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Department of Public Information . News and Media Division . New York

22 May 2007

Despite their differences over whether the United Nations Office of the High Representative should continue its overseeing role in Bosnia and Herzegovina, two high-ranking officials of that nation addressing a Headquarters press conference this afternoon agreed on the need for a European democratic model of government and for ensuring Bosnia and Herzegovina’s accession to the European Union.

Speaking on the fifteenth anniversary of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s membership in the United Nations, Nejosa Radmanović, Chairman of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina, said he hoped the nation could meet all conditions for European Union membership by year’s end and thus dissolve the international community’s role there.

“We’re looking forward to a future that will be agreed upon with the help of the international community, but not one where we take orders from them,” Mr. Radmanović said.

Haris Silajdžić, a member of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina, said the Office of the High Representative should remain until all sides could reach agreement on a peaceful and viable governing system on course for integration into Euro-Atlantic institutions and until all obstacles in the current system were diffused.

“I believe in full democracy, not ethnocracy,” Mr. Silajdžić said, stressing the merits of plurality and Bosnia and Herzegovina’s potential to become a democratic model of a multiethnic, multicultural society.

In February, the Steering Board of the Peace Implementation Council, the international body guiding the Bosnia and Herzegovina peace process, had concluded that the Office of the High Representative should aim to close on 30 June 2008 and allow the nation take full responsibility for its own affairs.

Bosnia and Herzegovina had excellent economic potential thanks to its bountiful human and natural resources, Mr. Silajdžić said. But annex 7 of the Dayton Peace Agreement governing the right of return of refugees and displaced persons had yet to be implemented. Few people had been able to go home, and those that had returned were not able to live a life of dignity. Basic human rights violations continued daily.

Mr. Silajdžić said he had reminded Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, during a meeting with him earlier in the day, of the United Nations “colossal mistakes” of imposing an arms embargo on Bosnia and Herzegovina, which had led to a large number of civilian deaths, and for allowing the genocide of Muslims at Srebrenica in 1995.

He said he was appalled by the silence in the international community and the media over the 26 February ruling of the International Court of Justice that officially labelled the 1995 killings in Bosnia and Herzegovina as genocide. Victims of massacres or genocide were an embarrassment to the international community and a reminder of past mistakes. He expressed hoped that, in this case, the victims would not be forgotten and that the Court’s verdict would not go unnoticed by the United Nations.

Responding to a reporter’s question about what the Bosnia and Herzegovina leaders expected from talks with officials in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday, Mr. Silajdžić stressed the need to maintain dialogue and to discuss the two differing views of the nation’s future. While he did not elaborate on the expected outcome, he said the United States Government would likely be interested in getting the sides to reach a middle ground.

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For information media • not an official record

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