Briefing the Council on the conduct and the outcome of the October 7 general elections in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Inzko reported on divisive rhetoric during the pre-election campaign - including hate speech and voter intimidation - and complaints against alleged irregularities. He noted that “public trust in the integrity of the electoral system seems to be at an all-time low, and restoring this trust through meaningful improvements and transparency must be addressed by the new authorities as an urgent priority”.
“With the election results now published, the country needs the authorities to be formed as smoothly and as quickly as possible”, said Inzko; he warned, however, that “as no party has a clear majority, it is too soon to speculate on which coalitions will ultimately be formed at various levels of authority”.
The HR noted that Zeljko Komsic’s election victory “has led a number of officials from the HDZ BiH and from neighboring Croatia to declare the election illegitimate and even illegal or anti-Dayton, despite the fact that it was carried out according to the same rules used in every past election”.
“While some may have the political goal of wishing to change the current system, this cannot be used to deny the legality of a process conducted in line with the law and the Peace Agreement; nor can it be misused to justify future boycotts or blockages”, said Inzko.
The High Representative praised the fact that after several months of disagreement and with the assistance of the wider international community, the Parliamentary Assembly of Bosnia and Herzegovina has finally managed to adopt the amendments to the country’s Criminal Procedure Code.
Inzko emphasized the continued need for reconciliation and dialogue in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and noted that the reporting period had continued to see a tendency of denial or relativization of war crimes, and even the unacceptable glorification of war criminals.
“In this respect, having in mind the fact that two international tribunals have confirmed that genocide was committed in Srebrenica, I consider the repeal by the RS Government of its earlier 2004 report, which had officially acknowledged the involvement of the RS military and police forces in the July 1995 events, a significant step backwards for reconciliation”, said Inzko.
At the end of his address, the High Representative made a few recommendations “to be taken up by the incoming BiH authorities, but also to be supported and encouraged by the wider international community”.
“Firstly, measures need to be undertaken immediately to strengthen the Rule of Law. Secondly, official institutions need to be supported and strengthened in their functionality and independence, and also their stability. Thirdly, economic development needs be kick-started; and finally, these reforms need to be addressed with a sense of urgency due to the huge departure of young people from Bosnia and Herzegovina - about 20-30 thousand per year”, explained Inzko.
“Despite the absence of these issues from the campaign platforms of many of the leading parties, once they enter power, they will not be able to ignore them. Those who declare EU membership as their goal will need to find compromises, support the functionality of the institutions and accelerate the pace of reforms”, concluded the High Representative.