The High Representative to Bosnia has told the UN Security Council that the work of internationally overseeing the 1995 Dayton Peace Accords was far from complete.
Addressing the UN Security Council on May 15 in New York, the High Representative to Bosnia, Valentin Inzko, said this year had been a year of learning from mistakes made earlier.
Inzko said elected officials in Bosnia continued to neglect people, recalling the February demonstrations that broke out in several towns and cities over frustration with the socio-economic situation, corruption and elected politicians in general.
‘The same old mistake – putting the interests of a privileged political class before those of the country and its citizens – continues to be made,’ Inzko said in New York.
‘The status quo and the current way of doing politics in Bosnia and Herzegovina is so very clearly working for just a chosen few – those who are in power or close to power,’ he added.
Inzko said it was time for the international community to learn too, as the protests were a wake-up call not only for the politicians in Bosnia, but for the international community.
‘As one of my esteemed predecessors pointed out recently – if we go on doing what we are doing, we will go on getting what we are getting,’ he said.
“So, after the next elections there is going to have to be a fundamental change in the way politics is conducted in Bosnia and Herzegovina, to focus on the needs of all citizens, not just the appetites of a chosen few,’ he added.
‘Clearly our job is Bosnia and Herzegovina is not yet complete,’ he pointed out. ‘This is the time to reaffirm our vision of a united and reintegrated Bosnia and Herzegovina…the time to regroup and to recalibrate our approach.’
Inzko’s report emphasized several problems that had either reappeared from the previous years or emerged in the past six months.
In terms of challenges to the 1995 peace agreement, the report some officials from the Bosnian Serb entity, Republika Srpska, sought to exploit events in Ukraine to promote their own separatist agenda, repeatedly calling for an end to a united Bosnia and Herzegovina.
‘I have made clear repeatedly that the Dayton Peace Agreement does not allow for the entities to secede,’ Inzko noted.
‘The international community must continue to say clearly that our commitment to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Bosnia and Herzegovina is absolute,’ he said.
Inzko also stated concern about the April decision of Republika Srpska government to regulate residence issues, in response to the blockade on amendments to the state-level law in the Bosnian parliament.
‘Residence is regulated by the state and it must continue to be regulated by the state,’ he said. ‘We cannot have the entities taking unilateral action in this way.
‘I am particularly concerned that in the coming months the ongoing controversy over residence and voting rights could lead to disputes on the ground, particularly in municipalities across Republika Srpska,’ he said.
‘It is especially important that no one is discriminated against on the basis of ethnicity or because they are a returnee,’ he added.
New residency rules in Republika Srpska introduced in April mean that more documents proving ownership of a home are now needed than in the rest of Bosnia.
The decision was made after Bosnia’s state-level Parliament failed to agree on a new residency law.
The Republika Srpska said it took a unilateral decision in the light of security concerns.
However, critics said the decision violated the Bosnian constitution and harmed the rights of returnees.
Several hundred Bosniak returnees had their residence and identity cards annulled last year after police did not find them in their registered homes in what some described as targeted discrimination against returnees.