Brussels, 17 October 2006
Mr Solana and Mr Rehn were mandated by the Council on 15 May 2006, to begin consultations with the Peace Implementation Council (PIC) Steering Board, EUSR/HR Dr Schwarz-Schilling, the authorities in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and other key stakeholders on a reinforced EU engagement in Bosnia and Herzegovina in the context of the envisaged closure of the Office of the High Representative (OHR) on 30 June 2007.
Mr Solana and Mr Rehn presented a joint report to the Council today on this issue, in consultation with the Presidency. The report offered recommendations for the Council's consideration and set out possible timelines for further work. The report formed part of an ongoing consultation process.
The report noted that the decision to close the OHR remained subject to review and confirmation by the PIC Steering Board in early 2007, taking into account the overall situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) and the region. Mr Solana and Mr Rehn noted that Bosnia and Herzegovina had made significant progress in past years, however, and that the goal should remain to transfer full responsibility to its elected leaders by end-June 2007, if possible. Only threats to the country's peace and stability ought to change that timeline.
Extracts from the report:
EU Political Objectives
Although political uncertainties persist, the envisaged closure of the OHR is a mark of how far the overall situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina has improved over the past 11 years, and of the country's readiness to assume ownership and accountability. A change in approach on our part is therefore called for.
A reinforced EUSR office would constitute an important part of the EU's comprehensive engagement after OHR. This EUSR office should be different from the OHR in mandate, size and overall approach.
The revised EUSR mandate should continue to concentrate on political and security-related issues, including residual responsibilities of the Dayton/Paris Peace Agreement. The EUSR should offer political advice and facilitate political and legal processes, in particular with respect to constitutional reform.
In addition, the EUSR should play a role in promoting the Rule of Law, in particular with respect to police restructuring; support to the fight against organised crime; and promoting full co-operation with the ICTY.
A reinforced EU engagement in the context of the closure of the OHR offers a unique opportunity to rationalise structures and achieve greater unity of effort.
The option of co-locating the EUSR offices and the EC Delegation in Sarajevo is already being explored.
Maintaining the IC Coalition
The Peace Implementation Council Steering Board has played a central role in co-ordinating the international community's efforts in BiH since the war. The Board of Principals (BoP) remains an important co-ordination forum as well. Maintaining this IC coalition would be extremely valuable.
Discussions with our PIC and BoP partners should continue in coming months with a view to arriving at practical arrangements on the ground.