Remarks by the High Representative, Paddy Ashdown, at the Press Conference

We had a very good and constructive PIC, which was dedicated to primary
topics.  One was internal matters, and the PIC made a historic decision
which I will want to draw your attention to in the near future, and the other
was, the main topic was the issue of what we hope is only current turbulence in
the whole reform process – characterized of course by PBS, by police
restructuring and by the present instability in the Council of Ministers. 
However, the issues we discussed were:

  • First of all Srebrenica, where the PIC solemnly
    remembered the dead in Srebrenica, recommitted themselves to ensuring that
    whatever action needs to be taken in order to bring the perpetrators of this
    appalling crime and the perpetrators of all other crimes committed, war crimes
    committed in Bosnia and Herzegovina, to justice;
  • Reviewed the forthcoming tenth anniversary
    commemoration ceremony;
  • Expressed a warm welcome for the invitation sent to
    President Tadić inSerbia and
    Montenegro, and to
    President Čavić; and
  • Warmly welcomed also their statement of intent to
    attend the ceremony at Srebrenica;
  • Expressed the wish and hope that this ceremony would be carried out with
    the due solemnity and respect that is necessary for this important event, and
    towards those who are attending.  Once again

    Bosnia and

    will be on the television screens
    and in the attention of the world, and it’s an important moment for

The PIC also discussed the whole question of ICTY cooperation, noted with
regret, perhaps even deep regret I think is the phrase used by some, that
there appeared after having had significant progress on cooperating with the
ICTY – reflected in transfers of indictees to The Hague earlier this year – the
PIC noted with deep regret that there appeared to be a dead stop to that process
in recent weeks and months.  Now, recent events related to the Srebrenica
area, to RS MUP policemen and to recent actions by the RS MUP is a brighter
picture, but we note with regret in terms of transfer of Hague indictees to

The Hague

there has been no further
action in recent weeks and the PIC concluded with two statements on this.

The first is that this must continue, this process of cooperation with

The Hague

must now accelerate again,
and there will be serious consequences, we will have to return to serious
consequences for those responsible for this if that does not happen.  And
secondly, that this process was not completed and would not be regarded as
completed by the International Community until Karadžić and Mladić are
transferred to

The Hague

.  So,
we must now see acceleration, a continuation with extra momentum, of the process
of transferring Hague indictees to

The Hague

, and only concrete results will do.  The
alternative will be to return to the policy which we had before Christmas,
before the start of serious consequences in the event of failure.

The PIC also regretted the halt to the Feasibility Study reform process, in
particular in two areas.  The first was public broadcasting reform, a task
that must be completed, and the second was on police reform.  The PIC
called for the public broadcasting reform process to be completed as soon as
possible, and expressed deep regret that the RS had not been prepared to
continue with police reform.  It stated that this would act as a major
block, a fundamental block to any further progress towards

Europe, and that there would be serious consequences if
the RS were to continue to choose isolation over integration.  Not the
least of those would be that BiH would be left behind.

The PIC in particular identified that if now we could restart the process, if
we could conclude the process of PBS reform and restart the process of
negotiation for success of police reform, then BiH had a last chance to catch up
with the other countries in the Balkans on the road to

.  If we missed that chance then BiH would
remain out of the queue and left behind.

The PIC was also briefed in detail by the Prime Minister about the present
situation in the Council of Ministers; it heard the Prime Minister’s
determination to ensure that the Council of Ministers returns to work as soon as
possible.  And the PICcalled on the Prime Minister and all other parties
involved to resolve the issues outstanding in the Council of Ministers and get
the Council of Ministers back to work as soon as possible.

The PIC also discussed Defence reform, noted the progress that had been made
there and expressed the hope that that would continue.  And finally the PIC
received a detailed briefing on the progress of the War Crimes Chamber and noted
with satisfaction the successes that had been achieved there, and a detailed
brief from Ambassador Butler on the economic situation in BiH.

On the economic situation there were two conclusions.  First of all that
there are now really welcome signs, that following the early programme of
economic reforms the country’s economy is now growing.  Indeed it is
growing form a very low base, faster than for instance


, faster
than most of the other countries in the Balkans.  Exports are up 25 percent
from a very low base.  Manufacturing production in the Federation up 25
percent, about 9 percent in the RS.  Foreign direct investment coming into
the country up 25 percent.  The number of families living in poverty down
from 20 percent to around 16 percent.  Encouraging signs that the BiH
economy is now growing, albeit from a very low base and albeit, not yet at a
pace which could be considered sustainable.

However, to balance that good news there is bad news, which is the highly
critical state of government finances in BiH at the state level, but most
particularly at the Entity levels.  The question of the fiscal
sustainability of BiH’s government structures, that is their capacity to
continue to fund government activity and to pay for government employees, is now
a very serious problem indeed.  The deficits being run up now in the
Federation are of the order of 300 to 400 million KM annually, and in the RS
about half that.  What that means is that unless this issue is tackled very
soon then it seems very probable that before too long the governments of BiH,
particularly the Entity level, will be unable to pay some of their
employees.  This is a crisis of major proportions, but let me underline for
you – it is not a crisis of the BiH economy, which is generally speaking showing
signs of health – but a crisis of the affordability of BiH’s government.

