Skoog on behalf of European Union to the UN SC: The future of BiH and its citizens is in the EU

The European Union welcomes the decision of the Security Council to renew the mandate of Operation EUFOR Althea, given its important role in supporting the authorities of Bosnia and Herzegovina in maintaining a safe and secure environment. The European Union also welcomes Bosnia and Herzegovina’s continued strong support for the executive mandate of EUFOR Althea and its continued presence, said Olof Skoog, Ambassador and Head of the EU Delegation to the United Nations, on behalf of the European Union, at the Security Council’s debate on the situation in BiH.

Skoog pointed out that he had the honor to speak on behalf of the European Union and its 27 member states. He added that the candidate countries Turkey, North Macedonia, Montenegro, Albania and the Republic of Moldova join this statement.

Skoog emphasized that the EU once again emphasizes its full and unequivocal commitment to the perspective of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s membership in the EU.

The EU reiterates its full and unequivocal commitment to the EU membership perspective of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The future of Bosnia and Herzegovina and its citizens lies within the European Union. The EU will continue to strengthen and intensify its engagement at all levels to support the country’s political, economic and social transformation, including through continued assistance based on tangible progress on the rule of law and socio-economic reforms, as well as on Bosnia and Herzegovina’s adherence to EU values, rules and standards. Securing solid and irreversible achievements in the areas of the rule of law, the economy, the functioning of democratic institutions, and public administration reforms remains decisive for meeting the requirements of EU membership and represents a long-term investment into peace, democracy, prosperity, security and stability in Europe.

In December 2022, the European Council granted the status of EU candidate country to Bosnia and Herzegovina, on the understanding that the steps identified in the European Commission’s recommendation are taken in order to strengthen the rule of law, the fight against corruption and organized crime, migration management and fundamental rights. In the current geopolitical context, the EU underlines the urgency for the country to move forward on its EU path, in particular via fulfilling all 14 key priorities for the opening of EU accession negotiations identified in the Commission’s Opinion on Bosnia and Herzegovina’s application for EU membership as endorsed by the Council of the European Union in 2019.

The European Union also calls on all political leaders in Bosnia and Herzegovina to swiftly implement the commitments set out in the agreement reached on 12 June 2022 and urgently finalize the constitutional and electoral reform in line with the 14 key priorities. The EU welcomes recent steps taken by Bosnia and Herzegovina in line with these expectations and encourages further progress on EU-related reforms in the coming months.

The EU is seriously concerned about legislation and initiatives in the Republika Srpska entity that run counter to the EU path of Bosnia and Herzegovina, including secessionist rhetoric and questioning the constitutional order of the country.

We deplore the adoption of legislation in the Republika Srpska entity on the inapplicability of the decisions of the Constitutional Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina within the entity. Furthermore, we deplore the entry into force of amendments to the criminal code of the Republika Srpska entity, reintroducing criminal penalties for defamation. Respect for human rights, freedom of expression, media freedom and pluralism, as well as freedom of operation of civil society organizations, are key pillars of a democratic society.

The EU emphasizes that the sovereignty, territorial integrity, constitutional order and international personality of Bosnia and Herzegovina need to be maintained. Any action against these principles will lead to serious consequences.

The EU urges all political actors in Bosnia and Herzegovina to refrain from and renounce any provocative and divisive speeches and actions, in particular those that call into question the sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity of the country, and to put an end to the glorification of convicted war criminals and to actively work towards reconciliation.

The European Union reaffirms its strong support for the mission of High Representative Christian Schmidt in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The EU reiterates its unequivocal commitment to Bosnia and Herzegovina’s EU perspective as a single, united and sovereign country.