I welcome Valentin Inzko back to the Council and thank him for his briefing and report. I join others in reaffirming our full and continuous support for his role as High Representative to Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The United Kingdom welcomes the unanimous adoption of resolution 2247 renewing the mandate of EUFOR Althea. The deterrence and security it provides are fundamental during this period of reform in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The political and security situation on the ground remains concerning; stability is not yet entrenched and divisive ethnic rhetoric sadly persists.
And that is why we welcome the Council’s unanimity on this mandate renewal. We have sent a clear message today that the whole Security Council is committed to the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and to the implementation of Dayton and to the delivery of the EU reform agenda.
Let me be clear; the United Kingdom is committed to Bosnia and Herzegovina’s future membership of the European Union and NATO. And we are fully committed to helping Bosnia and Herzegovina undertake the reforms necessary to achieve their goal of Euro-Atlantic integration.
In that regard, I am pleased that the European Union was able to bring in to force the Stabilisation and Association Agreement earlier this year. We welcome the commitment made by Bosnia’s political parties to a substantive reform agenda, one that will stabilise the economy and improve the functionality of the state.
And we welcome the progress made on the issue of defence property, which is needed for entry into force of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s Membership Action Plan; a prerequisite to NATO membership. We hope we will see continued progress in the coming months.
However, serious challenges continue to threaten Bosnia and Herzegovina’s stability and security. Last month, the EU’s Foreign Affairs Council strongly condemned the threat of a referendum in the Republika Srpska questioning the state-level judiciary and the powers of the High Representative.
Threats of a referendum are divisive, anti-constitutional and contrary to the Dayton Agreement. There is a need to improve the justice system, at all levels. And we welcome the recent steps by the European Commission to re-energise the Structured Dialogue on Justice. That is the right way to address legitimate concerns, not through divisive threats.
We are fully committed to the continuation of the Office of the High Representative until the completion of the 5+2 agenda. The UK offers our full support to the High Representative as the final authority on the interpretation of civilian implementation of the Peace Agreement. And we support the use of the Bonn Powers if the situation requires.
Let me close with a final reflection. The Dayton Peace Accords, 20 years ago and four months after the genocide of Srebrenica, brought peace and the prospect of a prosperous stable future. As we look back and remember how far the country has come, let us also look into the future and see how much more progress is needed before all citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina benefit from the lasting prosperity and stability that they deserve.
This will only be achieved when all political leaders look beyond short-sighted, self-interested actions. And those leaders should be struck today as I am by the strength of concern in this meeting of the Security Council about any rhetoric and any action that undermines Dayton.
Significant work lies ahead, requiring strong and courageous leadership.
I am pleased that the United Kingdom, and this Council, today, have committed to support the authorities of Bosnia and Herzegovina to make this a reality.