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Unfinished Business In Bosnia


The leaders of Croatia, Serbia and Bosnia met for what is described as an informal meeting as part of efforts at reconciliation in postwar Balkans that is now striving to join the European Union.

The Western Balkan countries have agreed that European and Euro-Atlantic integration represent the best path forward for the region.

The Western Balkan countries have agreed that European and Euro-Atlantic integration represent the best path forward for the region. Until that integration takes place, said U.S. Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs William Burns, "the vision of a Europe whole, free, democratic and at peace will remain unrealized."

Croatia has led the way by meeting the requirements to accede to the European Union, or EU. The United States is hopeful that the rest of Croatia's Balkan neighbors will eventually be able to do the same, including Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The United States, said Under Secretary Burns, is deeply invested in peace and justice in Bosnia and Herzegovina and remains committed to helping the country succeed. But many issues remain unresolved. Nine months after its national elections, there is still no state government in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The U.S. is deeply disappointed that elected leaders continue to put personal, political, and sectarian interests above the national interest and the best interests of their citizens. The international community is prepared to help, but this effort cannot succeed unless the leaders of Bosnia and Herzegovina's parties display the courage to put the interests of the people ahead of their pride and their fears.

The United States will strongly oppose challenges to the Dayton Agreement and rhetoric that advocates Republika Srpska independence or secession for the Republika Srpska. Republika Srpska is a constituent part of Bosnia and Herzegovina and secession or independence is inconsistent with the Dayton Agreement. The U.S. supports strong entities in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the decentralized government structure established in the Dayton Agreement, but moves toward or even threats of secession set back prospects for European integration and destabilize the neighborhood.

The U.S. welcomes efforts by the EU and Croatia to focus Bosnia and Herzegovina's leaders on the steps needed to realize their country's European future.

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