The Peace Implementation Council (PIC) Steering Board met in Sarajevo on June 17-18 to review the process of implementation of the General Framework Agreement for Peace, which “remains the basis for a stable, secure, and prosperous Bosnia and Herzegovina”.

The Communiqué issued after the meeting reads that the PIC Steering Board “welcomed the publication of the European Commission Opinion on Bosnia and Herzegovina’s EU membership application, recommending Bosnia and Herzegovina to fundamentally change and improve its legislative and institutional framework, and providing a comprehensive roadmap with key priorities on future reforms that would help lead the country to graduate from international supervision”.

The PIC SB deplored the fact that “irresponsible and divisive rhetoric and political actions have continued after the 2018 General Elections”, including “references to secession, advocacy for the division of the country into three territorial units and the announcement to challenge the name of the Republika Srpska”.

Such initiatives and statements have led to a severe fall in mutual trust and cooperation among the key stakeholders and have no support in the PIC Steering Board. Furthermore, they create a sense of instability which discourages foreign investors and hastens the exodus of citizens in search of safety and rule of law”, reads the statement.

The PIC SB encouraged the authorities throughout Bosnia and Herzegovina to align existing laws on public gathering with international standards. In particular, the PIC SB also deplored actions taken in the RS that further limit democratic freedoms, such as the right to free speech and peaceful assembly.

Additionally, “steps to create reserve police forces have resulted in a negative spiral of distrust in Bosnia and Herzegovina”. “Instead, authorities at the state, entity, and cantonal levels should work to improve law enforcement cooperation and ensure that existing police forces are adequately resourced and properly trained to address the range of challenges facing BiH and its citizens, including migration”, concludes the Communiqué.

The PIC Steering Board encouraged political and institutional leaders at relevant levels of authority to “demonstrate their declared commitment toward the country’s EU integration path by taking immediate and concrete action in fulfilling key priorities and reforms as identified in the EC’s Opinion in the fields of rule of law, fundamental rights, public administration reform, as well as democracy and functionality”.

The Russian Federation did not join this Communiqué, as they found it “biased and not reflecting the true state of things in Bosnia and Herzegovina”. Statement issued by the Russian Embassy to BiH reads that the Communiqué does not contribute to strengthening of reconciliation and constructive dialogue.

The Peace Implementation Council Steering Board will meet again on December 3-4, 2019.