of the Secretary General
SACEUR and I would like this morning to update you on the latest developments regarding IFOR's mission in Bosnia. April 18th was D+120, the last deadline in the military annex of the Peace Agreement. With the passing of this milestone, we are entering a new phase: the transition to peace. During this phase, the civil aspects of the Peace Agreement will become increasingly important and IFOR will play an increased role in supporting civil implementation.
I will focus on three areas:
First, IFOR continues to carry out its primary task of ensuring compliance with the military aspects of the Peace Agreement. Our judgement is that there continues to be reasonable compliance with the agreement's military annex. There are no hostilities. There are no preparations for the spring offensives we have witnessed in years past. Forces are separated and the Parties are generally compliant with the Zone of Separation.
The Parties are on their way toward compliance with the D+120 requirements for the cantonment of heavy weapons and forces and their demobilisation. Full compliance has yet to be attained, but this seems to reflect practical difficulties, rather than an absence of intent. For the Parties, the scale and complexity of this task appears to exceed their capabilities.
Cantonment and demobilisation are important confidence-building steps. They are important to increasing security throughout the country, reducing tensions and promoting the transition to peace. IFOR, with the full support of the Council, will be taking an active approach in the coming days to achieving rapid compliance.
We will expect the Parties to attain compliance voluntarily. However, IFOR will be prepared to consider remedial action if this should take too long. This could entail the confiscation of heavy weapons or other measures that IFOR commanders already have the authority to take.
Second, IFOR continues to assist the High Representative and the international organisations involved in civil implementation as far as its principal tasks and available resources allow. IFOR is actively supporting reconstruction projects, including road upgrading, bridging and maintenance. It is helping to recommission and reconnect vital utility plants. It is helping to rebuild schools and medical facilities. IFOR also continues to provide security and logistical support to ICTY teams investigating mass graves.
With D+120 behind us, IFOR's policy is now to allow and encourage an increased involvement in civil tasks as a means of stimulating civilian restoration. However, significant effort will still be required to ensure compliance with the D+120 requirements, to maintain freedom of movement and to project a sense of security throughout the country. The complexity of the tasks ahead was well illustrated over the weekend, when IFOR had to intervene twice to prevent civil confrontations from turning violent. To steal a quote from General Joulwan: "The mission continues."
Pour terminer, permettez-moi de faire un certain nombre d'observations, qui nous portent au-del de l'chance J+120.
Tout d'abord, la priode d'ici septembre sera cruciale pour la prparation des lections. La communaut internationale doit travailler fort pour que puissent avoir lieu des lections quitables et libres. L'IFOR fera sa part en assurant un environnement sr et en s'employant apporter un soutien pratique l'OSCE. Les responsables de la planification de l'IFOR et de l'OSCE sont en troit contact pour dterminer les meilleurs moyens pour nous d'aider l'OSCE.
Deuxime observation: l'accord forg par l'intermdiaire du Bureau du Haut reprsentant au sujet de la Fdration de Bosnie-Herzgovine est un signe rcent de progrs. Des mesures concrtes en vue de mettre en oeuvre la Fdration ont t agres. Il s'agit notamment du transfert de structures gouvernementales, de l'abolition des droits de douane l'intrieur et d'un engagement renouvel faire de la Fdration une entit viable. Dans ses contacts avec les parties, l'IFOR s'attache galement dvelopper et renforcer les institutions de la Fdration.
Troisimement : les parties se sont engages, en vertu de l'Accord de paix, conclure un accord sur la limitation des armements d'ici au 6 juin. L'OSCE supervise ces ngociations, qui constituent une partie fondamentale de la "transition vers la paix" en Bosnie. Les efforts mens par l'IFOR pour veiller ce que les parties placent leurs armes lourdes et leurs forces dans des cantonnements ou les dmobilisent renforceront les travaux entrepris par l'OSCE dans ce domaine.
