Let me use this opportunity to welcome you Mr. Schmidt to the Council, and to your challenging position as High Representative in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Norway looks forward to continuing our close cooperation with you and your team. Thank you also for your interesting brief today, which together with the report, outlines some of the serious challenges that Bosnia and Herzegovina continue to face.
History reveals how political instability can increase under specific conditions. We are therefore concerned that the current political crisis in BiH could eventually develop into a more serious security situation.
We are particularly concerned about the increase in aggressive ethnic rhetoric, and we call on the authorities to both condemn- and refrain from- hate speech.
The already difficult political climate in BiH also has the potential to further deteriorate due to the impact of the war in Ukraine. While the responsibility to maintain stability and security rests with the local authorities. The international community must, and will respond appropriately if needed.
Norway strongly believes that EUFOR Althea’s contribution to maintaining peace, stability, and a safe and secure environment in Bosnia and Herzegovina, is vital. And - unfortunately - still necessary. In this respect, we welcome the deployment of an additional five hundred reserve personnel as a precautionary measure.
EUFOR Althea’s mandate is to be renewed in November. And Norway will work hard with other Council members towards the renewal of a strong mandate.
Justice and accountability for war crimes- including conflict-related sexual violence- are essential to building sustainable peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina. As the Secretary-General highlighted in his latest report on CRSV in April, while there has been a reparation scheme in place for many decades- insufficient progress has been made. We encourage the acceleration of measures to deliver justice for survivors, and urge the High representative to engage with authorities and partners on furthering accountability for crimes of CRSV.
Norway fully supports the Office of the High Representative, and believes in its important role in overseeing the implementation of the civilian aspects of the General Framework Agreement for Peace. Nevertheless, we are looking forward to the day this is fulfilled, the office can be closed, and the international supervision of Bosnia and Herzegovina phased out. However, this requires that BiH makes further progress on the “5+2 Agenda”.
This is only possible if all political actors in BiH work constructively together, and in the best interest of all people in Bosnia-Herzegovina. We urge the authorities of Bosnia and Herzegovina to stay committed to the process of transition towards a peaceful, reform-oriented, and prosperous European country. The international community also stands ready to support and contribute to these necessary reforms.
Let me end by reiterating that Norway fully supports the sovereignty, territorial integrity, and fundamental structure of Bosnia and Herzegovina as a single, sovereign State, comprising two entities and the Brcko District.