Statement as delivered by Carolyn Schwalger, Deputy Permanent Representative of New Zealand to the United Nations, 8 November 2016

I welcome High Representative Inzko and the Permanent Representative of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

We are pleased that the Council has today re-authorised the European Union military presence in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The EU-led Mission continues to play an important role in supporting Bosnia and Herzegovina’s efforts to maintain a safe and secure environment.

The Mission also offers capacity building that helps to ensure that Bosnia and Herzegovina has the tools it needs to respond to security threats.

Since the Council last discussed the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina, it has continued to make significant progress on its goal of EU membership. In September another milestone was reached when the EU Commission was asked to conduct an assessment of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s membership application.

While there is a long road ahead, it is another sign of what Bosnia and Herzegovina can achieve when its leaders unite around a common purpose. We wish the country well as it pursues this path of integration in the months and years to come.

We welcome the progress Bosnia and Herzegovina has made on its reform agenda. This agenda provides a roadmap for strengthening public administration and improving socio-economic conditions. But maintaining momentum in the implementation of this agenda will require persistence and determination in the face of difficult decisions.

As Bosnia and Herzegovina pursues EU membership, we look forward to regional and international partners supporting implementation of this reform agenda for the benefit of all of its citizens.

We also hope to see accelerated progress on the five objectives and two conditions necessary for the closure of the Office of the High Representative.

As we have heard today, the High Representative has reported actions in Bosnia and Herzegovina which directly challenge the authority of state judicial institutions and the General Framework Agreement for Peace. This includes the holding of a referendum in contravention of a ruling of the Constitutional Court.

These activities are de-stabilising and undermine the rule of law. We urge all political actors to respect state institutions and constitutional order. Disagreements should be dealt with through dialogue. We hope that divisive and inflammatory actions will be left behind and that leaders choose to focus on what can be achieved by working together constructively.

Divisive rhetoric also serves to undermine reconciliation efforts. More than two decades after the Dayton Peace Accords brought an end to a devastating conflict, true reconciliation remains an unfinished project.

We hope that all political leaders in Bosnia and Herzegovina can move beyond their points of difference and focus on fulfilling the aspiration of all of its citizens for stability and prosperity.

An inclusive and united society will ultimately make the country stronger, more stable, and improve the welfare of all of its peoples. That is the future we wish to see for Bosnia and Herzegovina.