SECURITY COUNCIL CONDEMNS ATTEMPTS BY SO-CALLED CROAT NATIONAL CONGRESS TO ESTABLISH SELF-RULE
Presidential Statement Supports Actions of High Representative;
NEW YORK, 22 March (UN Headquarters) -- The Security Council today condemned recent unilateral moves by the so-called Croat National Congress to establish Croat self-rule in open contradiction of the provisions of the Peace Agreement on Bosnia and Herzegovina, signed in Paris in 1995.
In a statement read out by Council President and Foreign Minister of Ukraine, Anatoliy Zlenko, the Council called on all parties to work within the legal institutions and constitutional framework of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the entities. It also expressed its support for the High Representative for the Implementation of the Peace Agreement, Wolfgang Petritsch, in taking actions against persons holding public office who were found to be in violation of legal commitments made under the Agreement or the terms for its implementation.
Further, the Council welcomed the new State-level and entity-level governments formed after the general elections of 11 November 2000 and called on them to make further progress on the return of refugees, consolidation of State institutions and economic reforms.
The Council also noted the recent conclusion of the Agreement on a Special Relationship between the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and the Republika Srpska. It urged the High Representative to monitor its implementation and any amendments to it, to ensure that it remained consistent with the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Bosnia and Herzegovina as a whole and with the Peace Agreement.
Prior to the statement, in a separate meeting, the Council heard a briefing by the High Representative, who stated that calls for ethnically based divisions were being sounded once more in mainly Croat parts of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Given Bosnia’s character as a truly multi-ethnic country, the shift to more moderate parties in last November’s general elections was both real and encouraging, he noted. The change had led –- nearly 10 years after the outbreak of war in Bosnia –- to the formation of the country’s first non-nationalist government at both State level and in the mainly Bosniak-Croat Federation.
On the issue of refugee return, he said that last year a record number of refugees and displaced persons decided it was safe to go home. There were more than 67,000 registered returns in Bosnia and Herzegovina in 2000 of people returning to areas where they were a minority -– almost double the rate of 1999. "When a Bosniak refugee has the confidence to return to a place like Srebrenica, site of Europe’s worst massacre since World War II, you can make a pretty safe bet that the nationalist message is losing ground", he said.
In the discussion that followed, speakers reiterated that the return of refugees and internally displaced persons was crucial for the successful implementation of the Peace Agreement. It was agreed that everything must be done to accelerate return throughout the country. The representative of Bosnia and Herzegovina said that while encouraging progress had been made in refugee returns, five years after Dayton the number of those waiting to return was still too high. He added that full deployment of the State Border Service was also vital for implementation of the Peace Agreement in order to combat such problems as drug trafficking, trafficking in humans and illegal immigration.
Attempting to allay concerns about the recently signed Agreement on Special Relations, the representative of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia emphasized that it was based on the Peace Agreement and fully respected the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Statements were also made by the representatives of the Russian Federation, Norway, France, Bangladesh, United States, Tunisia, China, United Kingdom, Ireland, Singapore, Jamaica, Colombia, Mali, Mauritius, Ukraine, Sweden (on behalf of the European Union and associated States) and Croatia.
The first meeting, which began at 10:38 a.m., adjourned at 1:31 p.m. The second meeting began at 1:32 p.m. and adjourned at 1:37 p.m.
The Security Council met this morning to consider the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina. It was expected to hear a briefing by the High Representative for the Implementation of the Peace Agreement on Bosnia and Herzegovina, Wolfgang Petritsch. The General Framework Agreement for Peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina (the Peace Agreement) was initialed in Dayton, Ohio, and signed in Paris in 1995 by the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Republic of Croatia and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.
WOLFGANG PETRITSCH, High Representative for the Implementation of the Peace Agreement on Bosnia and Herzegovina, said that he was speaking to the Council at a testing time for the hard-won peace in the Balkans. "The smoke over mountain villages and the angry crackle of gunfire have come back to haunt us in Macedonia and Serbia", he said. The calls for ethnically based divisions were being sounded once more in mainly Croat parts of Bosnia and Herzegovina. "What we must not do is cower at the appearance of a few gunmen or noisy threats and give up on all our hard work -– and billions of dollars -– that has gone into building the foundations for a stable and prosperous Balkans."
