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Statement on behalf of the EU on the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina

Date of Speech : 23-03-2005

Place : New York

Speaker : Jean-Marc Hoscheit, Permanent Representative of Luxembourg at the United Nations

Policy area : General Affairs and External Relations

Mr. President,

I have the honour to speak on behalf of the European Union. The Acceding Countries Bulgaria and Romania, the Candidate Countries Turkey and Croatia* and the EFTA countries Norway and Iceland, members of the European Economic Area, align themselves with this declaration.

Mr. President,

As we approach the 10th anniversary of the end of the war and the start of the implementation of the Dayton General Framework Agreement, Bosnia and Herzegovina can be proud of its achievements, as outlined in the High Representative’s report.

Since the Council last considered the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina in November 2004, the European Union’s EUFOR mission (ALTHEA) has taken over from SFOR in what has been recognised by the international community as a seamless transition. The force currently comprises some 6.500 troops from 22 European Union Member states and 11 third countries. This new European Union military operation reinforces the European Union’s comprehensive approach towards Bosnia and Herzegovina and supports its progress towards European Union integration by its own efforts, within the Stabilisation and Association Process.

In synergy with other European Union actors on the ground, EUFOR is contributing to the European Union’s overall engagement in Bosnia and Herzegovina by supporting its assistance programmes and its ongoing police and monitoring missions. In a first high-profile operation, EUFOR supported local authorities in inspecting all underground military facilities throughout Bosnia and Herzegovina, including some suspected to be used by fugitives indicted for war crimes and sealing those not required for official civilian or military use. EUFOR is assisting efforts by the European Union Police Mission and the Customs Financial Assistance Office (CFAO) in the fight against organised crime. Weapons collection activities have also been particularly successful and have yielded large numbers of arms and ammunition. In the coming months, EUFOR will continue to assist local authorities in improving their abilities and capacities in these areas.

Mr. President,

The European Union welcomes the High Representative’s 27th Report pursuant to Security Council resolution 1031 (1995) and recognises the good progress already made on the sixteen reform priorities identified in the European Commission Feasibility Study, especially with regard to the legislative requirements. Implementation and enforcement of the adopted legislation is an important next step. Despite these encouraging developments, the European Commission has not been ready yet to declare ‘significant progress’ across the sixteen   priority areas: some significant hurdles remain to be overcome in order for Bosnia and Herzegovina to advance towards the next stage of its relationship with the European Union.

Mr. President,

I would like to highlight two areas more specifically today: cooperation with the ICTY and the restructuring of police forces.

Full cooperation with the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), in particular by the Republika Srpska, continues to be an essential requirement for Bosnia and Herzegovina’s progress towards the European Union, to which the European Union remains committed. The European Union welcomes the recent increase in the number of voluntary surrenders and transfers of indictees from Bosnia and Herzegovina to the ICTY in The Hague. Continuation of that trend should lead to a situation where all indictees continuing to evade international justice have been brought before the tribunal.   The European Union notes with interest the launch on March 15th of a public campaign in the Republika Srpska advocating the advantages of an intensified co-operation with the ICTY.

Mr. President,

Another area in which significant progress will be essential for further movement towards the European Union is the restructuring of the police forces. The European Union welcomes the recent work of the Police Restructuring Commission (PRC), in which the European Union Police Mission was fully engaged, and encourages the authorities to take advantage of the conclusions of the PRC report and of the High Representative concerning State competencies and territorial structures for Bosnia and Herzegovina’s new police service. A modern and effective police force that is financially stable and well equipped is an essential element in the fight against organised crime. To assist in reaching this goal, the European Union Police Mission has provided advice in the introduction of new border control related legislation underpinning the new State Investigation and Protection Agency (SIPA). At a local level, the European Union Police Mission is assisting in capacity building to help local police achieve financial viability and sustainability.

Mr. President,

As a potential candidate, Bosnia and Herzegovina enjoys a privileged relationship with the European Union. We have been standing steadfastly at the side of the people of Bosnia and Herzegovina throughout the last ten years by providing significant financial, military and human resources. Today, the European Union is engaged more than ever in a large-scale endeavour to enable the people and authorities of Bosnia and Herzegovina to "take charge" and integrate their rightful place in Europe by their own efforts.

* Croatia continues to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process.

This page was last modified on : 29-03-2005

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