MIL OSI Translation. Region: Russian Federation –
Question: In the UN Security Council, Russia proposed to prematurely abolish the Office of the High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina, stating that the country no longer needs the “tutelage” of “postcolonial powers”, despite the fact that the country is far from meeting the conditions for ending UN participation, known as the “5 + 2” formula, with which Russia agreed. What is the point of wanting to close the Office of the High Representative anyway?
Answer: The Russian Federation, as you know, has consistently advocated the final winding down of the Office of the High Representative (WUA) for BiH. It is worth recalling that back in 2006, the Steering Committee of the Council for the Implementation of the Peace Agreement for BiH (RK SVMS) made a fundamental decision to close the WUA. Indeed, our country supported the 5 + 2 Program in 2008 – in an environment that was fundamentally different from the current one. In that distant year, the calculation of the international community was based on the fact that the WUA on the basis of the “5 + 2 Program” will be closed in a short time. The fact that this has not happened so far (and some of the conditions remain unfulfilled) indicates that the Program has long failed to meet the modern realities of BiH and, at least, needs to be adapted. “Strengthening the rule of law” and “positive assessment of the situation in BiH” are very vague formulations that allow for broad interpretation, which is abused by our Western partners in Kazakhstan. Everything suggests that it is necessary to look for another way to complete the work of the WUA.
In this regard, we would like to draw your attention to the PACE resolution 1384 (2004) “On strengthening democratic institutions in BiH”, which clearly indicates the incompatibility of WUAs with the principles of a democratic and sovereign state and the need to curtail it. The status of the High Representative as an institution standing outside the law and above the law, with absolute, unlimited power, raises serious questions. We doubt that in a modern European democratic country, such as Bosnia and Herzegovina, there is a place for a structure whose activities are contrary to the principles of the rule of law: the High Representative is not accountable even to courts – neither national nor international.
At the same time, the persistence with which Western partners strive to ensure the continuation of the functioning of the WUA, despite the arguments in favor of the abolition of this institution, pushes us to the conclusion that the partners intend to use the EaP resource not for the purpose of implementing the General Framework Agreement on Peace in BiH, but for it. revision, provision of their own, non-Dayton tasks. This is evidenced by both the promoted slogan “less Dayton, more Brussels”, and the so-called ” “14 Priorities” for BiH in the context of its application for the status of a candidate for EU membership. Some of the “priorities” on the powers of the entities (Republika Srpska and the Federation of BiH) run counter to the General Framework (Dayton) Agreement for Peace in BiH. Russia, as the guarantor of Dayton, cannot agree with this logic.
Question: One of the formal reasons mentioned by Russia in the UN was the lack of support from the Security Council, which, in the opinion of other members, is not necessary, and the protest of the Russian Federation was rejected by 13 votes against 2. What legal grounds exist for the position of the Russian Federation ?
Answer: To answer this question, it is necessary to recreate the course of events in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Already the former VP V. Inzko, in a letter addressed to the UN Secretary General A. Guterres dated June 3, 2021, informed him about the “decision” adopted on May 27 by the RK SIC in Sarajevo to appoint K. Schmidt to the post of High Representative for BiH. Note that the aforementioned “decision” of the Steering Committee was taken despite the objections of the Russian Federation as a member state of the Committee and one of the guarantors of the Dayton Agreement. The principle of unanimity of the members of the international community, confirmed by more than a quarter-century of multilateral efforts to promote peace, stability and security in BiH, was grossly violated from the very beginning. The Sarajevo “solution” to an important international issue, adopted in such a flawed format, has no precedents for the entire time of multilateral efforts to promote a post-conflict settlement in BiH and cannot be regarded as an expression of the common opinion of the international community and the Bosnian parties themselves. Since the situation in BiH is under the supervision of the UN Security Council within the meaning of Chapter VII of the UN Charter, the Office of the High Representative should have referred the issue of appointing a new EaP to the UN Security Council.
The question of the appointment of K. Schmidt was repeatedly discussed by us with our partners in the RK PIC and in the UN Security Council. We proposed a compromise solution, however, following the results of the July 22, 2021 vote, the Russian-Chinese draft resolution approving K. Schmidt as High Representative did not receive support.
The reference to the opinion of the state-forming peoples of BiH on this issue and the role of the UN Security Council in Dayton (Appendix 10) give all grounds to conclude that these two factors should be of decisive importance in the process of approval of the EaP. In addition, it is impossible to ignore the fact that all high representatives have so far been appointed by the Steering Committee and approved by the UN Security Council by consensus both within BiH and in the international community. It is precisely this consent, formalized by the Security Council resolution or the reply letter of the Security Council President agreed by the members of the Council, that was the source of the international legal legitimacy of the EaP, which, according to its mandate, represents the entire international community, and not its individual members. Without the approval of the Security Council, such an appointee cannot fulfill his Dayton duties, does not have the necessary authority, but remains a private person. The decision of foreign ambassadors in Sarajevo cannot be the source of his powers. The Bosnian parties have every right to refuse to cooperate with him. This, in fact, did the Bosnian Serbs.
We would also like to remind you of the PACE conclusion 234 (2002) “On BiH’s application for membership in the Council of Europe”, taking into account which the country was admitted to this organization. According to paragraph 5 of the document, the candidacy of the High Representative is “appointed by the RK PIC and approved by the UN Security Council.” Thus, the arguments about the optional nature of the UN Security Council participation do not stand up to criticism: both the UN Charter and Appendix 10 to the Dayton Agreement, and the quarter-century practice of appointing High Representatives say the opposite.
Q: One of the conditions for abolishing WUAs is a joint national strategy on war crimes, from which BiH has moved further than before due to the recent law on accountability for denying genocide, which is fiercely contested by the Bosnian Serbs. Russia supports the Republika Srpska, which regularly challenges the war crimes of the 1990s. Please explain how you feel about this law.
