SUCCESS OF MULTI-ETHNICITY, REFUGEE RETURN CRUCIAL
NEW YORK, 15 June (UN Headquarters) -- "We cannot afford to give up on Bosnia and Herzegovina, nor is it necessary to do so", Jacques Paul Klein, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Coordinator of United Nations Operations in Bosnia and Herzegovina, told the Security Council this morning as it met to take up the situation in that country.
Briefing the Council on recent events in the country and region, as well as on the operations of the United Nations Mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina (UNMIBH), the Special Representative said that as long as the international community continued to pursue a piecemeal approach to the Balkans, the real opportunities to close a decade of war and instability would go begging. A credible and practical vision to help the country shed its past and embrace a European future was key.
The success of multi-ethnicity in Bosnia and Herzegovina was key to prospects of multi-ethnic States throughout the Balkans –- the process in Bosnia and Herzegovina must be seen through. There could be no exit without strategy, and the achievement of a common vision by all parties was key. He added that he could not over-emphasize the importance of the participation of the Security Council in resolving the question of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The representative of Bosnia and Herzegovina said that the key issue for the successful promotion of peace and overall respect for human rights in Bosnia and Herzegovina was ensuring the return of all refugees and internally displaced persons to their pre-war homes. Although significant progress had been made in that area, more than 1 million people were still waiting to return home. The continued presence of indicted war criminals in Bosnia and Herzegovina was one of the biggest impediments to returns. He could not stress strongly enough the importance of arresting those criminals, who posed a constant threat to the country’s fragile stability. It was imperative that there be full cooperation with the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia.
The Federal Republic of Yugoslavia’s representative said his country had taken a number of important steps aimed at strengthening and broadening cooperation with Bosnia and Herzegovina. During the visit of the presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina on 22 May, full support for the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Bosnia and Herzegovina had been reiterated, and a firm commitment was made to further promote mutual relations as the only way of achieving lasting peace and stability in the region and its gradual inclusion into European integration processes. As far as the key question of the return of refugees was concerned, his country had proposed that a concrete project for the return of refugees of all three nationalities to their regions of origin should be examined.
Speaking on behalf of the European Union and associated States, Sweden’s representative said the return of refugees and displaced persons to their homes remained a top priority for the international community’s efforts in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The Union noted with satisfaction the significant increase in the number of minority returns this year. It was imperative, he stressed, that the Bosnian authorities fully implement measures likely to foster returns, such as property law, and cease obstructing legal evictions. While considering the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the international community could not overlook the wider regional context, he added.
Statements were also made by the United States, France, Russian Federation, Tunisia, China, United Kingdom, Norway, Ukraine, Jamaica, Ireland, Mauritius, Singapore, Colombia, Mali and Bangladesh.
In addition to making his opening statement, Mr. Klein responded to questions and comments made during the meeting.
The meeting was called to order at 10:30 a.m. and adjourned at 12:50 p.m.
When the Council met this morning, it had before it the report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina (UNMIBH) (document S/2001/571), which details UNMIBH’s progress since 30 November 2000 and recommends that the Mission’s mandate be extended at an authorized strength of 1,850 police officers for a further 12-month period. It makes that recommendation in view of the progress achieved so far by UNMIBH and its plan to implement its core tasks by December 2002.
Addressing the situation in the country, the Secretary-General writes that the international community cannot afford to lessen its resolve or its commitment to Bosnia and Herzegovina, as consequences for the people of the region and for international peace and security could be incalculable.
Recent political changes are beginning to have a positive impact, he writes. The new democratic Governments in Bosnia and Herzegovina, in the Republic of Croatia and in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia have each pledged, and begun to act upon, commitments to constructive bilateral and regional relations based on mutual respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of each State. These developments are to be welcomed and encouraged as a baseline investment in the stability and recovery of the region. But other measures are essential, including renouncing and ceasing political and other support to ultra-nationalist groups, and taking robust measures to combat cross-border smuggling, organized crime and money laundering.