Given the revolutionary changes last year in both Croatia and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, last November’s general election results in Bosnia and Herzegovina were seen as a disappointment, he said. But, when given Bosnia’s character as a truly multi-ethnic country, the shift to more moderate parties was both real and encouraging. Old nationalist parties, none of them with particularly strong democratic credentials anyway, had seen their share of seats in the State level House of Representatives decline from 36 out of 42 seats in 1996 to just 19 in the last election.
The change, he went on, had led –- nearly 10 years after the outbreak of war in Bosnia –- to the formation of the country’s first non-nationalist government at both State level and in the mainly Bosniak-Croat Federation. In the predominantly Serb entity, Republika Srpska, a moderate technocrat headed the Government.
A record number of refugees and displaced persons last year decided it was safe enough to go home, he said. There were still criminal incidents aimed at scaring them away –- house burnings in the eastern town of Srebrenica, demonstrations and daily intimidation of housing officials charged with implementing tough new property laws. But, there were more than 67,000 registered returns in Bosnia and Herzegovina in 2000 of people returning to areas where they were a minority -– almost double the rate in 1999. "When a Bosniak refugee has the confidence to return to a place like Srebrenica, site of Europe’s worst massacre since World War II, you can make a pretty safe bet that the nationalist message is losing ground."
Bosnia and Herzegovina remained far too reliant on international aid flows, which made up an estimated 60 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP), he said. Both the new State and entity governments had ambitious plans to further the reforms –- cutting tax rates and widening the tax base, improving collection of customs and excise payments and pushing forward with privatization -– to attract both domestic and foreign investors and balance official budgets.
Since his last address to the Council, he had taken an important decision to set up constitutional commissions in both entities, which would ensure that the historical Constitutional Court ruling on the "constituent peoples case" was put in place on an interim basis until full implementation in the summer. That meant, in essence, that any constituent people in Bosnia -– Serb, Croat, Bosniak or other -– had their rights as citizens fully protected in law, even before the full implementation of the Court ruling. He also established the Independent Judicial Commission last December to shake up reform in the courts and prosecutors’ offices across the country.
How did the international community ensure that the Balkans integrated with Europe as a peaceful and prosperous region? he asked. First, it must continue to ensure its full support for the International Criminal Tribunal in The Hague, an institution which was getting results. Further, Slobodan Milosevic, Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic must face trial for their part in one of the last, grim acts of a dark century. Second, the international community must stop paying exclusive attention to the men with guns, like those on the Macedonian border and the Presevo Valley in southern Serbia. What implementation of the Dayton accords showed, he added, was the importance of citizenship based on the rule of law, which had formed the foundations of a prosperous United States and Europe.
GENNADY GATILOV (Russian Federation) said the report of the High Representative included both positive phenomenon, and also facts of serious concern. In the election last year, the moderate forces had won a victory over the nationalists, but the nationalists were not complying with the results of that election. While there had been a growth of the GDP, the economy of Bosnia and Herzegovina remained unstable. That had a negative impact on the social condition of the country. Youth and the intellectual elite continued to leave the country.
Those facts, he said, were sufficient to describe the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina as one that was causing difficulties. The Russian Federation continued to have difficulty regarding the justification for drawing up a draft of a single united front for Bosnia and Herzegovina. Nor was everything clear on the process of State restructuring. How did those ideas correspond to the Dayton accords and what made them attractive? He asked for clarification from the High Representative.
OLE PETER KOLBY (Norway) commended the High Representative’s peace implementation initiatives in the areas of economic reform, refugee return, and the consolidation of State institutions. Nevertheless, many challenges remained. His Government welcomed the formation of non-nationalist governments at State and entity levels following the general elections in November last year and called upon the respective governments to implement policies in accordance with priorities given by the Peace Implementation Council meeting in May 2000. It firmly condemned attempts by the Croat National Congress to establish a Croat entity within Bosnia and Herzegovina.
He underlined the crucial role of neighbouring countries in promoting a viable, stable, multi-ethnic and unified State in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The tensions in southern Serbia, Kosovo, and on the Macedonian side of the border could adversely affect political and economic developments in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The increasing problems of organized crime, illegal trafficking, economic stagnation and political instability could only be dealt with within a regional framework and with a unified international approach.
It was time, he said, for the governments of Bosnia and Herzegovina and its constituent entities to shoulder a greater share of the responsibility in developing a sustainable, peaceful and democratic solution for Bosnia and Herzegovina.
