Lajcak: Role of Bosnia Envoy Should Stay

Sarajevo – Bosnia’s top international envoy says the role of the international community should be adjusted and the Office of the High Representative should remain in Bosnia for now.

“We should adjust the engagement of the international community with the situation and the needs of Bosnia and Herzegovina,” local media on Wednesday cited the head of the Office of the High Representative, OHR, Miroslav Lajcak as saying.

In an interview for Republika Srpska Television, RTRS, on the previous night, Lajcak said that despite Bosnia’s June 16 signing of the Stabilisation and Association Agreement with the European Union – which has been hailed as country’s first concrete step towards membership of the bloc – the country is not fulfilling its obligations and is falling behind the rest of the region.

After a two-year long political deadlock, the situation worsened with bellicose nationalist rhetoric ahead of the October 5 local elections.
Many local and international officials criticised the OHR for contributing to the crisis by doing nothing and avoiding to use its broad governing so-called “Bonn powers” to dismiss the most outspoken politicians.
In the interview for RTRS which was carried by all other local media, Lajcak refused to speculate whether he would use his powers to fire any local leaders. He also refused to say how this new international role in Bosnia should look like.
However, Lajcak said that after a series of meetings he had with the top United States and European leaders over the past month, the attention of the international community has been “brought back” to the situation in Bosnia.
“This is good for this country,” he said, adding that this ongoing debate should define the future international role in a way that “would allow progress and prevent this country from slipping from the right path.”
A key part of any “adjustment” of the international role is directly related to and reflected in the future of the OHR, which has been charged with supervising peace in post-war Bosnia.
The OHR was supposed to be closed by 2008 and some of its responsibilities and functions were planned to be merged with a stronger future EU mission in the country. Yet the prolonged political crisis forced western powers to keep the OHR in the country. Instead of a firm closing date, the west has set a list of conditions which, when fulfilled, would allow the final closure of the OHR.
The OHR’s role and eventual closing will be debated by top international powers in November. Yet Lajcak said that “the current status of politics in this country does not allow me to recommend closing of the role of the High Representative and abandoning of the Bonn powers.”

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