Clearly, the Secretary-General continues, the legitimate political, legal and cultural rights of all citizens must be guaranteed. It should be recalled that the Dayton Accords not only ended the war, but also established a constitutional framework for the peaceful and democratic resolution of disputes. It is regrettable that decisions of the Constitutional Court on the equality of citizens throughout Bosnia and Herzegovina have not yet been implemented, and that agreement has not been reached on a permanent Law on Elections. Progress in these areas is an essential step towards developing a national political consensus and joining European institutions, he notes.
Despite the difficult political environment, the report states, UNMIBH continues to make measurable progress in the implementation of its mission to assist the parties in establishing the foundations for effective, democratic, multi-ethnic and sustainable law enforcement agencies. In some areas, such as the establishment of the State Border Service and the development of domestic and external police cooperation, progress has been very rapid. In other areas, including police vetting to weed out personnel who are war or economic criminals, minority recruitment and the court police, progress is being made incrementally through highly resource-intensive projects. But there remain essential areas, such as the police commissioner project, where the mission has faced serious political obstruction.
The continued presence of indicted war criminals in Bosnia and Herzegovina impedes the speed of peace implementation, the report continues. As long as war criminals remain above the law, citizens do not have confidence in the political neutrality and professionalism of the local police and judiciary. The Secretary-General, therefore, calls on the authorities of Bosnia and Herzegovina and on neighbouring States, as well as all others concerned, to cooperate fully with the International Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia.
Establishment of the rule of law is a fundamental precondition for self-sustaining peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Secretary-General writes. The role of UNMIBH in police reform and restructuring is key to that endeavour. Recent events in the country have amply demonstrated the importance of the role the international community plays and will continue to play in the country. Increasing the efficiency and cohesion of the efforts of various international actors on the ground is an essential precondition for success.
JACQUES PAUL KLEIN, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Coordinator of United Nations Operations in Bosnia and Herzegovina, said that this was a complex and volatile period, but that results in the field created reason for optimism, not pessimism. The number of people returning to their homes had never been so high -- 100,000 people might be the figure this year.
He said cooperation between the parties was the fundamental building block for reaching closure and creating a stable situation in the country. It was a psychological maxim that, until the patient recognized he had a problem, a cure could not be found. In the case of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the establishment of truth and reconciliation commissions would be a first step towards healing.
It was far more prudent and effective to work on the integration of Bosnia and Herzegovina rather than on its disintegration, he said. Internal inter-ethnic trade and commerce had been re-established. Anti-corruption measures were taking effect. Croat soldiers had started to return to their barracks. The political crisis was not over, but for the ultra-nationalists the writing was on the wall.
Those unable to redraw the consensual boundaries during the war should not now try to revive failed schemes, he stressed. The precedent of giving up on a multi-ethnic Bosnia and Herzegovina would be a disaster for the region. Giving up would sound the death knell for multi-ethnic States throughout the region.
"We cannot afford to give up on Bosnia and Herzegovina, nor is it necessary to do so", he said. With a credible plan and implementation of the core provisions of Dayton, solid progress could be achieved in a matter of a few years. As long as the international community continued to pursue a piecemeal approach to the Balkans, the real opportunities to close a decade of war and instability would go begging. A credible and practical vision to help the country shed its past and embrace a European future was key.
Weak States devastated by war lacked a credible overarching path for stabilization and development, he said. A credible path must be planned and articulated. A reconsideration of the respective roles of the Stability Pact and the European Union would be timely. The people of the region themselves must articulate their will to live peacefully as part of Europe. Constitutional evolution was becoming necessary -– Dayton was the floor, not the ceiling. It had never been meant to constrain the common will of the citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The failure of leaders to exercise real leadership was contributing to the negative climate, he said. Political ferment and increased incidents of public disorder directly impacted on UNMIBH’s work and personnel. This trend would only be broken when the leaders and people gathered to determine the rules that would govern their State.
He then went on to give an overview of UNMIBH’s operations. About one third of its projects had been completed, one third were ongoing and the remainder would be launched in the next six months. UNMIBH’s was possibly the largest project of police reform that had ever been undertaken. However, salaries, judicial follow-through and political interference fell outside UNMIBH’s mandate and must be looked into by the High Representative.