Answer: To our great regret, the amendments to the Criminal Code of BiH imposed by V. Inzko, introducing criminal liability for the “denial” of crimes of certain categories, did not bring Bosnia and Herzegovina one iota closer to unity in such sensitive issues, but caused colossal damage to the processes of interethnic reconciliation and dialogue. The many years of efforts by the international community to build internal political understanding and form a unifying agenda have actually ended up at a dead end. V. Inzko not only rudely interfered in the internal affairs of a sovereign European state, but also violated the line approved by the Steering Committee to transfer full responsibility to the Bosnian authorities.
The Russian Federation, as a guarantor state of the Peace Agreement and a member of the Steering Committee, views the incident as an open attack on the sovereignty of Bosnia and Herzegovina, its constitutional order and the powers of the authorities. We are convinced that changes in legislation in a democratic and rule-of-law state, which, undoubtedly, is Bosnia and Herzegovina, are made through the established parliamentary procedure. Recall how long and with what difficulties the national war crimes strategy was adopted. Then, nevertheless, they did without an “external manager”.
We believe that by his illegitimate actions V. Inzko sought to cleanse the political space of Bosnia and Herzegovina from “inconvenient” politicians in order to reformat the country’s state structure contrary to the postulates of the Dayton Peace Agreement. The object of V. Incko’s attack is obvious – it is the entire Serbian people. Unfortunately, the Austrian did not learn a lesson from the exemplary situation in 2015, when an attempt to push through the UN Security Council a draft resolution, which blamed only one of the parties for the tragic events in BiH during the armed conflict, failed miserably.
We call for assessments of the events of the 1992-1995 conflict. it was not politicians who were engaged, but historians. The politicization of these issues creates additional interethnic tension and cannot contribute to the solution of the tasks of strengthening peace, stability and security in the Balkans.
We do not agree with the statement that the Republika Srpska, they say, “regularly challenges the war crimes of the 90s.” Recall that it was on the initiative of the authorities of the entity that international independent commissions were formed to investigate the deaths of Serbian victims in Sarajevo and representatives of all peoples in the Srebrenica region in 1992-1995, which completed their work in June 2021, submitting final reports. We recommend that you familiarize yourself with their content.
The incident with the arbitrariness of V. Inzko clearly confirms the justification of Russia’s consistent position in favor of curtailing the institution of external guardianship over BiH, which only creates problems and undermines peace and stability in the state.
Question: Republika Srpska is boycotting the work of the government in Sarajevo because of the law on responsibility for denying genocide. Could you please share your opinion on the viability of the current Bosnian state. How do you overall assess the success of the Dayton Process?
Answer: We fully understand the wave of popular indignation that has risen in Bosnia and Herzegovina, in particular in the Republika Srpska, as a result of the voluntaristic actions of the “external manager”. The responsibility for what happened and the further development of the situation lies entirely with V. Inzko and his instigators. We hope that the internal political crisis that caused the refusal of all Serbs, including the opposition, to participate in the work of the general Bosnian bodies, will be overcome. The best way out of the situation is to revoke the illegal decision of V.Intsko.
The international community has already fulfilled its tasks in BiH. The mentoring tone, teachings, instructions and curses on the part of its representatives with regard to the purely internal affairs of Bosnia and Herzegovina are unacceptable. We have repeatedly warned our international partners that indulging the arbitrariness of the High Representative cannot lead to anything good. They suggested focusing on how to liberate sovereign and independent Bosnia and Herzegovina from an external protectorate humiliating for its citizens, so that the Bosnian peoples would resolve all pressing issues independently.
Let us recall that almost 26 years ago, it was precisely the coordinated efforts of the international community that put an end to the tragic conflict in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the interethnic war that rocked the Balkans for more than three years and horrified all of Europe. The peace agreement, initialed in Dayton in November and then signed in Paris in December 1995, set new realities in the region. Bosnia and Herzegovina emerged as a community of three equal peoples, and its entities received broad powers in areas outside the competence of the central government.
The Dayton system of internal balance and stability in Bosnia and Herzegovina has stood the test of time, has proven its functionality, peace and security are effectively maintained in the country, all conditions have been created for dynamic socio-economic development. The scheme laid down in the peace agreement to take into account the interests of the three peoples and two entities through equal representation in government bodies and in decision-making at all levels has become a key element that ensured progress in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The country has become a responsible and respected member of the world community, a member of a number of multilateral organizations, and an important factor in regional affairs.
We are convinced that there is currently no alternative to the Dayton architecture of Bosnia and Herzegovina. There is a lot of speculation about its modernization, adaptation to someone’s standards, but they do not stand up to serious criticism. None of the concepts being promoted can provide that vital balance of the interests of the three peoples, vital for Bosnian conditions. The consequences of new experiments can be dire.
There are obvious difficulties in advancing the processes of interethnic reconciliation, sometimes we are witnessing bursts of tension, as has happened now. However, this does not mean that the Dayton rules no longer work. They just need to be performed as they are written in the agreement. To question the decentralized architecture of the state is to work against Dayton, stability and security.
The key to solving all intra-Bosnian problems lies in the plane of dialogue and mutual understanding of the three state-forming peoples, taking into account their mutual interests based on positive, unifying themes, with a gradual expansion of the range of joint tasks. Harmonization of relations within Bosnia and Herzegovina is possible only through the formation of an attractive platform that is comfortable for all of its citizens. We presume that all future decisions will be sustainable only if they become the product of mutually acceptable agreements between the Bosnian parties themselves. The future of Bosnia and Herzegovina lies in the hands of its peoples.
EDITOR’S NOTE: This article is a translation. Apologies should the grammar and / or sentence structure not be perfect.