The political directors of the Peace Implementation Council Steering Board (PIC SB) reaffirmed their “unequivocal commitment to the territorial integrity and fundamental structure of Bosnia and Herzegovina as a single, sovereign state comprising of two entities,” said the communique issued on Wednesday after the two-day session of this international body that oversees the implementation of the peace process in BiH.
The officials agreed that all parties need to comply fully with the General Framework Agreement for Peace (GFAP) and that Bosnia’s two semi-autonomous entities – the Serb-dominated Republika Srpska (RS) and Bosniak-Croat shared Federation (FBiH), have no right to secede from BiH.
They also reiterated full support for the High Representative, the international envoy who monitors the implementation of the peace agreement which ended the 1992-95 Bosnian war.
The PIC SB warned that nearly half of 2021 has elapsed without any significant progress made in the country, “despite the appeals to make use of the current year, as a non-election year, to carry out and speed up the agreed reform path of BiH.”
“The PIC SB repeatedly urged the BiH authorities to reach agreement on limited constitutional and electoral reform, addressing the European Court of Human Rights’ Sejdic/Finci and related judgements on non-discrimination. In the process of electoral reform, the BiH Constitutional Court’s election-related decisions must be taken into account,” the political directors said following their regular session.
They welcomed the establishment of the working group in charge of the changes to the election law, and “underscored the need for the active engagement of all leaders across the political spectrum and civil society, as well as the Central Election Commission, in order to succeed in these reforms.”
Besides urging the authorities to implement the reforms regarding the rule of law and the fight against corruption – as the key part of the EU accession process, the PIC SB also called on political leaders to refrain from “dead-end rhetoric and actions centered on the so-called ‘peaceful dissolution’ of BiH” that emerged in Republika Srpska institutions.
“In addition, the PIC SB expressed its concern over the continued glorification of convicted war criminals, denial of genocide and war crimes verdicts and other divisive acts which undermine the mutual trust and reconciliation needed to create a better future for all in BiH. The PIC SB supports all efforts by BiH leaders and citizens to engage in dialogue and concrete actions to promote trust and reconciliation and calls upon all leaders to cease divisive rhetoric and actions. The PIC SB calls on BiH leadership, to jointly honour all war victims and survivors as the foundation for a peaceful future,” said the joint statement.
As for positive developments, the PIC SB singled out the implementation of the Mostar election results and the formation of the City Council as well as the budget adoption in that city.
The PIC SB urged the authorities, political and institutional leaders in BiH to, among other things, address the priorities outlined in the European Commission’s Opinion on the country’s EU membership application, to carry out limited constitutional and electoral reform, to take concrete steps towards reconciliation and finalise the government formation.
Finally, the PIC SB welcomed the appointment of German envoy Christian Schmidt as the new High Representative and expressed full support in strengthening the stability in BiH “by ensuring consistent implementation of the civilian aspect of the GFAP.”
The Russian Federation did not agree with the conclusions.