YVES DOUTRIAUX (France) said that the recent formation of the coalition government under Mr. Matic, following the 11 November 2000 elections, was an illustration of the new atmosphere in Bosnia and Herzegovina. After five years of nationalist domination, the change to a coalition of multi-ethic parties had become a reality. Everything must be done to ensure that the hopes raised during the elections were not dashed. It was essential that all necessary aid be given to the new Government in Bosnia and Herzegovina to ensure that it could meet its challenges. France supported the High Representative’s decision to remove Mr. Jelavic from the joint Presidency, as it was necessary in light of the delicate balance in the country. It was necessary to show that the framework of the Peace Agreement must not be deviated from.
It was essential that the new authorities consolidate the country and make the necessary social and economic reforms, he continued. The economy would be decisive in the coming general elections in the fall of 2002. The authorities must be given support as they tackle the reforms set out in the meeting in Brussels last May of the Peace Implementation Council. Confidence-building was necessary for investors, before they could put their money in the country.
ANWARUL KARIM CHOWDHURY (Bangladesh) said the report of the High Representative provided detailed information and traced the difficulties faced and the challenges ahead. It was important to recall the Srebrenica tragedy when speaking of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
There were three key areas which were important for progress: the consolidation of institutions, the return of refugees, and economic reform, he said. The elections last November marked a significant victory for the moderate forces in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The establishment of constitutional institutions and an independent judicial commission was a major step forward. The moves by the Croat National Congress to establish self-rule was not helpful to the political progress.
The Bosnia and Herzegovina economy was extremely fragile, he said. The unemployment rate was up to 50 per cent. His Government encouraged the international community to help in that regard. The return of refugees had been slow. Although return had taken place in several localities and had picked up this year, there were still a quarter of a million refugees outside the borders five years after the war.
There had been some speculation that the end of 2002 should be the target date for the end to the mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Did the High Representative see meeting that date? he asked. The changes in the political landscape in the Balkans last year raised the hope of a speedy implementation of the Dayton accords. What was the nature of the High Representative’s contacts with the new Government in Belgrade?
MARK C. MINTON (United States) said that the situation today was one of a mixture of positive developments and ongoing challenges. While Bosnia and Herzegovina had a coalition government consisting of moderate nationalist parties, that majority was fragile. It was not easy to achieve progress with regard to refugee returns and economic reforms in such a situation. It would be a difficult task. No one doubted the influence of the nationalists in the country. He applauded the resolute action the High Representative had taken to deal with Mr. Jelavic. Mr. Petritsch must monitor the situation closely and take concerted action as necessary.
His Government had made it clear that the international community had an important role to play in pushing for democracy when it seemed it was grounding to a halt, he said. While he was encouraged by the positive news on refugee return, more needed to be done. He was deeply concerned about the agreement signed between the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and the Republika Srpska. It was important that the High Representative monitor the details of that agreement, so that it did not violate the Dayton accords or undermine the sovereignty of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
NOUREDDINE MEJDOUB (Tunisia) said his Government considered the victory of moderate parties last November as an advancement towards the peaceful coexistence of all groups. The international community should not in any way show tolerance for any secessionist designs. He deplored the desires for autonomy by the nationalist Croats and hoped they would reconsider their position.
A strong and prosperous economy in Bosnia and Herzegovina was an important factor in the peace-building process, he said. The formation of an independent judicial system was also critical, and his Government supported the creation of a judicial commission in that regard. It also applauded the creation of a national mediator, particularly in its role in championing human rights and the rights of citizens.
Although it had been five years since the end of the war in Bosnia, there still had not been a complete return of refugees in the area, he said. Measures such as the strengthening of security around towns in which minorities lived would help in advancing a multi-ethnic society in Bosnia and Herzegovina. There also needed to be a total demining throughout the country. The events now taking place in the region were evidence of the fragility of the situation.
SHEN GUOFANG (China) thanked the High Representative for his interesting briefing. On the whole, he was satisfied that the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina was stable and the Peace Agreement was being implemented, thanks to the good faith of all parties and the help given by the international community. However, he noted that the implementation of the Peace Agreement had been slow in some areas, such as the return of minority refugees. He hoped that the various international agencies would intensify their work in the country.
The participation of the international community in the peaceful reconstruction of the country must be based on Bosnians being the primary players in the process, he said. The realization of ethnic reconciliation was the basis for peace and prosperity in the country. He also noticed that there were still radical and extreme forces within the country and was concerned by the divisive intentions displayed by the Croatian Democratic Union.
