11/06/2018 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 11/06/2018 12:06
Thank you, Mr. President.
Let me also begin by thanking the High Representative, Mr.Valentin Inzko, for his informative briefing today. Sweden continues to fully support your mandate, Mr. Inzko, and your important work for Bosnia and Herzegovina.
23 years have passed since those intense November weeks in Ohio, when the Dayton agreement on the future of Bosnia and Herzegovina was being negotiated. The agreement marked the starting point for a long path of reconstruction and reconciliation. While much has been achieved over the years, important steps remain for Bosnia and Herzegovina to build a country of prosperity, peace, stability and equality for all.
The conduct of general elections last month was one such important step. We welcome that the elections could proceed without any major security incidents. At the same time, we condemn the threats and attacks against journalists during the election campaign. We also regret that the campaign was tainted by divisive and nationalistic rhetoric, and that there was not more attention given to what is most urgently needed, namely reforms.
Socio-economic reforms and improvements in the rule of law must be at the center of Bosnia and Hercegovina's political priorities. High unemployment, widespread corruption and mismanagement erodes the trust between citizens and authorities. Ans as we heard from the High Representative, young and educated citizens are leaving the country to look for opportunity elsewhere. This is a worrying trend that must be reversed. Yet, the pace of reform, unfortunately, has been stalled in recent years.
Political leaders must now assume their responsibilities to allow for a rapid return to a path of reforms. To this end, all relevant actors must now engage in constructive dialogue to form governments and parliaments at all levels without further delay.
Bosnia and Herzegovina reconfirmed its strategic priority of joining the European Union with its application for membership in 2016. For the European Union, further integration of the Western Balkans remains a top priority. We welcome the participation of the EU representative at our meeting this morning, to elaborate on EU efforts, and we align with his statement. A credible EU perspective, based on progress according to own merits, continues to be one of the most powerful drivers for peace, stability and prosperity in the region.
In the work towards deeper integration Bosnia and Herzegovina and its European partners must now strengthen cooperation to meet common challenges. These challenges include trade and sustainable economic development, environmental protection, organized crime, terrorism and migration, to mention a few.
Regional cooperation and reconciliation in the Western Balkans is crucial for stability and progress. Sweden therefore supports the Regional Cooperation Council's important work to strengthen good neighborly relations in the region. Bridging cultural and social differences through increased regional exchanges is essential, not least among children and youth. Involving youth in peacebuilding activities is indeed an important prerequisite for sustaining peace anywhere, as set out in Security Council resolutions 2250 and 2419.
In that same vein, stable peace requires full participation of women. More attention and devotion to this issue is needed. Future reports from the High Representative should better reflect the specific challenges and opportunities for women. Such analysis, integrating a gender perspective, would benefit our future briefings and inform a more strategic response.
Finally, Mr. President,
To move forward, focus must be on the future instead of remaining in the past. This is true both for reconciliation within the country and for its relations with neighbors. Bosnia and Herzegovina can continue to count on strong international support, and in this regard, we welcome today's unanimous adoption of the resolution renewing the mandate for EUFOR ALTHEA.
The European Union's commitment to the Bosnia and Herzegovina EU perspective is unequivocal. Sweden for its part will remain a steadfast partner of Bosnia and Herzegovina on its path towards a stable and prosperous future.
I thank you.