Allow me first to join you in congratulating the Brazilian delegation for their remarkable work during the month of October, and to congratulate you, Mr President, and your team, on taking over the Presidency, and to assure you of our full support.
Switzerland welcomes the Council's unanimous vote on Resolution 2706 (2023), which renews the authorization of the EU-led EUFOR-Althea operation. The mission is making a significant contribution to peacekeeping in Bosnia and Herzegovina and is playing a key role in stabilizing the region. We thank all the members of the Council for their constructive engagement throughout the process. True to its long-standing commitment, Switzerland will continue to support the mission in fulfilling its mandate, including through the secondment of civilian and military experts.
The security, stability and prosperity of Bosnia and Herzegovina are based on its unity and territorial integrity. The Dayton agreement must therefore be respected and implemented in its entirety.
With regard to the civilian aspects of these agreements, Switzerland reiterates its support for the Office of the High Representative. The High Representative must be able to fulfil his mandate throughout the country. While he still plays a key role at present, the main aim remains to implement the "5+2" agenda and close the Office.
In his latest report, for which we thank him, the High Representative mentions serious tensions and divisions, which pose a challenge to peaceful, multi-ethnic coexistence in the country.
In recent months, inflammatory rhetoric and secessionist threats have intensified. The glorification of war criminals, historical revisionism and attempts to deny the genocide cannot be tolerated.
The actions of the leaders of Republika Srpska have particularly contributed to deepening divisions, calling into question the country's constitutional order and compromising the protection of fundamental rights. We deplore legislative initiatives aimed at restricting independent media and civil society. Freedom of expression and freedom of association are essential to any democratic society.
It is incumbent on the leaders of Bosnia and Herzegovina to act in good faith in the interests of the country as a whole and all parts of its society. It is incumbent on them not to inflame tensions and to engage in constructive dialogue and cooperation in order to bring reforms to a successful conclusion on the European path. Credible efforts to strengthen the rule of law, protect human rights and fight corruption are necessary.
The security, stability and prosperity of Bosnia and Herzegovina also depend on the participation of women in all decision-making processes. At present, women are underrepresented in the political arena. There is an urgent need to prioritize gender equality. Switzerland welcomes the attention paid to these issues and to the worrying cases of violence against women in the High Representative's report. We encourage him to include a gender analysis in all his work.
Promoting tolerance and strengthening social cohesion requires the daily efforts of all members of society - citizens as well as government and politicians.
At the same time, concrete measures for dealing with the past, focusing on the victims and their families, and for reconciliation must be taken to resolve the deep-rooted tensions that are currently resurfacing.
As we have been doing for thirty years, and given the close ties that unite us, Switzerland will continue to accompany Bosnia and Herzegovina on the path towards a united, peaceful and prosperous future.
I thank you.