The Dayton Peace Agreement, which put an end to the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina 20 years ago, is a reminder that peace is priceless and all of its shortcomings should be removed in a process that will make the country stable and prosperous, the international community's High Representative to Bosnia and Herzegovina, Valentin Inzko, said on Saturday.
In a special statement published on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the initialing of the Dayton Peace Agreement, Inzko says that in the current situation, notably in light of the war in Syria, it is important to remember how important that agreement was for establishing peace.
"... peace is hard-won and peace is priceless," Inzko says in the statement.
"Peace and stability is the base, the starting point, but people rightly want more than just peace. They want to live in a society where individuals have a chance to achieve their personal and public goals through talent and effort; they want this kind of society for themselves and their children... In this regard, the last ten years have been a disappointment for many citizens in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and for the international community," he says.
Many commentators believe that the Dayton agreement has caused years of stagnation in the country, the High Representative says, noting that as it makes progress towards integration with the European Union and NATO, Bosnia and Herzegovina will have to change its constitution, which is based on the Dayton Agreement, in order to become a functional state. However, that is something that cannot be imposed, he says.
"Constitutional changes will come when Bosnia is ready. They will be adopted through the amendment procedure contained in the constitution, which requires the agreement of all of the three largest ethnic groups in Bosnia and Herzegovina. No one will be threatened by this. In the meantime, I do not believe it is useful or accurate to blame Dayton for all of the problems in Bosnia and Herzegovina, or to throw up our hands and say that the system cannot work without constitutional change," the High Representative says, calling on local political leaders to commit themselves to "an ambitious reform agenda in the interests of the citizens" and to rediscover, 20 years after the war, their vision for the future of the country.
Over the next months, we shall see whether the authorities are committed to delivering measures listed in their own reform agendas, he says.
"Over the last twenty years, the international community has invested huge diplomatic and financial resources into Bosnia and Herzegovina towards a single, unwavering goal: to see a functional and prosperous Bosnia and Herzegovina, a state working in the interests of its citizens, as a fully integrated member of the Euro-Atlantic family. Today we continue to stand with the people of Bosnia and Herzegovina to work towards this vision," Inzko says in the statement.