Press Releases

    6 March 2002


    NEW YORK, 5 March (UN Headquarters) -- Following is the statement of Secretary-General Kofi Annan to the Security Council in New York on 5 March:

    This meeting signals an important moment of transition and consolidation in Bosnia. I would like to begin by paying tribute to the High Representative, Mr. Wolfgang Petrisch, whose effective leadership helped secure the gains made by the international community over the last few years.

    I know he and my Special Representative, Mr. Jacques Klein, worked well together, and want to thank him for this cooperation as well. I would also like to salute the tireless efforts of my friend Javier Solana towards maintaining the momentum for peace and reconciliation throughout the Balkans. His presence today signals the priority that the European Union attaches to the future of Bosnia.

    The United Nations Mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina (UNMIBH) is well on track to completing its core mandate by the end of 2002.

    I believe this Council can be very satisfied with the work UNMIBH has performed -- as an advocate of reconciliation and an agent for the rule of law and of course, for what it has achieved already. It has improved and integrated the police, while serving as a voice of co-existence, tolerance and cooperation at all levels of society. Through all these efforts, UNMIBH’s civilian and police officers have done much to give the people of Bosnia faith in a better, and a peaceful and united future.

    Specifically, UNMIBH has transformed and reduced the police force from a 40,000-strong wartime militia to a 16,000-strong professional police force. In addition: each police officer has been trained in human rights; selected groups have been trained in drug control, organized crime, and crowd control; two multi-ethnic Police Academies have been established in Sarajevo and Banja Luka; and, at present, the State Border Service covers 75 per cent of the country’s borders, and has reduced illegal immigration through Bosnia and Herzegovina by two thirds.

    Of course, UNMIBH has not been alone in Bosnia and Herzegovina, but a part of a broader international effort –- including the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and the European Union –- which will continue. By the end of 2002, UNMIBH will have completed the peacekeeping phase of police restructuring. However, there will still be challenges to face –- for the Bosnians themselves and for the international community committed to helping them. Among these, in the area of police, are: low salaries and poor housing conditions; lack of funds, and continued political interference in the work of law enforcement agencies.

    There will undoubtedly continue to be a need for international monitoring and assistance in order to sustain the progress that has been made. I, therefore, welcome the recent decision by the European Union to establish a post-UNMIBH follow-on police mission (EUPM) to commence on 1 January 2003. The next phase of capacity building in law enforcement -– including improving judicial and penal systems -- will therefore be carried out in the European context.

    The UN stands ready to cooperate closely with the European Union, Office of High Representative and others concerned to ensure timely planning and a smooth transition.

    Ultimately, it is the people of Bosnia and Herzegovina who must take control of their own destiny and build a peaceful, prosperous future as a successful multi-ethnic State. It is my hope that they will find support and inspiration in the many countries around the world which have made their diversity their greatest asset, with opportunities for all in a climate of tolerance and mutual respect.

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