OHR’s Statement at the International Agencies’ Joint Press Conference in Banja Luka

Representative/EU Special Representative in

The High Representative and EU Special Representative,
Christian Schwarz-Schilling, is in
today and

Today, he is giving a speech at the
10th Croatian Forum and meeting with Croatian President Stipe Mesic.

In his speech, which is entitled
Neighbourly Relations between Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, Mr
Schwarz-Schilling examines the challenges facing Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina
and Europe in Southeastern Europe, focusing on the ways in which Europe can and
must assist the entire region in building democracy.

Mr Schwarz-Schilling describes the role
he intends to play as EU Special Representative in taking forward constitutional
reform processes and in general assisting

Bosnia and Herzegovina

on its road towards the
European Union after the planned closure of the Office of the High
Representative at the end of June 2007.

The text of this speech will be made
available on both the OHR and the EUSR web sites in German this

Reconciliation Has to Be

Senior Deputy High Representative, Peter
Bas-Backer, will address a conference in

Belgrade tomorrow
on reconciliation and tolerance in

Europe. In
his remarks, Ambassador Bas-Backer will argue that reconciliation isn’t a luxury
but a necessity if citizens of war-torn countries are to escape the dangerous
consequences of endemic trauma. “Despite the popular, pernicious and almost
wholly wrong argument during the war that this is a region of ‘ancient ethnic
hatreds’, there is no reason why the western Balkans should be an exception” to
the human capacity to overcome trauma, Ambassador Bas-Backer will

“In order to make reconciliation
possible, however, we, but in particular local political civil society and
religious leaders, have to work on it actively and persistently.
have to work much harder then we did during the first decade of peace. 
Precious time was lost.  It can even be argued, in the case of BiH, that
the gulf separating its constituent peoples widened rather than closed after the
war. But it is still not too late – if we start now.

“There are two related illusions (or
delusions) that we need to be careful about.  The first is the belief that
reconciliation is ‘not all that important’ in the overall scheme of peace
implementation.  Hold elections, get the economy right, fix the
constitution and all will be well.  Alas, it doesn’t work that way, as we
have discovered to our cost elsewhere.  The other illusion is that
post-conflict reconciliation, given sufficient time, will happen miraculously by
itself. Let me emphasize again, however, that reconciliation and renewed trust
among national communities requires conscious commitment and hard work. 
The passage of time can help, but it can also freeze enmities as well as
traumas.  A buoyant economy can help as well, but it can also stimulate
intense conflict over the division of the spoils.  In short, there is no
indirect or automatic route to national reconciliation.  It must be
actively sought and struggled for if this or any other region is to enjoy
lasting peace and stability.”

The full text of Ambassador Bas-Backer’s
speech will be available on the OHR website tomorrow.