Finally, we need to be aware of other challenges we are likely to face in the weeks to come. The flow of refugees returning to their homes is increasing every day. Population movements will continue to increase as the weather improves. At the same time, demobilisation will result in large groups of former soldiers looking for work and shelter.
IFOR will help with these challenges by promoting freedom of movement, providing general security and backing up the International Police Task Force. But that, by itself, is not enough. We must also maintain the positive momentum on civil implementation and reconstruction. Indeed, the High Representative has underscored the importance of tangible economic development between now and the elections. A great boost was given by the Brussels Donors' Conference last week. Over $1.2 billion was committed for jump-starting the economy and rebuilding its infrastructure. With the secure environment provided by IFOR, and with this new injection of resources from the international community, nation-building in Bosnia and Herzegovina can now proceed on a solid basis.
Let me now hand over to SACEUR before we take your questions.
SACEUR Remarks: Thank you very much, Secretary General. Let
me also express my deep gratitude to you
and to the members of the North Atlantic Council who continue to provide such excellent
support for Operation Joint Endeavour. And ladies and gentlemen I would also like, before continuing my remarks, to ask that we all remember that this historic operation has not been without cost,
and convey our most heartfelt condolences to the nations and families of IFOR soldiers -- to
include many of our partners who have joined us -- who have died and others who have
great injuries in the service of bringing peace to Bosnia.
To try to put into graphics what the Secretary General has just said in words, I would like, as I have done in the past, to bring you up to date visually on where we are now at D+120 and what direction we're heading. You have seen this chart before, but I think it's important because continuity of our mission is extremely important here.
We started out with preparing and putting the enabling forces in. We then deployed the force. We now have been through implementation; creating the conditions of a zone of separation at four and 10 kilometers; and now moving the forces into cantonment areas. And we are now ready to begin phase four and the transition to peace. I only say this because in the mission that was approved by the Council in December, we will continue to execute our primary mission and military task, at the same time support expansion of civilian responsibilities. These do not go away as we transition, and I'd like to explain that if I can.
What we are in the process of doing now is with the forces now moving back into cantonment areas as shown here. You can see them for all the different Former Warring Factions, and the enormous numbers of weapons that we're dealing with. So what will happen now, once all these heavy weapons get into the cantonment areas, IFOR will have the responsibility to make sure they stay there. The intent, as I showed you last time: on the roads, freedom of movement -- those roads are now open. Also you see on here the challenge that we're going to have to make sure that the Former Warring Factions comply with this part of Dayton. That's going to take an effort -- resources, men and materiel in order to have that happen.
At D+90, I showed you how we were moving on freedom of movement on the roads. This is an important chart, because it shows the work that has been done in addition to that -- in addition to the four kilometers, in addition to the 10-kilometer zone of separation, in addition to moving back into the cantonment areas. IFOR has also put in two permanent bridges now, six bridges across the Sava, as well as two pontoon bridges, linking Bosnia to Europe. This will assist as we now progress with the return of refugees and elections, assist that flow, and that's going to be very important.
In addition to that, 49 other bridges have been put in -- and this is symbolic of what you can see here -- as well as numerous engineer projects that have been approved by the Council, and NATO infrastructure funds have provided this. This has been an enormous effort. If you had looked at this map at D-Day, you would have seen nothing but red. Where there were mines and bridges down, we have now opened up the country to where over 90 percent of the population can now be reached on roads that are open and free of mines. All of this will continue as we move into the days ahead.
Finally, to try to put all that in some perspective of what we have tried to do in these first 120 days: we entered and in the first 30 days separated four kilometers; in 45 days, the transfer of land took place; at D+90 we went to a wider 10-kilometer zone and also the gaining entity returned. All that has been done successfully, and now at D+120 they're moving back into cantonment areas. And as we go now beyond that, onward to 270 and the elections, it will be done within a Bosnia-Herzegovina where the foundation for success has been laid. It will require cooperation by the parties, and that's going to be extremely important. It will require close coordination between the military and the civilian agencies and the High Representative, and that is on-going now. We need to build on this as we build to the future, as we look to elections. But all of this still remains for IFOR to do. These are on-going missions that will continue. Thank you very much.
