Statement by Christian Schwarz-Schilling, the High Representative for BiH at the Press Conference on Eve of Election Campaign

Thank you all for coming here today on the eve of what is an important
election campaign.

It is important because the leaders and parties who are
elected on 1 October will have to take responsibility for the future of this
country and to lead it towards
after the
closure of the Office of the High Representative.

Tomorrow is both the first day of the official election campaign and exactly
100 days since I spoke to the Parliamentary Assembly of Bosnia and

On that occasion, I urged Parliamentarians to seize the moment, to view the
100 days in front of them as an opportunity and to demonstrate both to voters
and to the international community that they were capable of taking decisions in
the interest of all citizens of Bosnia
and Herzegovina

I also highlighted a number of laws, measures and reforms that would both
help improve the lives of citizens and ease
Bosnia and

’s path towards European

These included the Higher Education Law, the Law on Obligations, the Salary
Law, the creation of a Central Banking Supervision system, the Law on National
Fiscal Council and the Pharmaceuticals Law.

The agenda was ambitious. But given
Bosnia and Herzegovina

’s circumstances and needs, it was
realistic and, above all, necessary.

As a former parliamentarian, I believe passionately in the importance of
parliament as the pinnacle of a democracy. Moreover, the way it works is
indicative of the wider health of a society.

I made it clear on my very first day as High Representative and EU Special
Representative in
Bosnia and Herzegovina

that I am here to oversee a
transition to local ownership of the peace process.

I have no intention of taking decisions for those who do not have the courage
to take them themselves and I will not intervene to impose legislation every
time local authorities fail to live up to their responsibilities.

I am here to assist, advise and advocate. However, in my speech to
parliament, I pointed out that that I would not stand quietly and watch the
darker side of political life, that clearly exists in this country, take

Specifically, I made clear that I would speak out where important obligations
are not being fulfilled and where higher standards need to be met. And I
promised to expose those who have failed to take on their responsibilities or
acted without integrity.

Of the legislative agenda that I set out in my speech to parliament, not one
law has been adopted. Indeed, the only matter I specifically referred to that
has been resolved in the intervening period is that of changes to the Criminal
Procedure Code necessary to ensure the successful transfer of cases from the
International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in The Hague.

There are a variety of reasons for the legislative failure, some valid,
others less so.

As soon as I finished my speech to parliament and for unrelated reasons, the
Serb delegates walked out and boycotted parliament for close to four weeks,
blocking completely the legislative process.

In addition to the boycott, the legislative progress has been slowed by
electioneering in the run-up to October’s vote.

However, these reasons alone do not explain away the legislative record of
this parliament during the past 100 days.

You are no doubt wondering whom I hold responsible for the legislative
failures of this parliament. While the situation differs from law to law, it is
clear that the governing parties have primary responsibility. If you wish,
therefore, I can name the parties and governments that are currently blocking
each law.

The laws that I highlighted in my speech to parliament were fundamental to
the well-being of all citizens of this country, irrespective of their ethnic
identity and party affiliations.

The Higher Education Law, for example, is about improving opportunity for all
young people in this country, harmonising standards for courses and examinations
across all universities, and helping these young people to study elsewhere in

This law and all others that this parliament has failed to adopt are
desperately needed and still pending. Any delay now means a delay of many months
because parliaments must be re-constituted, new governments formed and a new set
of parliamentarians will have to examine each piece of legislation again.

It is, however, still possible for this parliament to improve its legislative
record. I therefore wrote to the Collegiums of both Houses of the State
Parliamentary Assembly yesterday inviting the speakers and their deputies to
talks in my office next week to arrange extraordinary sessions of the parliament
in September.

I believe that by making such a move parliamentarians would be able to pass
one or two of the outstanding laws. In particular, I strongly believe that the
Pharmaceuticals Law can and should be adopted.

In the process they would also help improve the reputation of their
institution in the eyes of both voters in this country and observers abroad, in
particular in Brussels.

The reputation of parliament matters greatly in every democracy as does the
conduct of politicians.

Political leaders have a duty to behave responsibly in both word and deed.
Even in the run-up to an election, they must strike a balance between short-term
appeals to voters and the long-term interests of the country.

This country’s parliamentarians must now rise to the occasion and demonstrate
that they are leaders and healers capable of taking Bosnia and Herzegovina from
peace implementation to Euro-Atlantic integration.

This is the only way to join the European mainstream, which is clearly where
the electorate wants to be.

Thank you for your time.


Journalist #1:

This is not really a question, it is a comment. Just about all of the parties
you have listed are preventing some kind of law. I was just wondering who we are
going to vote for?