The State Border Service, when fully equipped, would play a major role in cracking down on crime and increasing State revenue. Completion of full deployment by next year would depend on a new donation of some $17 million. Trafficking in human beings was one of the gravest crimes, and UNMIBH had intensified its efforts to address the issue. The official inauguration of the Sarajevo Interpol office would take place next year, he noted.
The fact that minority returns had doubled was evidence of increased police performance, he said. More in that area remained to be done. Multi-ethnic police forces were essential and there were currently some 1,000 minority police members of the International Police Task Force (IPTF). He asked for support in sending a clear message that independent police commissioners must be appointed.
He said he was expecting a "politically hot summer". Difficult economic conditions, including some 40 per cent unemployment among young people – was creating an easily manipulated political class, and riots had been seen, in which police had been overwhelmed or had not acted. The UNMIBH had taken swift action against non-performing police officers, he noted.
He expressed concern about potential cuts in the Multinational Stabilization Force (SFOR) levels, which might embolden extremists. The violence of the past two months had sounded a warning. Significant action could be taken. The arrest of war criminals remained the most important action to undercut extremists. The lack of progress in arresting key figures underlined the weakness of the international community in the face of evil.
He reported progress in Srebrenica. The Srebrenica action plan had been adopted in March. The role of UNMIBH was focused on return security and multi-ethnic policing, as well as several infrastructure building projects. A more active dialogue between religious and other groups was desperately needed.
The success of multi-ethnicity in Bosnia and Herzegovina was key to prospects of multi-ethnic States throughout the Balkans –- the process in Bosnia and Herzegovina must be seen through. There could be no exit without strategy. The UNMIBH could achieve its full mandate by next year provided it kept the same police strength. The achievement of a common vision by all parties was key. He added that he could not over-emphasize the participation of the Security Council in resolving the question of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
JAMES B. CUNNINGHAM (United States) said his delegation supported the renewal of the mandate of UNMIBH for an additional 12 months, as recommended by the Secretary-General. It was also encouraged by the work of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and Mr. Klein’s eloquent statement about the necessity of facing history in order to deal with the future. Of particular importance was the progress made on the IPTF, the training of the Bosnian police force in democratic policing, and the progress on the State Border Service.
He also commended the UNMIBH task force on illegal immigration. The United States supported the appointment of professional and non-political police commissioners at the canton level, and urged the Mission to move ahead with that. He urged all Council members and representatives of governments present today to take note of Mr. Klein’s urging to plan ahead. He also underscored the importance of international cooperation in meeting the goals set.
JEAN-DAVID LEVITTE (France) said UNMIBH had set clear-cut objectives for itself. It accounted regularly and in a transparent manner on all the obstacles it encountered. Several alarming events over the past few months had put the police in Bosnia and Herzegovina under strain. One was the dissent by the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) leaders who had also tried to incite the Bosnian and Croatian police to violate the Dayton provisions. That had been followed by riots. Violence and the lack of professionalism and respect for institutions still existed. The UNMIBH, however, had reacted in a most appropriate manner to the negative incidents.
Along with sanctions, he continued, what was needed in Bosnia and Herzegovina was appropriate training for the police, as well as improvement to their financial and social situation. He hoped the process of restructuring the police force would begin as soon possible. Also, some elements still believed that the democratic process could be changed by obstruction and violence. People must be made aware that Dayton had no place for such elements. The international community could not let itself be distracted from its goals and objectives in the region. The Security Council should convey that same message in its forthcoming visit to that part of the world, he added.
GENNADY GATILOV (Russian Federation) said he supported the recommendation to extend the current mandate of the Mission for another year. He agreed with the suggested reduction of the IPTF to 1,850 personnel. He supported the work of Mr. Klein and UNMIBH, and commended that fact that the Mission was on its way to completing its core mandate. The Dayton accords were the basis for peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The agreement had made it possible to lay the groundwork for statehood. Attempts to revise Dayton could upset the balance. Relying on a solid balance of Dayton and resolutions of the Council would mean progress and meeting the challenges of reinforcing the multi-ethnic nature of the State.
