strategy, which both represent important steps forward for the country on its EU integration path.
We call on the Presidency leaders to seize the opportunity of 2021 as non-electoral year to show concrete progress on the implementation of the rest of the key priorities of the European Commission’s Opinion, in particular the electoral and constitutional reform to ensure equality and non-discrimination of citizens and advancing the rule of law. We also encourage them to promote youth employment and education as well as gender equality and to implement Women Peace and Security agenda in an inclusive manner.
We reiterate our full support to EUFOR Althea and its mandate, as the Mission is a strong contributor to the country’s efforts in maintaining a safe and secure environment, which is particularly crucial in the current complicated political climate in the country.
The rise of nationalistic and divisive rhetoric in Bosnia and Herzegovina is deeply concerning. Spreading provocative rhetoric, denying war crimes, glorifying convicted war criminals and downplaying the Srebrenica genocide in any way is unacceptable.
We urge the political parties in the country to engage in dialogue and foster an environment conducive to unity, consensus and constructive engagement in the interest of the citizens. Respublika Srpska should stop advocating the secession and refrain from any actions or policies that could destabilize the country. It is high time to put aside the differences, focus on lowering political tensions and promoting reconciliation, and concentrate on forming the Government in the Federation.
A functioning Bosnia and Herzegovina Constitutional Court is of vital strategic importance for the country and we fully support its international judges. All political parties in the country have to implement important judicial decisions of the Constitutional Court and the European Court of Human Rights.
As we learned from the High Representative’s latest report, the COVID-19 pandemic has seriously disrupted the BiH’s economy. Estonia stands in strong support of the EU’s solidarity with the Western Balkans and its addressing the immediate health needs as well as the long-term social and economic impact resulting from the pandemic. We commend the work and support of all others, such as the UN Resident Coordinator and the UNDP, who have provided assistance to Bosnia and Herzegovina during pandemic.
We also commend the UNICEF, UNDP and UNESCO for implementing Dialogue for the Future project which seeks to enhance the local dialogue platforms – bringing together local leaders as well as civil society, youth, religious leaders and women’s organizations.
To move forward, all political leaders of the country should deliver concrete results and implement fundamental reforms. We call on the leaders to work in solidarity and unity.