BiH still faces challenges to stability and progress

 BiH has made progress in its EU integration process but the country still faces fundamental challenges to its sustainable stability and progress, High Representative Valentin Inzko told the UN Security Council while presenting his regular report that covers the period Oct 22, 2016-Apr 21, 2017. Among the positive developments he mentioned the fact that the BiH authorities received the EU questionnaire, completed the adaptation of the Stabilisation and Association Agreement and adopted the so-called Defence Review of military forces. At the same time, with regard to the challenges the country faces he pointed out at the controversy over the attempt to seek revision of the 2007 judgment of the International Court of Justice in the BiH vs. Serbia genocide case and the activities of the RS authorities to implement an unconstitutional referendum by adopting the Law on the RS Day and by observing the 'RS Day' holiday on Jan 9, he said.

The High Representative noted that the secession rhetoric coming from RS authorities, mainly RS President Milorad Dodik, has lessened since the imposition of the US sanctions against him. Nevertheless, statements to this effect have been made during the reporting period and the possibility of a referendum on independence remains on the party platform of the SNSD, the ruling party in the RS, the report reads. Inzko also mentioned that Croat leaders continue to advocate for the reorganisation of the country along with ethnic lines into three to four 'federal units', one of which would have a Croat majority.

He deplored the fact that BiH authorities appear unable to act even in their own self-interest in a win-win situation, for instance in addressing the commitments made under the Extended Fund Facility arrangement with the IMF. The failure to meet the IMF deadline to allow for the completion of the first quarterly review and release the second tranche of funds will additionally increase fiscal pressures on the country, Inzko noted.

With the 2018 general elections approaching, the High Representative voiced expectation that political discussions in BiH will now most likely focus on amendments to the BiH Election Law. He noted that so far there was no consensus on the issue, which could create a new political stalemate in the country. Inzko encouraged the authorities to make the most of the upcoming period and demonstrate that they can look past divisive issues and deliver meaningful reforms which will improve the economic situation in the entities and throughout the country. He underlined that this list should include economic reforms demanded by the international creditors and the EU-related issues so that BiH could get EU candidate status.

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