The country’s situation continued to cause his delegation concern, he said. Despite the victory by moderate forces, nationalists were refusing to participate in implementing the outcome of the elections. He was concerned by attempts to proclaim Croatian self-governance, and strongly condemned extremism and acts of ethnic violence. The leading political circles in the country must shoulder responsibility for the country’s future. A specific programme of action for the international community in Bosnia and Herzegovina must be worked out, and a precise mechanism for cooperation in the field must be developed.
NOUREDDINE MEJDOUB (Tunisia) said his country noted with satisfaction the positive developments characterizing the situation as a whole in Bosnia and Herzegovina, especially regarding security conditions. Despite the success recorded in different areas, the road to the full implementation of durable peace would be long and would require firm resolve on the part of the international community. Any premature disengagement could bring about the collapse of the entire edifice, and a failure of that magnitude could not be afforded. It was key that whatever the exit strategy, it must comprise the situation of the Balkans as a whole.
While welcoming the encouraging results noted in terms of police restructuring, in particular the composition of the police force, he emphasized that success would depend on a global vision of what police action symbolized. Permitting ethnic minorities to increasingly participate in local police forces was desirable. He also supported UNMIBH’s decision to severely punish any crimes with an ethnic component, as such crimes represented a genuine threat and undermined the efforts of the international community to bring about durable peace. He added that he also supported UNMIBH’s efforts in the area of judicial reform. Further, he praised the work of the border police. He supported the recommendation to extend the Mission’s mandate.
WANG YINGFAN (China) said that in recent years UNMIBH’s efforts to implement police reform and judicial training had achieved notable progress. Those positives would lay the long-term foundation for developments in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The Secretary-General’s report and Mr. Klein’s briefing this morning had also given pertinent insights on national reconciliation in the entity.
He said the problems in Bosnia and Herzegovina were similar to those in other parts of the Balkans and even in the Great Lakes region. Those problems were universal, and Bosnia and Herzegovina, thus, presented a test case. Efforts to recruit police from amongst the minorities and stimulate the return of refugees had seen little progress. He noted that, although the war had ended six years ago, the wounds inflicted on the people had not healed. The road to reconciliation was long, and required the long-standing efforts of UNMIBH.
Sir JEREMY GREENSTOCK (United Kingdom) said he wished to reiterate the importance of the full implementation of the Dayton Accords. That was the guiding principle and should not be forgotten or obscured. His delegation also supported the extension of the Mission’s mandate as recommended by the Secretary-General. In addition, he was interested in hearing exactly when and how the Mission would judge whether targets were being achieved. What were the benchmarks, how would they be measured, and when "will we hear the results of the measures"? he asked.
If carried through properly, this Mission would signify an exemplary approach to the work of a United Nations mission, he said. His delegation endorsed the importance of creating an apolitical police force. Mr. Klein, therefore, had his full support on the appointment of professional and non-political police commissioners at the canton level. The ability of the police to control crowds and low minority representation were two issues on which he wanted the Special Representative to expand. He stressed the extreme importance of addressing ethnically motivated offences and crimes related to refugee return.
OLE PETER KOLBY (Norway) welcomed UNMIBH’s mandate implementation plan and commended the Mission for the progress it had made. Norway supported the extension of UNMIBH’s mandate. Time and resources must be given to the Mission. Minority representation on the police force was among the issues that must be addressed. International support and supervision continued to be needed, and local and State actors must share the responsibility. Norway had been among the major contributors and would continue to provide assistance. However, it expected local leaders to do their share.
The international community and the main actors must increase cooperation in the country. The parties must complement each other rather than compete. He welcomed the formation of non-nationalist governments. Reports indicated substantial minority returns, and he commended the courage of the returnees. It was unacceptable that nationalist and criminal elements continued to hamper the return of displaced persons from their rightful homes. All local and State governments should cooperate with the Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. He also condemned attempts to establish a Croatian entity within Bosnia and Herzegovina. He hoped that the new democratic governments in the region would commit themselves to further reconciliation and cooperation based on mutual recognition and respect. The international community must stay the course in helping the countries of the region to find sustained peace and stability.
