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Public debate on The situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina

(New York, October 23, 2002)

Statement by Ambassador Alfonso Valdivieso, Permanent Representative of Colombia


I wish to thank Lord Ashdown for his detailed and clear presentation. I also wish to thank Mr. Klein for everything that he did during his mandate while carrying out his responsibilities. We all know his great skill, great energy and the effective way he has carried out his task.

Taking advantage of the remarks made by the rest of the members of the Council, I would like to refer to the issue of elections because in a way it is symptomatic that the elections could have been interpreted as a result that, at a certain moment, discredits the democratic processes. Everything seems to indicate that the risks of an extreme nationalism, especially in the situation we all know exists in the region of Bosnia and Herzegovina, are real. But even so, if the nationalist tendencies had clearly triumphed, I would say that it in itself cannot disqualify the democratic process, because democracy must work and must express itself. And if that is democratic expression, it is still an expression. The problem is what kind of signals does that send us? In what way does it alert the international community? And can that result be used to reflect on where the process originated and where it is going?

Let us not forget the Dayton agreements, which have been mentioned several times. They are now seven years old or more. They are agreements that in a way impose certain conditions which put an end to conflict. But those agreements should be able to guarantee the future that the international community wishes and which the inhabitants of Bosnia and Herzegovina deserve. If the agreements serve simply to put an end to the conflict, and might generate a future conflict, it is possible that such a conflict could be of even larger greater dimensions. That is why we have to be cautious in our analysis of a democratic expression of will. We cannot impose the sort of democracy that we want. We must aim for an expression of will in conditions compatible with the healthy wishes of the international community.

I would thus venture to ask Lord Ashdown a question about what he himself has called the need to speed up the reforms. For example, among the reforms that have been commented on, he has an idea to develop a new structure in the central Government - to create or to strengthen the central Government. He explicitly mentions it in the report (S/2002/1176). He has spoken of the creation of the position of a single Prime Minister. That would be the first time that such a post has existed since the end of the war seven years ago. It is even mentioned that two months have been granted for the Government of Bosnia and Herzegovina to decide whether it would create the position, based on the powers and responsibilities of the High Representative. How does the High Representative see this situation, if it is possible to hear some comments on that point? But he will understand that there is concern about what that political result could mean with respect to what can or cannot be done or what must or must not be done.

The important thing, I would say, is to link the electoral result to the future, as the High Representative explained in the report. For example, I was struck by the reference that he makes in paragraph 47 of the report to a "new beginning". The report then clarifies: "after these elections". In other words, these elections are a kind of point of departure. We need to relate this to the future, and we must bear in mind that the political results draw very clear attention to the theme of reform. Also, in a very general way, I would like to pick up on the emphasis the High Representative has placed on the rule of law and the establishment of reliable and efficient judicial processes. I feel bound to say that this is not just a priority for him, but his work has demonstrated it in fact. This is a very important point. The point has been made that justice must work, and that the Bosnia and Herzegovina authorities need to cooperate with the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. There is also a need for the judicial system, including the judges, prosecutors and investigators, to be capable of generating trust, and, above all, capable of producing effective results. Otherwise, we would have some bodies that are very highly qualified but ineffective, and this would give rise to greater frustration.

I would like to say that a lot of ground has been covered in this respect in Bosnia and Herzegovina. And, undoubtedly, we will see how cooperation with the international community can yield results. We have great hope that the evolution will be in this direction.


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