And finally, arguably the most important decision made at the PIC – the PIC
also discussed at length and concluded on the future of OHR.  Now you will
recall when I came here I said that one of my aims was to ensure that we moved
towards a position where you would not any longer need a High
Representative.  The PIC has discussed this and I want to read out for you
the statement, because it’s an important one and I think it’s important that you
should hear it in full.

The Steering Board expressed it’s intention to continue with the process of
transferring responsibilities to the BiH authorities, which has already begun
and will continue at an accelerated pace.  The culmination of this process
will be to bring to an end the Office of the High Representative.  The
Steering Board expresses it’s readiness to do this and to recommend that the
position of the High Representative be replaced by a European Union Special
Representative.  This step must of course be endorsed by an UN Security
Council Resolution.

The end point of this process will be an important milestone in BiH’s
development, the point at which BiH takes it’s destiny into it’s own hands and
moves forward towards integration with the EU.  But, the PIC will want to
ensure that such a process of transition is tied to actual progress in
BiH.  So how soon the Steering Board will be in a position to initiate such
a process of transition will therefore depend entirely on the ability of BiH
authorities to put the country firmly on to the road to

Europe .  One clear indication to the Steering Board
that the BiH is indeed firmly on that road to

Europe will
be when it has qualified for negotiations on the Stabilization and Association
Agreement with the EU and taken the hard decisions that are still needed to
accomplish that.  The sooner that happens, the sooner that happens, the
sooner the PIC will be in a position to launch the process of phasing out the
Office of the High Representative and phasing in the Office of the European
Union Special Representative.

That’s an important and historic statement, let me just remind you what it
says.  First of all that the PIC will recommend, obviously it has to be
recommended to the European Union, that the OHR will in due course transfer to
an EUSR.  That has to be supported by a UN Security Council
Resolution.  That does not happen overnight, that will require a
process.  The process itself will take an element of time, quite a lot of
time to see that process through.  But, that process cannot begin until
certain conditions are fulfilled.  The chief of those is that BiH is in the
SAA process, the Stabilization and Association process.  So an important
PIC, perhaps in terms of some of the decisions, particularly that last one, an
historic PIC.

Your questions?



Journalist #1:

As far as I understood, at the PIC you also discussed the results achieved in
defence reform.  Did you take account of the fact that the federal
component of the defense sector, according to certain estimates, is in debt
around a billion KM?  Who will pay that?  How can that be

The High Representative, Paddy Ashdown:

That wasn’t discussed at the PIC.  That’s an issue for the defence
reform process.  Remember the PIC is dealing with broad issues here. 
The matter you referred to is a matter entirely for the Defence Reform
Commission and we will bring it to the attention of the PIC as and when they
think it important.

Journalist #2:

Two questions: You used rather harsh language in describing the demands
towards Republica Srpska.  Is there any deadline?  And the second
question is related to the PIC – what is the situation now in the Ministry for
Communications, the Dokić Ministry?  Who is the minister?  I mean the
situation is a bit unclear.

The High Representative, Paddy Ashdown:

Let me deal with the first of those.  The language I used has been
carefully chosen.  We must begin to see significant progress in the very
near future.  The tenth anniversary of Srebrenica is coming up.  We
expect to see progress starting immediately.  I’m not going to put a
deadline on this yet.  I may do subsequently, but I’m not going to
yet.  Immediately is the key phrase.

On the question of Dokić – Mr. Dokić came to see me yesterday.  I made
it clear to him that, while I greatly appreciated the step he had taken to
resign from the Ministry on indictment, that’s an important step which I greatly
welcome, in which the principle that ministers holding executive positions ought
to stand aside from those when they are indicted before the courts has become
not a High Rep’s imposed principle, but a principle now embedded within the
domestic authorities.  That was his decision and I welcome it.  His
court case, however, started yesterday – sorry, it was the day before yesterday
that I saw Mr. Dokić – his court case, however, started yesterday and I felt it
was improper for a minister holding an executive position to be appearing in
court.  That would undermine the principle on which he very properly and
commendably offered his resignation.  I told him that in my view the right
thing to do would be to step aside, formally to absent himself under Article 7
of the Council of Ministers law and to make it clear that he passed his duties
on to his deputy.  Minister Dokić confirmed yesterday that that indeed was
the step he was taking.  I have spoken to Mladen Ivanić today, the
president of his party, the president of the PDP, he has confirmed to me that
Minister Dokić has formally absented himself, that a letter will be written to
the Prime Minister today confirming that, under Article 7 of the Council of
Ministers law, that that letter will pass his duties on to his deputy and that
Minister Dokić will stay absented on holiday, on leave if you wish, until such
time as either his position is formally replaced or the court trial has
completed.  Now, I very much hope that that position will be filled
appropriately, legally and properly in the near future.  But the present
position in relation to Minister Dokić is that he is formally absent under
Article 7 of the Council of Ministers.  He is not therefore conducting his
duties and he has formally passed his duties on to his deputy.

