Swedish statement at the UN Security Council Briefing on Bosnia and Herzegovina
National statement delivered by Minister Councellor Joakim Vaverka on behalf of Sweden at the United Nations Security Council Briefing on Bosnia and Herzegovina, 8 May 2018, New York.
Let me begin by joining others in congratulating you on assuming the Presidency of the Council for the month of May. We look forward to working closely with you and your team in the coming weeks. Let me also express my appreciation for the clear and insightful briefing today from the High Representative, Mr Valentin Inzko. Mr Inzko, you can rely on Sweden's full and continued support in your important efforts in support of Bosnia and Herzegovina going forward.
Sweden aligns itself with the statement to be delivered later on behalf of the European Union.
In October of last year, the Council of the European Union reiterated, once again, its unequivocal commitment to Bosnia and Herzegovina's EU perspective. Central to this perspective is its commitment to the EU integration process and the reform agenda.
Unfortunately, the pace of reform in Bosnia and Herzegovina has stalled since last year, yielding only very modest results. It is now crucial that adequate reform of the electoral law takes place in order for elections to happen in October and for their results to be implemented. We regret that, thus far, there seems to be no real desire to reach a compromise on this issue.
Implementation of the reform agenda must be stepped up, urgently, to put necessary reforms back on track, with an emphasis on the rule of law and socio-economic development. This is essential for the future of Bosnia and Herzegovina as high unemployment and widespread corruption are contributing to a worrying trend of young, educated people leaving the country.
The security situation on the ground remains relatively calm and stable; nonetheless, there are worrying developments. The recurring use of separatist, divisive and nationalistic rhetoric threatens the integrity and unity of the country. We call on all parties to refrain from engaging in ethnically motivated disputes and agendas.
Political leaders in Bosnia and Herzegovina must live up to their responsibility in this regard.
Sweden believes that a credible EU perspective, based on conditionality and progress on its own merits, is one of the most powerful drivers for peace, stability and prosperity in the Western Balkans. The future of the region is closely interconnected with the future of the rest of Europe. Joint challenges require joint solutions. Therefore, we must strengthen our cooperation to meet common challenges, such as organized crime, terrorism, and migration.
To move forward, the focus of our efforts should be on the future and not on the past, both within Bosnia and Herzegovina and in its relations with its neighbours. Regional cooperation and reconciliation are crucial for stability and progress in the region and beyond. We support the Regional Cooperation Council in its important work to strengthen good neighbourly relations in the Western Balkans. To build peaceful mutual understanding between the countries of the region, cultural and social differences between communities must be bridged, not least among children and youth.
It is also essential to recognise and address the scars of war for survivors. In this regard, sexual and gender based violence committed during the war must be addressed. We welcome Bosnia and Herzegovina's National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security, which should be implemented in an inclusive manner.
We acknowledge the need for discussions on the reconfiguration of the international presence in Bosnia and Herzegovina. We remain supportive of the idea of phasing out the international presence in due course; when the situation on the ground allows for it. However, we do not believe that the current situation is sufficiently stable for a phasing down at the present moment in time.
Since the end of the war in 1995, Bosnia and Herzegovina, supported by the international community, not least the European Union, has been on a journey to build a better future for all its people. We will continue to support these efforts, as Bosnia and Herzegovina works towards realizing its European perspective and building a country of prosperity, peace, stability and equality for all.