Christian Schwarz-Schilling, the High Representative and EUSR for

I can give you each blocking party for each law here. But, you know it in the
same way, you are visiting the Parliament, you are seeing it, you are saying –
but that must be made. Also in the media everybody knows who is responsible for

Journalist #1:

What I am trying to say is that it is up to the voters to change this
situation, because obviously this is why you are saying this and why we are
here. Now, from the perspective of the voter, if you look through this list and
think I do not want to vote anymore for these people who are blocking these
important laws, and once you go through the list of all these parties you will
discover that these are all the parties that there are. There is nobody to vote
for. Is it or are there some that are more responsible and others that are

Christian Schwarz-Schilling, the High Representative and EUSR for

Well, I think so.

Journalist #1:

Yes there are. Okay. Good.

Christian Schwarz-Schilling, the High Representative and EUSR for

But, this differentiation must be made by the voter and not by me.

Journalist #2:

As you said, the country seems to be very blocked. Do you think the situation
could change after the elections?

Christian Schwarz-Schilling, the High Representative and EUSR for

Well, if there is democracy here, the free will of the people can react to
the situation. That is just the difference to a dictatorship. And that is a
wonderful thing that mankind has invented – to choose the instruments to change
situations without bloodshed, wars or fights. That is what democracy is about.
It is only to be used. The International Community took the opportunity to give
this country these possibilities. Now they must be adopted and used. That is

Journalist #3:

Could you tell us if you answered Mr. Terzić, Chairman of the BiH Council of
Ministers concerning his questions on the privatisation of the BH telecom?

Christian Schwarz-Schilling, the High Representative and EUSR for

Yes. Yes, I have answered him.

Journalist #1:

Because of the situation you have just described, how
concerned are you about OHR’s plans to close down next year, and transfer –
actually you are not going to transfer the


authorities to anyone, right?
How concerned are you that the politicians, or anybody here, locally, are going
to be able to take responsibility for the country?

Christian Schwarz-Schilling, the High Representative and EUSR for

You know, we had a very serious discussion at the

PIC conference where we have taken the
decision to close down the OHR on the 30th of June, and because of this
discussion there are some paragraphs in the Decision providing for a final
assesment for reassuring or reviewing the situation in this country with regards
to the closure of the OHR. I think we all intentionally decided this as a
summary of the discussion, because we have seen that there could be a danger
that this country has not really accepted the ownership necessary for this

I must admit to you that the concerns are not less today than they were at
the time we made this decision. So, we have to asses the situation in February,
then we will see how goodthe voters judgement was and we will assess the process
of forming the new government; the reforms process; the work of the coalitions,
supporting the government with the majority of the parliaments; the start of the
new constitutional talks – about the constitutional reform; the situation with
police reform; and the situation with other laws. All of this will be the
criteria used to make the  final judgement in February. I think this will
take place at the end of February.

Of course, this means there are two very crucial alternatives. The first
alternative is that we have to be courageous and we have to believe in this
country and make the assurance of closure. The second alternative is that we
will have to delay the whole situation with the transition, which means that
Bosnia and Herzegovina goes more and more to the back of the train for this
region of the West Balkans, going to the end of the line for integration into
the European Union – and that could be a very bad situation for this country.
So, the International Community is not in an easy situation and we accept this
responsibility, but we hope that our decision can be based on a clear


My question is related to what you just said about the European Union and


. Bearing
in mind that all these laws are delayed and that elections are comming and the
new government, parliaments and everything have to be formed, do you really
think that the
can be signed this year or
in the beginning of next year, and what are the realistic chances for


to start
negotiations with the European Union?

Christian Schwarz-Schilling, the High Representative and EUSR for

Well, you know that I said that I am always, in critical times also, an
optimist. If I was not an optimist, I do not think I would be here today. You
need quite a lot of passion and optimism, but also a huge amount of realism to
come out with good things. So, I cannot say that I do not believe that, I think
perhaps only after the elections, a new effort will be made to complete the
police reform. I believe that even if the

negotiations between the European Commission and the government here are
successfully finalised, a signature will be given by the European Commission
only if the preconditions, one of which was police reform, are fulfilled. So,
that is now up to the ones who are responsible here – the politicians – whether
they want the signature or not.

There were some strange formulations about how “we have lived without

Europe for the last ten years, so we can also live

Europe for the next ten years”. To that I will
say – that is not true, because in the last ten years only the International
Community has given peace to this country. So, without the International
Community and

Europe there would not be peace here.
Secondly, if Europe is not present here in the next ten years I would not be too
optimistic that that would be as a result of what the majority of voters want,
really, because the integration of this whole region into Europe is one of the
main interests of the people – because this is influencing their standards of
living, their behaviour, their possibility to make trips to Europe, to exchange
opinions and to have a future for the next generation. I think that those who
are saying that this is not so important do not see the history, do not see the
situation today, as they do not look at the future of the next generation.


