Statement at the UNSC Debate on Bosnia & Herzegovina
Statement02 November 2022
Thank you very much, Mr President. And let me begin by congratulating you on your Presidency of the Council this month.
Mr President, Ireland very much welcomes the renewal, just now, of the Resolution authorizing EUFOR Operation ALTHEA.
Ireland is very proud to participate in this mission, which continues to play a vital role in safeguarding peace and security in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Its presence remains indispensable.
The renewal sends an important message in support of the stability and security of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the wider Western Balkans region, at a time of such uncertainty.
Mr President, for many people of my generation from all across the world, Balkan wars of the 1990s were a shocking wake up call. I certainly remember what was happening very, very vividly. It is a reminder for all of us across the entire world that war is never a distant or foreign thing, but something that can happen everywhere and even on the European continent.
The brutality and inhumanity of that war, like wars everywhere, shocked us all. Sadly, today of course young Europeans are experiencing the same sense of disbelief, as they watch Russia’s unprovoked and unjustified and illegal aggression against Ukraine.
Yet, today, as Minister for Europe, when I look at Bosnia and Herzegovina, I see a country unrecognisable from the scenes of the past. While there is much to do, today we see a Bosnia and Herzegovina whose future undoubtedly lies with the European Union.
In this context, Ireland fully supports Bosnia and Herzegovina’s EU perspective as a single, sovereign, united and multi-ethnic state.
We warmly welcome that candidate status has now been recommended by the European Commission. Ireland and other EU Member States will continue to support Bosnia and Herzegovina on its path to EU membership, but the impetus for urgent reforms must come from within.
So we hope that this recommendation will motivate the political system, particularly Bosnia and Herzegovina’s newly elected leaders, to forge ahead with key reforms. We also hope that it will reassure the people of Bosnia and Herzegovina, especially your youth, that the country remains an important priority for the European Union.
Mr President, Ireland remains fully supportive of the Office of the High Representative.
We encourage all parties in Bosnia and Herzegovina to both respect and to engage to the fullest extent with the High Representative and his Office.
The High Representative’s most recent report, which we welcome, has provided a clear and detailed assessment of the deeply concerning political situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
It was very positive that last month’s elections were able to proceed in a largely secure and peaceful manner, However, we remain greatly concerned by the divisive and negative rhetoric used, including in the lead up to the elections.
We call on all parties to repudiate such rhetoric, which only deepens existing divisions and diminishes prospects for reconciliation. There is no place for such rhetoric in a modern European democracy.
Those elected have now been given a clear mandate to form a government and begin acting for those that they represent.
It is paramount that government formation takes place quickly, to put an end to the political deadlock and paralysis of state institutions, and to serve the people properly, especially women and youth.
Mr President, since the signing of the Dayton agreement, we have seen considerable progress in building up the institutions and economy of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Much more work remains, however, to allow Bosnia and Herzegovina to continue moving forward continually.
Threats and unilateral actions which serve to entrench ethnic tensions and further divide or undermine the State cannot be tolerated. Elected representatives, working together with the national leaderships, must cooperate to address the needs of their citizens.
This means addressing the needs of all citizens. We call on all parties to uphold and respect equality and inclusion as key principles that will underpin a stable prosperous future for Bosnia and Herzegovina.
This includes enabling women, especially young women, to rightfully participate in decision-making in all its dimensions. Despite existing legislation, we know that the participation of women in politics remains low and that obstacles to their safe and full participation exist.
We urge the authorities to ensure the development of effective mechanisms for the implementation of quotas to enhance women’s political representation.
We reiterate our call on the High Representative to focus on the important issue of gender equality, and for detailed reporting on the issue to be included in future OHR reports.
We encourage greater progress in fulfilling the 5+2 Agenda, which remains the only prescribed method by which the Office of the High Representative can complete its mission and entrust full responsibility for its own affairs to the State institutions and people of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Progress is needed on reform of the electoral framework to meet European standards and to guarantee that all citizens can exercise their political rights. We regret that political leaders in Bosnia and Herzegovina have been unable to find a workable, mutually-agreeable solution.
We do hope to see a lasting agreement on Bosnia and Herzegovina’s electoral system, reached through further dialogue, and which enjoys the support of all political parties.
Mr President, Bosnia and Herzegovina undeniably has challenging work ahead of it.
However, through dialogue and a genuine political will to seriously address the issues facing the country, we are confident that the legacy of the past will not dictate its future, and that Bosnia and Herzegovina will be able to realise its full potential as an inclusive, secure and prosperous state, within the European family of nations.
Thank you very much, go raibh mile maith agat.