STEWART ELDON (United Kingdom) said that is was noticeable that there had been a number of significant achievements in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The work of the High Representative was clearly making an impact. The job must be finished and finished properly. His Government welcomed the progress made with the creation of an independent judicial commission. It was also a good sign that refugees were returning, but there was a lot that had to be done to get all the refugees back within the borders of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
His Government, he said, supported the High Representative’s general approach, but thought that it was important to reach out to the Bosnian-Croat communities. It encouraged him to work closely with other regional governments, particularly the Government in Zagreb. It was important that any further annex to the Dayton accords be reviewed by the High Representative. It was also essential that the High Representative continue to engage the President of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia in the implementation of the Dayton accords. Finally, the more cooperation that could be extended to the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia in bringing indictees to trial, the better.
DAVID COONEY (Ireland) said that the democratization and development of Bosnia and Herzegovina were essential to overall stability in the Balkans. Since the signature of the Peace Agreement over five years ago, considerable progress had been achieved there. The regional approach adopted was the correct one and he urged all parties in the region to contribute to the strengthening of inter-State relations. At the same time, there was a continued need for the involvement of the international community in the country. Ireland, as a member of the European Union, would continue to be active in that regard.
He welcomed the formation of a moderate government in Bosnia and Herzegovina, which, for the first time, contained no nationalist parties. He supported the programme outlined by the Government and hoped that it would make rapid progress in establishing State institutions to promote a sustainable, democratic and multi-ethnic society. The Government must undertake serious political, economic, human rights and rule of law reform in order to improve the conditions of all people in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Such reform would strengthen the capacity of the country for self-sustainability and help it to fulfil the conditions outlined in the European Union "road map" for moving towards full European integration.
He joined others in condemning the recent unilateral moves by the self-styled Croat National Congress in Bosnia and Herzegovina to establish a kind of Croat self-rule. Such moves were a clear violation of the Peace Agreement.
KISHORE MAHBUBANI (Singapore) welcomed the High Representative’s report on the efforts being made to rebuild Bosnia and Herzegovina. It was clear that the challenge was far from over. At the Council’s last meeting on the subject on 12 December 2000, optimism was expressed by many in the Council concerning the situation in the country. However, he was struck by the dissenting opinion by the representative of the Netherlands, who had noted that the animosity between the various ethnic groups had not subsided. Having listened to the High Representative, he was struck now at the fact that there were grounds for both optimism and pessimism in the region as a whole. It caused him to wonder whether the time had not come for the Council to rethink its approach towards Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Indeed, he continued, Richard Holbrooke of the United States had described Dayton as a document that had to adapt to new realities. Against that backdrop, he asked what measures were being taken to bring the Bosnian Croats back to the Dayton table. Also, were there any elements of Dayton that should be modified or amplified to better suit the reality on the ground? Third, did the elections in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia have any ripple effects in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and if so, were they positive or negative?
M. PATRICICA DURRANT (Jamaica) said her Government welcomed recent political changes, including the elections in November last year and the revision of election rules and procedures, which were an essential part of the process of establishing a firm, multi-ethnic political and judicial framework. The recent political crisis involving the bid by the Croat National Congress to establish Croat self-rule was a move away from the multi-ethnic political structure envisioned in the Dayton accords.
She remained concerned about the slow pace of economic development in the territory and the territories dependence on international aid, she said. Her Government encouraged steps to build economic capacity and sustainability and to implement economic reforms. It also encouraged the international community to continue to supplement those efforts by providing the necessary resources.
ALFONSO VALDIVIESO (Colombia) welcomed the information provided by the High Representative on the implementation of the Dayton Peace Agreement. The economic, social and political situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina had undergone positive changes in recent months. The results of the recent elections were a demonstration by the people that they wanted real change. The economic reform being implemented constituted the existing commitment to achieve the structural changes as suggested by international economic agencies. All the changes were still fragile, which was why the international community could not take any measures that might seem to diminish its support for the country.
He agreed with the priorities set by Mr. Petritsch -- reform of the economy, refugee return and the consolidation of institutions. However, he was concerned by the fact that the current political instability was undermining progress achieved and by the blatant threat to create an autonomous government.