Journalist #3:

Mr. Ashdown, would you please answer the following question: Can the Croatian
Democratic Community (HDZ) take part in the election process if their leader is
a man who was removed from his position as a member of the Presidency of Bosnia

and against whom court proceedings have been initiated?

The High Representative, Paddy Ashdown:

It’s a matter for the Election Commission.

Ruždija Adžović, Jutarnje Novine:

Mr. Ashdown, Ruždija Adžović, Jutarnje Novine – We have forgotten that the
position of a Special EU Representative already exists in

Bosnia and Herzegovina

, but it seems that you are holding
that position?  Does that mean that you will just continue to do so? 
I mean, if that position already exists?

The High Representative, Paddy Ashdown:

If you remember I am HR and EUSR.  It is as HR that I have the


powers, but I’m
double-hatted.  So the decision taken by the PIC today is that when the
conditions have been fulfilled the Office of the High Representative will
vanish.  That hat will no longer be there.  This will not any longer
be known as the Office of the High Representative.  The person who holds my
job will then be only an EU Special Representative and this will be known, I
suppose, as the Office of the EU Special Representative.  So that element
you see behind me I guess, of OHR, will cease to exist.  Of course that has
consequences needless to say and that’s why it has to be agreed by UN Security
Council Resolution.

Mirza Ćubura, Nezavisne Novine:

You said that you had talked with Minister Mladen Ivanić about the destiny of
Minister Dokić, but did you also talk to him about his own position in the
Council of Ministers and does this announcement from the PIC mean that…

The High Representative, Paddy Ashdown:

No, that’s a matter for the domestic authorities, not me.

Mirza Ćubura, Nezavisne Novine:

Does this announcement from the PIC mean that the beginning of the
negotiations on the Stabilization and Association Agreement will also be the
beginning of the liquidation of the OHR?

The High Representative, Paddy Ashdown:

What the PIC has said, and the words are very clear, is that certain
conditions have to be fulfilled.  The BiH politicians must take more
responsibility for their own actions.  We want to see some of these key
reforms completed.  There is the OHR’s Mission Implementation Plan, it’s a
public document.  You can see what we have achieved.  That plan must
be substantially finished.  So, there are a number of conditions.  But
the chief condition and the crucial condition is that the SAA, that BiH has
crossed the threshold, into the SAA process.  Now please, particularly will
you notice the word: a process.  When the PIC determines that the right
conditions are in place, the chief of those is the agreement to commence the SAA
process, that won’t happen overnight.  There will be a process involving
some time for this transition to take place.  But yes, the SAA is, if you
would like to say the key condition, but it’s not the only condition. 
There are other conditions as well, including the transfer of authorities to the
BiH politicians, the BIH politicians themselves showing more responsibility in
taking up those authorities, and other issues that are of a more minor nature,
like the Mission Implementation Plan of OHR. 

Dušan Saraković, Večernje Novosti:

I am interested in your comment on the police action at Bratunac?

The High Representative, Paddy Ashdown:

Dušan, I can’t comment on that.  It’s a matter for the prosecutor. 
You understand why.  These are legal matters and until we have had some
formal statement from the prosecutors it would be improper for me to comment,
except to say that I think this is potentially a big event and we must wait to
see how things play out.  Any others?

Mirela Čosić, BHT1:

Yesterday you criticized the Presidency in view of the fact that they are not
acting in accordance with the findings of the audit.  Will you take any
action in that regard or do you believe that the Presidency will comply with
your requirements bearing in mind the payment Mr. Čović received after you
removed him?

The High Representative, Paddy Ashdown:

The question of whether they complied with the audit requirements is not a
matter for me.  It’s a matter for the domestic authorities in a
democracy.  The question of whether they comply with the


instruction is a matter for
me, and I can assure you they will. 

Daily newspaper SAN:

Can you tell me what will happen if no agreement is reached in Doboj
today?  What is the future of the State government and has there been any
talk about your successor?

The High Representative, Paddy Ashdown:

No, that’s a matter for the State government, not me.  And there was no
talk about my successor.

Journalist #4:

Talking about the SAA I have some incomplete information.  Are you going
to stay here as long as


the SAA process or including the extension of the mandate, indefinitely?

The High Representative, Paddy Ashdown:

I have said when I am leaving and the rest is speculation.

Journalist #5:

Mr. Ashdown, did you talk about deadlines today?  Will BiH sign the
Agreement by the end of this year?  And, will you continue to hold only one
of your current two positions?

The High Representative, Paddy Ashdown:

BiH can sign the document tomorrow if it completes the reforms
necessary.  But it won’t ever sign the document, ever, if it doesn’t
complete the reforms that are necessary.  And let me tell you in the new
climate of Europe, one of the features that appeared in this PIC was indeed that
several member states made it very clear that these conditions had to be
fulfilled in full and that there weren’t going to be compromises on these
issues.  So when BiH enters the Stabilization and Association process is
entirely a matter for BiH and the BiH politicians.  The faster they do it
the faster they cross the threshold, the longer they take the later they cross
the threshold. 

I’m not going to give any more comments about my continuing position here, as
the position on that is very clear.  Whatever else you read is pure

Okay.  Thanks very much.