Q: (Hungarian News Agency) First, to General Joulwan. I understand that for technical reasons some of the expectations haven't been fulfilled yet. Could you specify how much remains -- what percentage of the forces should be withdrawn to the barracks; half of the heavy weapons, 90 percent of them ready -- help us a little bit to get a clearer picture on that? And to the Secretary General, you have just finished your trip all around Eastern Europe; could you make a short assessment with regard to the IFOR mission, if it's going on the right track or if some conditions could be improved.
SACEUR: On the issue of percent of compliance in the heavy weapons area, the finalization of that is being done now by the COMIFOR and COMARRC, but I would say it depends on what category. We have looked at tanks, artillery, air defense weapons and mortars. We started air defense earlier and I would say there is general compliance there, in the 80 to 95 percent range. Indeed, we have found in many cases more air defense weapons than initially declared. In the area of tanks I would say we're about 90 percent there, and in the area of artillery about the same, 85 percent. The two areas we do have some concern about are in air defense, the shoulder- fired weapon, and in area of the lower mortars. That's about the best I can do until we get some more facts in from the field.
SecGen: It's true I've just returned from a week's trip to different countries -- Ukraine, the Baltic countries, Hungary and Poland. As an overall assessment, the trip has been a great success, but particularly in relation to IFOR. All the countries I visited have provided troops to IFOR, and the first thing I did was to thank the governments and the people of the different countries for their generosity, their preparation and professionalism in the way they are handling their duties as far as IFOR is concerned. I have not found a single criticism in any of the countries about IFOR and the way it is going ahead. To the contrary, I've found, by talking to just about every political leader of the different countries, that they are satisfied with the way their country has been involved in IFOR. They've learned a lot from this operation and they're very satisified as I said before with the role the different countries are playing.
Q: (Mark Laity, BBC) A question to both of you, please. I've just returned from Bosnia and there virtually all sectors of opinion, whether it's military, civil, Bosnian, local, believe that the task and the mission will not be complete by the end of the year. Could you give an assessment as to whether you think the mission will be complete by the end of the year and whether you would consider staying on or having some force staying on?
SecGen: You have just listened to what General Joulwan has said. We have from now until D+270 an important mission to accomplish. It is directed toward the elections which as you know is a very important milestone politically for the future of Bosnia-Herzegovina from the point of view of a durable peace. But at this point we do think that we can comply with the mission given to us at Dayton in the period of time that was agreed, that means in a year. But of course we will be evaluating, as every sensible organization does, the events as time goes by. But at this moment I can tell you that we have a lot of work to do from now until D+270, and we think that we will comply with the time that was given to us in Dayton of one year.
SACEUR: I have nothing to add to what the Secretary General has said.
Q: (Mark Laity, BBC) But there is a military side as well, because I think the principal concern, the anxiety is that while there is a boundary separating the Serbs from the Croats and the Moslems, there is no boundary separating the Moslems from the Croats, and they don't seem to like each other any better. That's a particularly outstanding military problem. What do you consider the military task you still have is, then?
SACEUR: I think what we need to be able to do is not focus on what we're going to do a year from now, but as the Secretary General said, focus on the next eight months. That will determine the conditions we're going to face around the election time and even after, and I think it would be premature to start talking in a larger sense. On the Federation side, as we've said so often, there's a lot of work that needs to be done. But that needs to be done now, and that will determine what we're going to face later on. So our focus is very clear, our mission is very clear. That mission continues, and the next eight months are going to be very critical. We need to focus on that.
Q: (Frederick Bonnart) My question is to SACEUR. The cantonment areas shown below are reduced considerably or not clearly shown above. Presumably, between 180 and 270, a number of the forces will be demobilized so I suppose some of these will be closed. What is the intention that should happen to the heavy weapons?