He wanted to know what real support the nationalists had in the Bosnian Croat population. Also, did Mr. Petritsch believe that the initiative by the Bosnian Croats could be imitated by other nationalist groups? Could the Council make any contribution to ensure that that group abandoned their objectives? Finally, he reiterated that conflict in the Balkans could not be dealt with separately. A regional approach was needed.
MAMOUNOU TOURE (Mali) said the recent measures taken in the implementation of the Dayton accords were encouraging. Mali welcomed the formation of the new administration in the States and entities of Bosnia and Herzegovina and hoped it would transcend ethnic and partisan considerations. Institutional reforms must go along with economic reforms, if there was to be a better future for the people of Bosnia and Herzegovina. He encouraged the efforts made in the humanitarian field and in the area of human rights. All useful measures should be taken to assist those that were returning home. For Mali, the stabilizing role played by the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) was essential to progress within Bosnia and Herzegovina and the wider region.
ANUND PRIYAY NEEWOOR (Mauritius) thanked the High Representative for his briefing and noted the strenuous efforts undertaken by him to implement the Peace Agreement. He appreciated the courageous measures taken by him to strengthen vital institutions, and particularly welcomed the establishment of the Independent Judicial Commission to bring about reform in the justice system. Likewise, he believed that the education sector should equally receive the highest attention, since it was the younger generation that had to translate the idea of multi-ethnic harmony. Also, economic reforms were vital, since a vibrant economy contributed to lessening tensions.
He said that while the state of refugee return was positive, he did not doubt that the High Representative would continue to help create conditions to ensure that all refugees and displaced persons could return to the homes abandoned during the conflict. He understood the challenges Mr. Petritsch faced with the rise of nationalist sentiments and encouraged him to deal with them as needed.
The Council President, ANATOLIY ZLENKO, Foreign Minister of Ukraine, speaking in his national capacity, welcomed the undeniable success of the international community in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The general situation had become increasingly stable and there was growing support within the population for a moderate form of government. The decision to restructure the Constitutional Commission and the advancement of economic reforms were both key elements to progress. More had to be done in ensuring conditions of security. It was particularly important to make property laws more effective and to establish human rights institutions, especially for the national minorities within Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Ukraine, he said, did not support any attempt to revise the Dayton accords, which would threaten the stability of the whole region. The situation with the Croat National Congress was of particular concern and could seriously destabilize the situation within Bosnia and Herzegovina. Ukraine cautioned the High Representative of the possible decision to impose economic sanctions, as they might have negative consequences for the entire population. Devotion to democracy, peace and stability, and a commitment to the Dayton accords were absolutely necessary for national reconciliation within Bosnia and Herzegovina.
HUSEIN ZIVALJ (Bosnia and Herzegovina) thanked the Council for all its efforts to help his country implement the Dayton Peace Agreement. He also expressed his appreciation to Mr. Petritsch for all his efforts and work done in Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as for his comprehensive briefing. There were two issues that were crucial for the successful implementation of the Peace Agreement and the establishment of a multi-ethnic society. The first was the return of refugees and internally displaced persons, as stipulated by annex seven of the Peace Agreement. While encouraging progress had been made in refugee returns, five years after Dayton too many were still waiting to return. The reasons for that varied from security concerns to a lack of employment. Nonetheless, everything should be done to accelerate return throughout Bosnia and Herzegovina, especially to minority areas.
The second issue was the full deployment of the State Border Service, which was vital to combat drug trafficking, trafficking in humans and illegal immigration, among other problems. In that context, he underlined how important it was to establish the Service on all border crossings with neighbouring countries. Finally, he expressed his deep appreciation to Mr. Petritsch and all those providing aid to Bosnia and Herzegovina in support of its implementation of the Peace Agreement.
PIERRE SCHORI (Sweden), speaking on behalf of the European Union and Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Cyprus and Malta, said, for the first time, more than five years after the Dayton/Paris agreements, Bosnia and Herzegovina had a government without the participation of nationalist parties. The new Government would have the Union's full support in fulfilling the commitments undertaken in those agreements. The Union condemned recent unilateral moves by the so-called Croat National Congress of Bosnia and Herzegovina to place themselves outside the provisions of Dayton/Paris and called on the Croats of that country to work within the legal institutions at all levels to promote their interests.
