The Peace Implementation Council Steering Board (PIC SB) Political Directors met via video conference on 2-3 June 2020 to review the process of implementation of the General Framework Agreement for Peace (GFAP), which remains the basis for a stable, secure and prosperous Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH). The PIC SB reminded all parties of their obligation to comply fully with the GFAP, all its annexes, and decisions of the High Representative. It reaffirmed its unequivocal commitment to the territorial integrity and fundamental structure of BiH as a single, sovereign state comprising two entities. The PIC SB restated that the entities have no right to secede from BiH and only exist legally by virtue of the BiH Constitution. The PIC SB reminded authorities in BiH that the BiH Constitution is an integral part of the GFAP and that the decisions of the BiH Constitutional Court are final and binding and must be implemented.
The PIC SB reiterated its full support for the High Representative in ensuring complete respect for the GFAP and carrying out his mandate under Annex 10 and relevant UN Security Council Resolutions, which remains unchanged. It underlined that the International Community retains the necessary instruments to uphold the GFAP. The PIC SB emphasized the need to fully implement the 5+2 agenda, which remains necessary for the closure of the Office of the High Representative.
The PIC SB acknowledged the efforts of the authorities at all levels in combating the COVID-19 pandemic, which have contributed to preventing widespread outbreaks and minimizing the loss of life. By setting aside ongoing political disputes, the functioning of the state-level decision-making institutions played a key role in fighting the pandemic. The PIC SB commends the citizens of BiH for confronting these extraordinary circumstances with a remarkable degree of discipline, solidarity and unity, and expresses condolences to the families who lost loved ones.
The PIC SB welcomed the ending of the states of emergency in the entities and the Brčko District and the respective governments and parliaments returning to work in accordance with standard procedures. The PIC SB encourages the authorities at all levels to coordinate their efforts towards a nationwide economic recovery and welcomes the 2 June decision of the BiH Council of Ministers (CoM) on the distribution of the EUR 330 million loan from the International Monetary Fund in accordance with the existing agreement.
In this context, the PIC SB urges for transparency and accountability in the expenditure of public funds and international assistance at all times, but even more so during a crisis. It is essential to coordinate with relevant state-level bodies to deliver international assistance properly and effectively. The PIC SB is concerned about reports of suspect procurements during the pandemic involving millions of convertible marks in public funds. The spending of public taxpayer money and of loans and grants by the international community are equally affected. The PIC SB urges the state-level authorities to adopt amendments to the BiH Law on Public Procurement aimed at bringing it closer to the EU acquis and to adopt the measures recommended in the 2016-2020 Strategy for Development of the Public Procurement System as priorities. The PIC SB called on the relevant law enforcement agencies to investigate and prosecute suspicious cases.
The PIC SB welcomed the initiative of the BiH Presidency to lead reforms aimed at fulfilling the European Commission’s Opinion 14 key priorities, expressed appreciation for the Collegium for European Integration to take forward the initiative. In this regard, the PIC SB also called on all actors to cooperate with the aim to move forward on BiH’s EU path. Furthermore, PIC SB welcomes the establishment of the socioeconomic task force and call on it to become operational.
The PIC SB urged the BiH authorities to make the necessary reforms related to the rule of law and the fight against corruption, which are also a part of the EU agenda. The PIC SB underscored that reforms in the area of the judiciary are a fundamental priority and expressed the international community’s commitment to assist the BiH authorities in their endeavour. The PIC SB encouraged the political parties represented in the BiH Parliament to demonstrate their commitment to judicial reform, including through the work of the Investigative Committee of the BiH House of Representatives for Assessing the State of Judicial Institutions in BiH. The PIC SB took note of the need to reform the High Judicial and Prosecutorial Council (HJPC) to address conflicts of interest and other integrity-related issues, strengthen independence, disciplinary and professional accountability, and enable legal remedies against HJPC decisions, calling on all authorities to ensure that the Law on the HJPC is amended as soon as possible.
The PIC SB deplored the continued threats by the authorities of the Republika Srpska to withdraw from state institutions and block decision-making at the state level. In this regard, the PIC SB reiterated its full support for the work of the BiH Constitutional Court and its judges.
* The Russian Federation does not agree with this Communiqué.