VALERY P. KUCHINSKY (Ukraine) expressed serious concern at the continued confrontation between the international community and the Croat nationalist parties united in the Croat National Congress, which resulted in clashes with SFOR in Mostar and other places in April. Any attempts by the Croat nationalist forces to create self-governing structures and impair the functioning of the Federation Army and police were unacceptable, since they merely contradicted the peace agreement and the Constitution of Bosnia and Herzegovina. He was also worried by the manifestations of extremism, national and religious intolerance, and acts of violence against international personnel in Trebinje and Banja Luka in May. Those events clearly demonstrated that after six years of international efforts, there was still a long way to go to ensure the process of reconciliation.
He was convinced that good neighbourly relations and the favourable political environment in the region were prerequisites for the successful transformation of Bosnia and Herzegovina into a stable and prosperous country and a member of the European community. In that regard, the recent political changes in Croatia and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia contributed positively to the ongoing processes in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The role of UNMIBH in confronting the remaining challenges of ethnic reconciliation, democratic institution-building, economic reconstruction and the implementation of human rights in the country was still essential. He, therefore, supported the extension of UNMIBH's current mandate for a further 12 months.
CURTIS WARD (Jamaica) said he was pleased by UNMIBH’s progress. The time lines established and key objectives stated provided key indicators to measure progress and make adjustments. He was confident that, with continued support, UNMIBH would be able to complete its core tasks by December 2002. Stabilization and recovery in the whole region depended on how the key challenges were resolved. The continued full cooperation of the international community was essential. Failure to see the task through to the end would be disastrous for the whole region, he added, noting that regional cooperation augured well for the future of the Balkans.
The only way forward to peace and stability rested firmly on the actors’ commitment to bilateral relations based on mutual respect, he said. There was no other way, and those advocating another path should be condemned by all. Law and order were essential to the stability of any nation State. Police reform must, therefore, continue to be a high priority. He attached importance to the continued emphasis on police training. He supported the appeal of the Secretary-General for contributions to the trust fund for the police assistance programme, and called for full cooperation by all parties with the Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia.
DAVID COONEY (Ireland) said democratization and the development of Bosnia and Herzegovina were essential to the overall stability of all Bosnians. The challenge was not only to establish a multi-ethnic society, but also to establish one that recognized cultural and ethnic differences and transcended all borders. States in all parts of that region also needed to strengthen inter-State relations.
He said UNMIBH had made a lot of progress, especially in the area of improving the police force. The low salaries of the police and lack of judicial follow-up were worrying. Instituting property rights and the return of refugees and internally displaced persons was essential to the stability of the region, His delegation supported both the efforts of SFOR in apprehending war criminals and the proposed extension of UNMIBH’s mandate.
ANUND PRIYAY NEEWOOR (Mauritius) said UNMIBH had been making an immense contribution towards establishing the credibility of the police by providing them with international standards of personal integrity and professional competence. He was, however, concerned about the continuing political interference in professional police work. He called on the Government of Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as the High Representative, to give priority to the problems of the housing status, irregular and low wages, and efficient judicial follow-up with respect to police work.
He was concerned that so far the Constitutional Court decisions on the equality of citizens had not been implemented. Nor had there been agreement on a permanent Law on Elections. He urged all concerned to cooperate to take those processes forward, and called on all parties to comply strictly with their obligations under the General Framework Agreement for Peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Dayton Accords.
Every possible measure should be taken to prevent any nationalistic action, he said, and strongly condemned the recent attempts to establish a Croat "self-government" in parts of Herzegovina and the recent incidents of mob violence by Bosnian Serbs. Any attempt to change State borders and democratic institutions in Bosnia and Herzegovina and in the region through obstruction and violence should be severely condemned. Cooperation between Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and Croatia was paramount for sustainable peace and stability in the region.
YAP ONG HENG (Singapore) noted that there were still some in the country who had not abandoned the path of sectarianism and separation. The goal of creating a multi-ethnic society must not be abandoned. In that context, his country supported extending the mandate of the Mission. In the interest of brevity, he would not repeat the points already made. He asked about the endemic problems that impaired police performance. What steps could be taken to resolve the situation?
