The High Representative, Valentin Inzko, addressed the UN Security Council (UNSC) today and presented his regular six-month report on the status of peace implementation in Bosnia and Herzegovina, covering the period from 16 October 2018 through 15 April 2019.
“Seven months after the General Elections, the process of building coalitions and appointing governments continues to dominate BiH’s political dynamics. While Republika Srpska and most FBiH cantons have moved swiftly to form governments, regrettably, there has been no appointment of a new Council of Ministers or the FBiH Government,” said the High Representative.
At the beginning of his address, the High Representative highlighted a recent issue that has raised tensions – the Republika Srpska’s legislative move aimed to create a reserve police force. This has raised concerns in the FBiH, where a competent parliamentary committee has said it would do the same. “The current political discourse related to the reserve police forces in the entities, which started with the unilateral step taken by the RS on this issue, does not contribute to peace and stability in Bosnia and Herzegovina. On the contrary, it has generated a negative spiral of mistrust and competition. Instead, the authorities at all levels should work towards better cooperation in order to maximize public security and a safe and secure environment. Immigration, refugee and asylum policy are the constitutional responsibility of state institutions and their capacity should be reinforced. This would be an appropriate example of better cooperation,” said the High Representative.
Regrettably, divisive and destabilizing rhetoric, sometimes from the very same leaders who profess a commitment to the country’s EU path, remained a prominent feature throughout the reporting period. In addition to separatist statements from some RS politicians, the main Croat parties persistently rejected the judgments of international courts concerning their wartime leadership and sought to resuscitate the structures of that period’s para-state. Also, earlier in the year, the largest Bosniak party announced its intention to launch an initiative to challenge the name of Republika Srpska, which predictably led to further threats of secession. In this context, the High Representative stressed that “the Constitution of BiH recognizes that Bosnia and Herzegovina consists of two entities, the Federation of BiH and Republika Srpska.”
Lack of commitment to the rule of law also remains a serious problem in BiH. The High Representative mentioned unimplemented rulings in the “Ljubic” case and on the Mostar electoral system, the latter of which has prevented the holding of local elections since 2008. He also underlined the failure to implement the ECHR rulings in the “Sejdic-Finci” and related cases, which leaves in place a system that discriminates against some citizens who are unable to run for public office. In addition, the High Representative pointed out that several FBiH cantons still have not met their longstanding obligation to ensure the full equality of Serbs, while the RS authorities are still disrespecting verdicts concerning the registration of defense property and the “9th January” RS Day.
In conclusion, the High Representative implored BiH’s political leaders to abandon irresponsible rhetoric and take strides to keep the country moving forward on the EU path.
The full text of the High Representative’s address is available on the OHR website.