He reiterated the Union's support for the decision of the High Representative to remove Ante Jelavic and others from their publicly held offices following their repeated undermining of the Dayton Peace Agreement, and underlined the crucial role of neighbouring countries in promoting a stable and multi-ethnic Bosnia and Herzegovina. He noted the recent establishment of a special parallel relationship between the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and Republika Srpska and urged the High Representative to monitor any further amendments to it, in order to ensure that it remained consistent with the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Progress was being made across the region in bringing individuals to account for abuses of power and criminal offences that were committed under the cover of previous undemocratic regimes, he said. He welcomed the decision by the former President of the Republika Srpska, Biljana Plavsic, to voluntarily present herself at the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia. He called upon all other persons indicted by the Tribunal to surrender themselves and urged relevant authorities in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and elsewhere, to arrest all indictees who remained at large. The Union wished to encourage the High Representative to review current international civil implementation structures in Bosnia and Herzegovina and to make proposals as to their streamlining, with a view to ensure the most effective coordination of all international actors, he said.
IVAN SIMONOVIC (Croatia) said the stability in Bosnia and Herzegovina had a direct impact on the stability and, moreover, the prosperity of Croatia. Croatia’s aspirations towards European integration were greatly influenced by developments in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Both countries relied heavily on each other’s traffic infrastructure and were important trade partners. His Government, therefore, firmly supported a stable, politically and economically self-sustainable Bosnia and Herzegovina, but was unsatisfied with the progress made and concerned with the present state of affairs.
Refugee returns, economic revitalization and proper functioning and development of its institutions remained the major problems in Bosnia and Herzegovina, he said. So far, no substantial refugee returns had occurred, particularly in regard to "minority" returns in Republika Srpska. The present constitutional arrangement in Bosnia and Herzegovina was the one that could have been agreed upon by all sides at the time it was negotiated. Today, the major task of the international community and the people of Bosnia and Herzegovina was to prevent the constitutional structure of the country from becoming its permanent source of instability.
The Republika Srpska had lived its own life as an ethnic "para-state" of the Serbian people, he said. In addition, referring to unilateral decisions taken by some Croatian political actors at their recent gathering in Mostar, he said his Government regretted that some of the political grievances of the Croatian population in Bosnia and Herzegovina had been addressed in an inappropriate manner by some of their elected representative. The Mostar Declaration had led the Croatian community in Bosnia and Herzegovina onto the road to isolation and marginalization. The existence of real problems and legitimate fears held by the Croatian community could, however, not be ignored. The Croats were the smallest constituent nation in Bosnia and Herzegovina, living in ethnically mixed territories without their own entity.
He said his country believed that the Dayton goals must be implemented, but could not conceive the project of implementation as a static notion. It was a dynamic one, requiring an appropriate evolution of joint institutions, which must ensure genuine representation and protection of all three constituent people throughout the territory. All the problems must be resolved within those joint institutions through a democratic process. That was the road to a democratic and self-sustainable Bosnia and Herzegovina. "We will do our utmost to provide help and assistance to Bosnia and Herzegovina, because we need a stable neighbour, a partner we can count on in our joint quest for a European future", he said.
DEJAN SAHOVIC (Federal Republic of Yugoslavia) thanked Mr. Petritsch for his informative briefing and emphasized the full commitment of his country to the consistent implementation of, and full respect for, the Peace Agreement. Likewise, he expected all others involved to remain committed to that process, as well. Since the Council’s last meeting on implementation of the Agreement, the Federal Republic had taken a number of important steps to demonstrate its resolve to establishing normal relations with Bosnia and Herzegovina. First, his country and Bosnia and Herzegovina had established diplomatic relations and would soon exchange ambassadors.
Much concern had been expressed about the agreement on special relations between the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and the Republika Srpska, he noted. He wanted to make clear that they had signed that agreement based on the Dayton Agreement and fully respecting the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Bosnia and Herzegovina. That agreement provides for the needs of both with regard to regulating mutual relations in such areas as science and the economy. The harmonization of a number of inter-State agreements was under way between the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and Bosnia and Herzegovina in such fields as trade, customs and transport, and legal assistance. Also nearing completion were negotiations on the establishment of an Inter-State Council.
His country was very much interested in the return of refugees from the Federal Republic to Bosnia and Herzegovina, he added. He was convinced that there was no alternative to the consistent implementation of Dayton. While fully aware that the primary responsibility lay with Bosnia and Herzegovina, his country, as a neighbour, stood ready to render its contribution.
