Statement by H.E. Ambassador Ertuğrul Apakan, Permanent Representative of the Mission of Turkey to the United Nations, at the UNSC Meeting on the Situation in Bosnia-Herzegovina

Ertuğrul Apakan 23.11.2009
Let me begin by welcoming Mr. Spiric, Chair of the Council of Ministers of Bosnia Herzegovina. I would also like to sincerely congratulate him on the election of his country as a non-permanent member to the Security Council. This election is an indicator of the trust of the international community in his country. It will be a pleasure for us to serve together on the Council next year.

We are also happy to see Mr. Inzko among us once again. I want to thank him for his leadership, as well as his report and for his introductory remarks today.

Mr. President,

Turkey considers itself historically a part of the Balkans. In that respect, a sovereign, democratic and stable Bosnia Herzegovina is important to us. Developments in this country occupy a distinct place on our foreign policy agenda. We continue to make every effort to keep BH on the right track as evidenced by our Foreign minister's recent visit.

Mr. President,

We are glad to see that, since the conflicts of the 1990s, Bosnia Herzegovina has made great progress. We firmly support the aspirations of the peoples of this country to fully integrate with the Euro-Atlantic institutions (including through Membership Action Plan of NATO) and hope that these institutions will be forthcoming in embracing Bosnia Herzegovina. We believe that this integration will eliminate any feelings of exclusion, instill confidence in the peoples of Bosnia Herzegovina and ensure its future as a strong, stable, secure and whole European country.

Having said this, we cannot help but agree with the analysis presented by Mr. Inzko on the current situation in Bosnia Herzegovina. The country is at a critical point. While the international community anticipates ever more steadfast and ambitious steps towards consolidation of an effective, stable and viable state as foreseen in Dayton Peace Accords, what is offered is, to paraphrase the High Representative, nationalist, anti-Dayton rhetoric and actions that challenge the sovereignty and constitutional order of Bosnia and Herzegovina. What we want to see is a common vision and joint action, not pursuit of narrow ethnic interests. Under these circumstances, the international community is also faced with serious challenges. Unless we tackle these in a prudent manner, we might be faced with more serious problems in the Balkans.

Mr. President,

Turkey is a member of the Peace Implementation Council Steering Board and thus feels a special responsibility towards Bosnia Herzegovina. It has been almost two years since PIC Steering Board set five objectives and two conditions for the transition from the Office of the High Representative to the EU Special Representative. While there has been important progress on some issues, there are important outstanding problems, the overall process is quite slow and in certain instances, there have been steps back. It is this situation that is keeping the PIC Steering Board from concluding that its requirements have been satisfactorily fulfilled.

Let me emphasize once again that we do not want the OHR to remain in Bosnia Herzegovina forever. We want Bosnia to take ownership of its own future and pursue the aspirations of its peoples to become a part of the Euro-Atlantic structures as soon as possible. However, it will not be possible to proceed on OHR transition before those objectives and conditions have been met in their entirety. There are recently again some moves forward. But we would like to be convinced that these are not tactical but real and concrete, based on sincere and serious political will.

In this context, let me also underline that we are firm in our support for the High Representative. We ask him to continue his efforts. We expect him to make the decisions that he sees fit and to use the powers granted to him as needed to enforce those decisions. We do not agree that the actions of the High Representative and the OHR personnel are unlawful. Such challenges are certainly not helpful in the international community's deliberations on transition of OHR.

Mr. President,

Turkey welcomes and supports the discussions on constitutional reform process initiated by the EU and the US. We know this process is not easy. The reform package has not been embraced by all of the founding leaders. We hope that the political leaders will seriously engage in those efforts, show commitment and flexibility and eventually agree on a workable package that ensures a functional state structure. It is natural that each of them should have different expectations from this process. The important thing is to be able to reach a compromise that addresses some vital issues and increases the state's capability to govern. In that regard, we share the opinion of the European Commission, as also pointed out by the High Representative, that the problem of blockages due to abuse of entity voting rules need to be addressed, and that a stricter definition of the vital national clause in the Constitution is necessary.

It is true that constitutional reform is not a part of the 5+2 requirements. At the same time, the second condition for the closure of the OHR is for PIC Steering Board to make a positive assessment on the situation in Bosnia Herzegovina. We believe that success with regard to constitutional reform will help decrease political tensions and lead to a general normalization of the political climate. Therefore, one cannot deny that any progress in the reform process will have positive repercussions on the evaluations of whether 5+2 requirements have been fulfilled. We are also of the opinion that it would be best to act prudently to consider implementation of constitutional reform in parallel to the transformation of the OHR and not to act in haste in order to prevent possible administrative gaps.

Mr. President,

Let me repeat that Turkey fully supports the integration of Bosnia Herzegovina into relevant Euro-Atlantic integrations. We also support and appreciate the efforts of the EU to assist this country take its rightful place in the European family of nations, and provide stability through its Police Mission and also through Operation Althea. We believe that EUFOR Althea is an important part of EU's comprehensive efforts in Bosnia Herzegovina, and encourage the EU to keep a military presence in the country as long as necessary.

Being fully committed to peace and stability in Bosnia Herzegovina, Turkey contributes actively to both EU missions. Turkey also remains ready to assist the peoples of Bosnia Herzegovina in any way it can in achieving their aspirations.

Thank you.