ALFONSO VALDIVIESO (Colombia) said the Mission’s achievements were quite positive and demonstrated the commitment of the international community and the population to comply with the Dayton accords. He wished to highlight the Mission’s achievements in restructuring the police, but was concerned by such issues as salary and housing, which had an impact on the general direction of the force. What had been the response of the High Representative when faced with that issue, and what could UNMIBH do?
An effective and transparent judicial system was key to establishing sustainable peace, he said. He insisted on the need to increase cooperation with the Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. He appealed to the political leadership in the country to cooperate with the international community. One of the indicators of success would be the emergence of a political class whose behaviour contributed to the development of the society. He supported the extension of the Mission’s mandate.
MAMANOU TOURÉ (Mali) said he welcomed and supported the outstanding efforts of the international community to implement the Dayton Accords in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Those accords had established a viable constitutional framework and the pillar on which Bosnia and Herzegovina could evolve. He called on all actors within the entity to contribute to implementing the peace accords.
He said it was now more urgent than ever for the international community to mobilize the means to guarantee the people of Bosnia and Herzegovina their political rights. Institutionalization should also be accompanied by a rebuilding of the economy, since economic development was the best guarantee of peace. International efforts were also needed to integrate the Balkans into Euro-Atlantic structures. He called on all States to track down and hand over all indictees to the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia.
PER NORSTRÖM (Sweden), speaking on behalf of the European Union, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Cyprus, Malta, Turkey and Iceland, said that in spite of tangible progress in many areas, certain types of action and thought based on ethnic approaches continued to manifest themselves in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The Union had condemned recent acts of violence in Mostar, Trebinje and Banja Luka, as well as actions taken by Bosnian Croat nationalists to place themselves outside the provisions of the Dayton and Paris accords. In that light, the Union fully supported the measures taken by UNMIBH, SFOR and the High Representative to minimize the possible destabilizing effects of those events.
The return of refugees and displaced persons to their homes remained a top priority for the international community’s efforts in Bosnia and Herzegovina, he said. The Union noted with satisfaction the significant increase in the number of minority returns this year. It was imperative, he stressed, that the Bosnian authorities fully implement measures likely to foster returns, such as the enactment of property law, and cease obstructing legal evictions. While considering the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the international community could not overlook the wider regional context. Constructive and transparent support from Zagreb and Belgrade was vital in implementing the Dayton Agreement and strengthening State-level institutions.
HUSEIN ZIVALJ (Bosnia and Herzegovina) said that, indeed, much had been achieved in his country with the assistance of the United Nations Mission there. One of the many accomplishments had been in the area of police reform where the near-completion of new training programmes had been encouraging. Those programmes, along with the Mission’s enhanced monitoring capacity, should significantly improve local police performance. That was especially important in light of the recent failure of the police to maintain public order during ceremonies set to mark the rebuilding of Trebinje and Banja Luka, two mosques destroyed during earlier fighting. At the same time, it was important to note that the active role played by the police in implementing the decision on an inter-entity boundary line in Dobrinja had had positive effects. He added that, through police reform, it was possible to establish a good foundation for the repossession of real property.
He went on to say that the recruitment and participation of minorities in the local police forces, both in the Federation and the Republika Srpska, were behind schedule. Since minority representation in local police forces was of the utmost importance, particularly for the return of refugees and internally displaced persons, he appealed to the donor community to provide additional resources so that the financial difficulties plaguing the recruitment process could be overcome. He noted that the establishment of the State Border Service was well on the way to enhancing the sovereignty and integrity of Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as contributing to a reduction in the flow of illegal immigration and trafficking in human beings. Another significant step in combating illegal migration and organized crime had been the trilateral agreement made between his country, Croatia and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. He welcomed that initiative and congratulated UNMIBH for its help in achieving that important goal. He hoped that, with generous contributions from international donors, the Service could be established along the remaining 35 per cent of the State border line in the near future.
