“This year will mark several important anniversaries. In July, we will commemorate 25 years since the Srebrenica Genocide. Measures related to pandemic may make it necessary to reduce the scale of commemorative events, but the tragedy nonetheless looms large in our collective memory. International courts have ruled that what happened at Srebrenica in July 1995 was genocide, and nothing can change that. This was the ICTY court which was established in 1993 by Security Council. No one can rewrite history. But in Bosnia and Herzegovina, there are still some who deny the genocide, who reject war crimes verdicts and who glorify convicted war criminals that are getting monuments and having student dormitories named after them. This must stop. I urge all peoples to recognize each other’s suffering – everyone suffered, absolutely – and come together to mourn. There is probably also a need to legally regulate the issue of genocide and holocaust denial,” High Representative Valentin Inzko stated on Wednesday.
October this year will mark 20 years since UN Security Council Resolution 1325, the landmark resolution affirming the role of women in conflict prevention and resolution, peacebuilding, peacekeeping, humanitarian response and in post-conflict reconstruction. In this respect, I commend the State-level Ministry for Human Rights and Refugees’ Agency for Gender Equality for maintaining the UNSCR 1325 Action Plan Coordination Body.
Lastly, November will mark 25 years since the General Framework Agreement for Peace was reached in Dayton, and December will mark 25 years since its signing in Paris. In the spirit of renewing commitments, the authorities of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the international community, should recommit to preserving the Dayton structure through strengthening the State-level institutions and the competencies they have assumed in accordance with State’s prerogatives under the Constitution of Bosnia and Herzegovina. This does not mean centralization but strengthening the functionality of the state.
We should recall that the first lines of the preamble to the Constitution of Bosnia and Herzegovina stress the importance of respect for human dignity, liberty, and equality, as well as peace, justice, tolerance and reconciliation. The sooner that the parties fully commit to these values, the sooner my mission will be complete.
And, above all, BiH must improve the rule of law and the fight against the big pandemic called corruption. This is the cornerstone of democracy and functionality of any country. Young people tell me now that they are leaving Bosnia and Herzegovina not because they have no jobs, but because of the lack of rule of law. I think we have to pay more attention to this issue. I am encouraged to see that BiH officials have recommitted themselves to the implementation of EU priorities to change certain legislation in this area. But this is clearly not enough. The rule of law is not only about adopting legislation; it is about the full implementation of this legislation. It is an ongoing commitment, the state of mind, and a way of life.
The international community must not lose sight of what is at stake in Bosnia and Herzegovina and work together to preserve its collective investments in time and money over the last 25 years – not for their own sake, but in honour of the lives that were lost during the conflict and in honour of those who survived and are still hoping for a better future for themselves and future generations. We should be patient with BiH and cautious about changing the international setup in BiH. We should as the international community work together. Unity is our biggest strength. This is the only recipe for success in our efforts to ensure the long-term stability and viability of the BiH state.
In the end, dear colleagues, allow me to recall that in many countries of the world, we are commemorating the end of World War II these days and are grateful to the Allied Forces who defeated Nazism. This happened also in my own country Austria, and our gratitude is expressed in many monuments constructed 75 years ago.
In Austria, the Allied Forces stayed some 10 years and oversaw the return of democracy. They prevented a revival of fascism and supported our impoverished country with the Marshall Plan. On a wider scale, the one-time greatest enemies, France and Germany, are now not only pillars of the European Union, but global pillars of peace and stability. This should never be forgotten.
There can be no better example of reconciliation and forward-looking agendas. Here I have in mind also the situation in Bosnia Herzegovina, where ultimately – peace, stability and prosperity will prevail.