Let me start by reiterating that Norway supports the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Bosnia and Herzegovina as one State, comprising two entities and the Brčko-District.
And we welcome the peaceful conduct of the General elections on 2 October.
We were pleased to see citizens exercise their democratic right to elect their representatives- who now have the responsibility to deliver on the people’s aspirations for a peaceful, reform-oriented, and prosperous European country.
This will only be possible if authorities in Bosnia and Herzegovina work together constructively, and in the best interest of all people in the country.
We encourage political actors to seek dialogue, and contribute to finding common and sustainable solutions.
We welcome the decision by the European Commission to recommend candidate status to Bosnia and Herzegovina.
But we note that the country is still facing serious challenges.
There is considerable work to be done before the General Framework Agreement for Peace is fully implemented.
Thus, we urge the authorities to stay committed to the process of democratic transition.
And Norway stands ready to support, and contribute to necessary reforms.
The report from the High Representative outlines that there has been limited political progress on crucial issues.
Norway remains concerned about polarising ethnic-based rhetoric, and we call on all political actors to both condemn- and refrain from - hate speech.
Women’s participation in political life in Bosnia and Herzegovina also remains limited.
They face discrimination, threats, and harassment. This is detrimental to building peace and security.
We strongly encourage authorities to strengthen legal protections, and ensure accountability.
Justice and accountability for war crimes- including conflict-related sexual violence – is essential to building sustainable peace, and an inclusive political environment in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The security situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina remains fragile, and the country is facing its most serious political crisis in the post-war period.
There is a need for continued international assistance to ensure sustainable peace.
EUFOR Althea is key to maintaining stability, and a safe and secure environment for all citizens.
We therefore strongly welcome that this Council just voted in favour of renewing its mandate.
The continued work of Operation EUFOR Althea is of vital importance.
Let me end by expressing our full support for the Office of the High Representative, and its important role in overseeing the implementation of the civilian aspects of the General Framework Agreement for Peace.
We look forward to the day the 5+2 agenda is completed, the office can be closed, and the international supervision of Bosnia and Herzegovina is no longer needed.