The key issue for the successful promotion of peace and overall respect for human rights in Bosnia and Herzegovina was ensuring full implementation of Annex VII of the Peace Agreement -- namely, the return of all refugees and internally displaced persons to their pre-war homes. Although significant progress had been made in that area, more than 1 million people were still waiting to return home. The continued presence of indicted war criminals in Bosnia and Herzegovina was one of the biggest impediments to returns. He could not stress strongly enough the importance of arresting those criminals, who posed a constant threat to the country’s fragile stability. It was imperative that there be full cooperation with the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia.
DEJAN SAHOVIC (Federal Republic of Yugoslavia) said his country had taken a number of important steps aimed at strengthening and broadening cooperation with Bosnia and Herzegovina. During the visit of the presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina on 22 May, full support for the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Bosnia and Herzegovina was reiterated, and a firm commitment was made to further promote mutual relations as the only way of achieving lasting peace and stability in the region and its gradual inclusion into European integration processes. An agreement on the establishment of a Bosnia and Herzegovina/Federal Republic of Yugoslavia Inter-State Cooperation Council had been signed.
As far as the key question of the return of refugees was concerned, he said Yugoslavia had proposed that a concrete project for the return of refugees of all three nationalities to their regions of origin should be examined. Initiatives have been undertaken to conclude an agreement in education and culture, as well as agreements on the avoidance of double taxation and dual citizenship, among other issues. The Serbian Prime Minister had visited Sarajevo on 12 June and had discussed concrete measures concerning development and trade.
He emphasized the reference in the Secretary-General’s report to the commitment of the new democratic authorities in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia to work for the establishment of constructive bilateral and regional relations among them. In their joint statement of 8 June, the Presidents of Yugoslavia and Croatia had stressed their agreement that a stable and democratic Bosnia and Herzegovina, built upon the Dayton/Paris Agreement, was of lasting interest to the two countries and the region as a whole. They had also confirmed that the two countries had no claims against any part of the territory of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
ANWARUL KARIM CHOWDHURY (Bangladesh), President of the Security Council, speaking in his national capacity, said that over the last six years the international community had invested considerable efforts and energy to promote ethnic reconciliation, democratic institution-building and revitalization of the economy in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Continuation and redoubling of those efforts was an imperative. Failure to achieve the targets of institution-building and establishment of the rule of law would have repercussions throughout the region. It was recognized, however, that to achieve substantive progress, the leadership of Bosnia and Herzegovina had to be fully committed to the speedy achievement of durable peace, mutual accommodation and establishment of political, human and legal rights.
He said unfortunate incidents, including multiple instances of violence, had occurred in recent months, which made it difficult to sustain progress. Any upsurge in pursuit of ultra-nationalistic strategies and different political views would be counter-productive and would rapidly roll back the progress achieved so far. The success of multi-ethnicity in Bosnia and Herzegovina was crucial for that country and for the region. There should also be an effective strategy before exit by the United Nations. In the words of Mr. Klein, "we cannot get out without getting in". In addition, the continued support of the Council was important for peace and reconciliation in both Bosnia and Herzegovina and the greater region.
Mr. KLEIN then responded to questions and comments raised during the meeting. He noted that a folder with the mandate implementation plan had been distributed to members. It listed the 57 targets that must be completed. A brochure was included on the State Border Service. He hoped that by next July he would be able to tell the Council how close the Mission was towards completion. What the Mission would turn into must be considered, and the Council should decide which way it wanted to go. A civilian pillar and a military pillar must be maintained.
Regarding crowd control, he said there was no one out there who could engage on the civilian side. A multi-ethnic national police structure should be trained to deal with riots. There were currently 25 police officers who were Bosniacs, Croats and Serbs serving in East Timor, and others were serving elsewhere –- this was a positive step. There were 95 nationalities in UNMIBH, and more than 40 in the IPTF -- and this was an excellent example for the local population.
There was a real problem with resources, he said. In that light, he noted differences in salary scales. Those issues were being addressed, by such means as investigating the possibility of setting aside profits from the sale of seized contraband for paying the police.
He said a new formula for the country must be considered -– it was necessary to look towards the future and towards integration with Europe.
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