Mr. PETRITSCH said the questions and interests raised showed the support of the Security Council for the implementation of the Dayton accords. He believed that there would be a final agreement reached on a common defence policy in the near future. Regarding cantonization, he thought it was a good idea on an academic level, but it was more important at this point to follow and fully implement the Dayton accords as they were.
The visit of Foreign Minister Hubert Vedrine of France to Bosnia and Herzegovina had been very well received, and he encouraged other governments to follow suit. The fact that the Foreign Minister had referred to the urgency of economic reform and the Europeanization of Bosnia and Herzegovina was very important. The next one-and-a-half years were a window of opportunity to really implement reform at the local level.
He had been assured that the mission would be concluded within the set timetable and felt that the tasks of the United Nations would be completed by that time. His contacts with Belgrade were very close, particularly in conjunction with the special parallel relationship agreement. There would be continued international involvement with the agreement and he would continue to monitor implementation.
Refugee return and institutional and economic reform were the three priorities for the mission, he said. There was a certain tendency towards dependency, which the international community should be aware of. The local communities depended too much on the international assistance, but the new Government was moving in a positive direction in changing that pattern.
Refugee return, he said, had produced a breakthrough in the past year, even though there were many problems still to be addressed. There was now a refugee ministry at the State level and he expected the redoubling of efforts at the State level. Economic revitalization of the country was vital in that regard. It was one thing to return to the country, but it was another to find a job there. The question was now not whether refugees would return to minority areas, but how fast.
He had established an outreach approach towards the Croat people, he said. There was no State of Bosnia and Herzegovina without the Croats. The Prime Minister in Bosnia and Herzegovina and many other ministers were Croat, so the Croats were equally represented in the new Government. The Croat people had to be supported and reminded that they were not just represented by the Croat National Congress. The Croat rebellion was more a dying gasp than anything else, but the international community still had to be vigilant. The party was out of power now and Croatia was not supporting the Croat National Congress.
For the first time there was a sign that moderate politics would succeed in Bosnia and Herzegovina, he said. Economic sanctions were not envisioned for the people of Bosnia and Herzegovina, but would be taken against individuals. He was confident the country would be ready to join the Council of Europe in the course of the year.
In a separate meeting, the Council President, ANATOLIY ZLENKO, Foreign Minister of Ukraine, read out the following statement, which will be issued as S/PRST/2001/11:
"The Security Council welcomes the briefing by the High Representative for the implementation of the General Framework Agreement on Peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the annexes thereto (collectively the Peace Agreement, S/1995/999, annex) on the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina and commends his efforts in implementing this agreement.
"The Security Council encourages further regional political and economic cooperation, in compliance with the principles of the sovereignty and territorial integrity and the inviolability of the borders of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the other States of the region.
"The Security Council welcomes the new State-level and entity-level governments formed after the general elections of 11 November 2000 and calls on them to take active measures to make further progress on the return of refugees, consolidation of the State institutions, and economic reform. It welcomes the progress on creating a State-Level Defence Identity in full compliance with the relevant provisions of the Peace Agreement and encourages the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina to finalize the unresolved details without delay.
"The Security Council welcomes the establishment of Constitutional Commissions to protect the vital interest of the constituent peoples to facilitate the implementation of the 'Constituent Peoples decision' of the Constitutional Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina of 1 July 2000 and calls upon the entity parliaments to engage in the debate about the necessary amendments to their respective constitutions in the light of proposals examined by the Constitutional Commissions.
"The Security Council notes the recent conclusion of the Agreement on a Special Relationship between the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and the Republika Srpska and urges the High Representative to monitor its implementation and any amendments to it, in order to ensure that it remains consistent with the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Bosnia and Herzegovina as a whole and with the Peace Agreement.
"The Security Council condemns recent unilateral moves by the so-called Croat National Congress to establish Croat self-rule in open contradiction of the provisions of the Peace Agreement, and calls on all parties to work within the legal institutions and constitutional framework of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the entities. It expresses its support for the High Representative in taking actions against persons holding public office who are found to be in violation of legal commitments made under the Peace Agreement or the terms for its implementation.
"The Security Council welcomes the progress made on the return of refugees and property law implementation in the year 2000, but remains concerned at the slow pace of refugee return, particularly in urban areas. The Council insists on the responsibility of the local authorities to accelerate the rate of return and property law implementation.
"The Security Council urges all political parties in Bosnia and Herzegovina and their respective leaders to engage constructively within the legal institutions of that country in order to implement fully the Peace Agreement."
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