Šefik Džaferović, the Bosnia and Herzegovina Head of State, used his address to the General Debate of the General Assembly on Wednesday to praise the European Union’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the help it has given to non-EU countries, such as his own.
With help from our friends
In a pre-recorded video address, Mr. Džaferović thanked those who came to the aid of Bosnia and Herzegovina during the crisis, and expressed his appreciation for the EU’s decision to include the country in its public procurement programme, which means that it has been able to purchase material needed to combat COVID-19, such as personal protective equipment (PPE) in a cost-effective way.
“Just like any other great misfortune”, he said “this one has also reminded us how important it is to have friends.” At a time when multilateralism and international organizations, including the UN, are coming under attack, the pandemic, he added, has shown that major challenges can only be tackled at a transnational, multilateral level, based on dialogue and cooperation of as many states as possible.
The unity shown by the European Union in agreeing a historic package for economic recovery, declared the Bosnian leader, is an example to the rest of the world. The fact that the EU has not just supported its members, but other countries as well, is a sign of its strength. Bosnia and Herzegovina, he added, has benefited from strong support for its economy and health system, which increases the prospects for continued stability in the country.
25 years of peace
The end of 2020 marks 25 years of the signing of the Dayton Peace Accord, which ended the brutal conflict in the former Yugoslavia but, said Mr. Džaferović, the Accord now requires an update.
This will only be possible, he said, through a wide political consensus, adding that there is a consensus in the country about the “irreplaceable significance of preserving peace and, thus, the Peace Accord on which it is based”.
Mr. Džaferović described the country as having made a “complete turn”, from being one that required international assistance, to providing soldiers and police officers to take part in peace missions around the world.
Illegal migration support needed
However, he said that more support is needed to help Bosnia to cope with illegal migration: due to the closure of other routes, most migrants attempting to enter the EU are now passing through Bosnia and Herzegovina. “They pose an enormous security and humanitarian problem, and our county does not have enough resources to solve it.”
The Bosnian leader called on nations whose citizens are in Bosnia and Herzegovina to sign up to agreements that will enable these citizens to be returned to their home countries.
Building a stable society
The emigration of young, and educated, Bosnians to the EU, where they have greater job prospects, is also a problem for the country, according to Mr. Džaferović, who said that this can only be overcome by building a “a society which will be based on the principles of equal opportunities, political stability and legal security, where it is possible for young people to plan their future”. Eventually achieving EU membership, he said, is the way to achieve this goal.
Bosnia and Herzegovina, concluded Mr. Džaferović, is slowly making progress, and is committed to building a safe, stable and prosperous State.
Full statement available here.