Andrews Addresses Bosnian Parliament
The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr. David Andrews T.D., encouraged parliamentarians in Sarajevo today to continue working towards the full implementation of the Dayton Peace Accord. In an address to the Parliament of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Minister Andrews spoke of his "conviction that Bosnia would in the near future be able to take its rightful place as a full member of the Council of Europe". The Minister is visiting Bosnia in his capacity as Chairman of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe to assess the country's application for membership of the 41 member organisation.
The Minister expressed his personal view that Bosnia and Herzegovina recognises the principle of the rule of law and protects human rights (as required by the Statutes of the Council of Europe) but urged it to continue with democratic reforms in order to satisfy the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe which must soon adopt an opinion on its application for membership.
In particular the Minister spelt out the following steps which must be urgently taken to secure membership:
- the establishment of fully functioning common institutions such as a strong Parliament with active committees, regular meetings and structured workplans;
- the adoption of a new Election Law prior to the municipal elections in April and the general election in the autumn;
- increased funding for the Human Rights Chamber and the Ombudsperson - both of which are linked to the Council of Europe itself - and the Commission for Displaced Persons and Refugees;
- more political support for the State-level Constitutional Court;
- refugees in the area who wish to do so should be allowed return home in conditions of stability and good neighbourliness rather in an atmosphere of hatred and mistrust and new property legislation facilitating their return should be implemented in full as a matter of priority .
Minister Andrews is being accompanied in Bosnia by the Secretary General of the Council of Europe, Mr. Walter Schwimmer, and the address to Parliament follows talks with the Bosnian Foreign Minister, Mr. Jadranko Prlic, and the members of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina: Mr Alija Izetbegovic, Mr Ante Jelavic, and Mr Zivko Radisic. Later today he will meet Irish staff of international missions and NGOs in Sarajevo before travelling to Kosovo tomorrow.