Do you not think that the Bosnia created as the result of the Dayton
Agreement is over now, and that Bosnia now has to think about a new constitution
and maybe to be more united and not separated, at least in two parts – Republika
Srpska and the Federation?

Christian Schwarz-Schilling, the High Representative and EUSR for

I exactly agree with your statement.


Question not recorded.

Christian Schwarz-Schilling, the High Representative and EUSR for

This is a contradiction. You are saying don’t you think this is a situation
they have to change. I cannot change a country. I can advise, convince and
sometimes I have to intervene. But, I cannot make the whole mentality change,
coming from an ethnic perspective going to the rights of citizens, as it is in a
legal state and as it is in democracies all over the world. There are problems
with ethnic things and of course, we can see that there is difficulty here
because the war was not a long time ago. It is living in each family. So, we
have to have patience.

But, the train of history is not waiting for

Bosnia and Herzegovina

. Decisions are made and

Europe is on the front to make decisions. The United
States of America are making decisions. They have priorities too. We cannot stay
here giving money, billions for the military and other things, just sitting here
waiting to see if you are ready now or if you need another ten or twenty years.
That is not the reality and you must be aware of that here in this country and
each voter has to be aware of that – that times is not in surplus here, you
cannot think that if you do not do it now, then perhaps you can in ten, twenty
or thirty years time. History is not a lap that you can make, it is not an
experiment, so you cannot say – okay, we will make the next lap, we will make
the next experiment. History is making decisions for a better future, or losing
the possibility of a better future – and this is final and binding. History is
not accepting any excuses.  History is, as Gorbachev said, “if you come too
late, it is too late.”

So, I only hope that will be seen in time and on the other side, that the
International Community has the necessary patience, analysing the very difficult
situation of a war that ended just ten or twelve years ago and which of course,
cannot be cured in such a very short time. So, the whole mentality is still
including these situations. So we have to recognise that. But, the people here
have to recognise that they do not have as much time as many politicians claim
they do.

Journalist #4:

I have two questions. What will be in Mostar after the 15th of

Christian Schwarz-Schilling, the High Representative and EUSR for

Well, I made it very clear in my statement what I expect at the first point.
They have two alternatives: to come to an agreement on the prioritised topics,
the three priority issues I mentioned by that time; or there will be a formal
request from the City Council to the OHR for arbitration, and I am prepared to
do that then – but my decision will be final and binding and the time of just
talking and mediating will be over. If neither happens I will announce other
measures that I will, as High Representative, then take.

Journalist #4:

My second question is what will you do against people who are everyday
talking about a referendum for Republica Srpska? The SNSD says that they do not
want to do this, but everyday we hear the same words from Republica Srpska and
from Dodik, threatening people here with a referendum.

Christian Schwarz-Schilling, the High Representative and EUSR for

Well, I made it very clear privately in talks, and also publicly, that such
talk has no realistic base. It will never happen. The longer they are talking
about it, the more they are going on an illusion and not the realistic
possibilities of this country. The International Community will never permit
this, because that was part of the peace agreement of this country. One thing is
clear and that is that those parties or leaders talking about the simple
abolishment of the entities are wrong, the same way as the idea of holding a
referendum to come to another status is wrong. They should study the Dayton
Peace Agreement better, study the legal situation a bit better and they should
concentrate more on how to cooperate and come to a better constitutional
functionality of the situation created by the Dayton Peace Agreement.

The Dayton Peace Agreement did not create an ideal constitution, because
there were realities from all sides and that has to be accepted, otherwise there
would not be peace here. But, we have to use this phase to create more
functionalities for a legal state and the legal rights of each citizen,
regardless in what entity or in what group of ethnics they are living in a
majority situation, or in a minority situation, different in any of the entities
or cities or cantons.

So, this has to be done in order for a legal state to develop. This is of
course, a very huge task and we have to do it. But, those talks about a
referendum or similar are only taking away the attention from the real work the
politicians have to do. What they are saying is not in accordance with the Peace
Implementation Council, it is not in accordance with the neighbouring states and
they should concentrate more on developing a peaceful region here, in consent
with all other nations, instead of speaking about their stomach or brain pains
or whatever else. They should concentrate and take responsibility.


I have a personal question for you. Will you stay for sure in

Bosnia and Herzegovina

regardless of whether the OHR will
close in the middle of next year or not?   

Christian Schwarz-Schilling, the High Representative and EUSR for

Perhaps you have already forgotten that I am already, now, the European Union
Special Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina and with this date, so on the
1st of July, I get an even far more important mandate then I have
today. So, there is no reason for me to change my mind.

Thank you very much for coming. I hope you can see that this is a very
historical moment and I hope the media are helping a little bit, like I am, in
the best interest of the voters.