The Peace Implementation Council (PIC) in Bosnia and Herzegovina on Wednesday warned the Serb entity of Republika Srpska that the country's entities did not have the right to secede and called for the continuation of reforms and fulfillment of EU membership conditions as well as for integration with NATO, a conclusion that was opposed by PIC member Russia.
After a two-day meeting in Sarajevo, political directors from the administrations of the United States, the EU, Japan, Russia and Turkey said that Bosnia and Herzegovina's entities did not have the right to secede and that their legal existence was based solely on the Constitution of Bosnia and Herzegovina, an allusion to the Serb entity government's challenging of Bosnia and Herzegovina's statehood.
PIC, an international political body that oversees the implementation of a 1995 peace agreement in the country, called for implementing socio-economic reforms and reforms related to the rule of law, judiciary and public administration for the sake of the country's progress on the path to EU membership.
PIC's NATO members and Japan called on the country's authorities to adopt a defence review, which is a condition that would enable Bosnia and Herzegovina to have its NATO Membership Action Plan activated at the alliance's summit in Warsaw next month. Russia, however, disagreed with this conclusion and expressed a dissenting opinion on Bosnia and Herzegovina's integration with NATO.
PIC also called on political and religious leaders in Bosnia and Herzegovina to work on promoting reconciliation, mutual trust and tolerance and to refrain from negative policies and policies that foment divisions, as well as from actions and statements that can radicalise individuals and communities, an allusion to a recent inflammatory speech the leader of the country's Islamic community, Husein Kavazovic, made in Switzerland.
The international body also called on the country's institutions to oppose the threat of terrorism even more strongly, welcoming moves by the Islamic community in that regard.
PIC underlined the importance of publishing results of a 2013 census despite opposition from the Serb entity.
It called on political parties, primarily the Croat HDZ BiH party and the predominantly Bosniak SDA party, to reach agreement on how to conduct elections in the southern city of Mostar, where elections have not been held for eight years, warning that any decision on elections must rule out the possibility of administrative division of the city, which is what the SDA has been advocating.
Mostar must remain a single, multi-ethnic unit of local self-government, PIC said.