I thank the High Representative for his briefing today. It continues to be a useful way for the Council to stay abreast of developments in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

As noted by others, this year marks the 20th anniversary of the Dayton Peace Agreements. Today it is appropriate that we celebrate their success in keeping the peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina over the past two decades, while also acknowledging the unfinished business that remains in their implementation.

Since the High Representative last briefed the Council the authorities in Bosnia and Herzegovina took the important step of adopting a reform agenda.  This was a significant move towards delivering on the commitment made by Bosnia’s leadership to carry out necessary reforms, aimed at supporting national institutions, strengthening the rule of law, and improving the socio-economic conditions of the entire population of Bosnia and Herzegovina. 

With these goals in mind, efforts must now focus on converting a shared aspiration into shared action.  The adoption of the Labour Law in the Federation is one example of concrete progress which should be built upon.  We wish the authorities of Bosnia and Herzegovina well in this undertaking, and welcome the EU’s support to Bosnia and Herzegovina in moving the reform agenda forward. 

Reconciliation remains a work in progress.  We note with concern episodes of violence which have taken place this year, including some with an ethnic dimension.  We welcome steps taken by leaders both within Bosnia and Herzegovina and in the region to address these developments.  We also support the presence of the EU-led stabilisation mission as a means of contributing to a stable security environment, and are pleased that the Council has acted today unanimously to re-authorise that mission.  

In addition to the EUFOR presence, the Office of the High Representative retains responsibility for the civilian aspects of the Dayton Peace Agreement.  We encourage further efforts to make progress on the five objectives and two conditions set by the Steering Board of the Peace Implementation Council, which remain prerequisites for the Office’s closure.

As detailed by the High Representative, referenda have been proposed which challenge the authority of the Bosnia and Herzegovina’s judiciary, and which challenge the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Bosnia and Herzegovina itself.  Such moves are provocative and divisive.  They undermine the reconciliation efforts and distract from progressing the reform agenda.  We hope that such proposals can be left behind as Bosnia and Herzegovina moves forward in a greater spirit of unity and inclusiveness.  We believe that this is the best route to stability, peace and prosperity.

Thank you Mr President.