SACEUR: That's a very good question. We want to make very clear, these heavy weapon cantonment areas need to be monitored, and that's what we're working on right now -- to get clarity of where they will be. We want to shrink that number as much as possible so that they can be monitored and so that we can have some assurances that we're not going to have any movement where it's going to threaten IFOR or another entity out of those cantonment areas. That is the plan, and that is going to take a great deal of effort on the part of the force that's on the ground now, and everyone needs to understand that. That mission does not go away.
Q: Secretary General, with regard to demobilization you mentioned the fact that you need to be flexible, you expect compliance but if it takes too long you would be prepared to consider actions such as confiscating the heavy weapons. What period of time do you consider a reasonable one?
SecGen: The word reasonable does not have a precise definition. As you can imagine, it depends on how things evolve, but I think we would agree between you and me what we mean by reasonable.
Q: (Mark Laity, BBC) There's been quite a lot of criticism at various points that NATO has been rather chary of getting itself involved in the civilian side of the Bosnia peace mission. Do you see being able to answer that criticism in the next eight months, and in particular could you comment on war crimes?
SecGen: I'd like to comment on that and let the General say a few words also. The cooperation between IFOR and the civilian aspects, in particular with Mr. Bildt and also with the Tribunal, has been much, much more wide and profound than sometimes you realize. Looking at the chart that the General has just presented, you can see that most of the major roads have been absolutely unblocked, there is freedom of movement, and that has been done by IFOR. You see also at some of the examples of facilities in the different townships that have been put in order with the help of IFOR.
So we have been involved in a very deep manner in order to help particularly the reconstruction aspect. As you know, as far as the Tribunal is concerned, all the requests that the Tribunal has asked, but one, have been answered in a positive manner and therefore we have had a very, very good relationship. And as far as war crimes is concerned, we will continue working with the same fluid and positive relationship that we have had with the Tribunal. The detention of war criminals is a major responsibility of the parties.
We have as you know a memorandum of understanding with the Tribunal to do our job, but the main responsibility is on the shoulders of the parties, and they have to know that for the future of Bosnia-Herzegovina they must comply with Dayton as far as the war criminals are concerned. That is the main concern they should have now in order at the end of this period to be re-incorporated in the international community. They will not be otherwise.
SACEUR: If you look at what we have done since December 20th with the civilian agencies, I think you will see it has been very robust. There are certain limits that have been given to me in my instructions, but in our civil-military cooperation we have 400 of our troops involved with the agencies in all manner of things, from facilities, to roads to constitution, to elections -- all that has been on-going. We have direct contact with OSCE, UNHCR, the High Representative, ICRC, and the International Tribunal.
We have provided area of security recently on how it should work with the International Tribunal around Srebrenica in the vicinity, and that has gone very well. So we are involved, and as I tried to explain, the concept as approved by this Council has allowed that flexibility and that working relationship. I think it's going extremely well, I think that we are now looking at this transition where we are looking at continuing our military tasks and also assisting in facilitating the civilian task as well.
Q: To SACEUR and also to Mr. Solana. You mentioned the second Donors Conference ten days ago in Brussels. There we learned that Karadzic and Mladic still are playing a strong role in Bosnia, so why can't IFOR troops catch these criminals? Why can Karadzic and Mladic still undermine this peace process?
SECGEN: Let me first underline the importance of the Donor Conference, which without any doubt has been quite an important event. But as far as the war criminals are concerned, as you know the responsibility according to Dayton lies with the parties, and the parties should comply with Dayton. We are going to do whatever is in our hands, within the mandate that we have. Of course the war criminals will be removed from political life, but also without being removed from their ordinary life, the future of Bosnia-Herzegovina will be difficult without any doubt.
Therefore the parties, and those who want a future in Bosnia-Herzegovina, have to do what they have complied to do in Dayton. That will be the best guarantee they will have to have a Bosnia incorporated into the international community, and particularly in Europe. We need out of the electoral process new leadership, a leadership that is prepared to look forward and not a leadership which is prepared to continue looking backwards.