In the interest of speed transcripts of IFOR press briefings are issued in unedited format
Transcript of the Press Briefing
held on 24 July 1996
On a happier note, operations within the corps area continued with all parties demonstrating substantial compliance on the military aspects of Dayton. We continued with our support to the ICTY at the Nova Kasaba site monitoring of factional military training. We carried out polling station reconnaissance in the support of the OSCE and we conducted our standard area patrols. Now on that note MND (SE) are monitoring key points in Mostar at the moment following the city council meeting and we can report that the situation remains calm in that city. Let us hope for an early resolution of those problems there. Some encouraging notes on the FOM front. Yesterday we completed the first of eight bridges on the access track to Gorazde. This project involved Hungarian designers, Romanian constructors and Austrian transporters and now through their efforts travelers of every description.
We applaud the work of the UNHCR in their recent successes establishing bus routes and we will maintain support to those services through the IPTF should difficulties be encounted.
MND (SW) will conduct live firing at the Glamoc ranges on Thursday the 25th, Thursday the 25th, starting at 14:30. So tomorrow afternoon 14:30. Now the divisional elements will practice fire coordination of British as 90 155mm self propelled guns, Challenger tanks, Dutch mortars and helicopter weapon systems. After the demonstration there'll be an opportunity to see the equipment at close quarters. Now regarding that event let me announce quick parish notice. The British arm forces minister Mr Nicholas Soames and the Chief of the General Staff General Sir Charles Guthrie will also be there at that demonstration and we open up to you the opportunity to travel there if you wish and tomorrow leaving at lunch time from Sarajevo airport we have an air frame which will return at about 17:15. If you would like to go on that visit please sign up on the board outside, just let Chris Redman know that you wish to go.
I have final parish notice. USAid, the World Bank and the IMG will hold a press call here, tomorrow after the main 11 o'clock conference call.
A. Ivanko: since Max already mentioned Nova Kasaba I'll say few words about that. Now Nova Kasaba is one site. The ICTY believes that in this one site there are four smaller sites and the ICTY team is now working on two of these four sites. They have exhumed 19 bodies, 7 from the first site and 12 from the second site. Of these 19 bodies, 9 had their hands tied with a wire behind their back which suggest that these people were executed. Some of these bodies are new bodies which were not found during a probing exercise last month and that it is not clear what is the number of the bodies at that site.
Also some of you are aware that the Bosnian Croat police have arrested on the 19th, 9 suspects in the shooting which happened in Kiseljak of the car in which there was a woman working for the American Embassy. These 9 have been transferred to Livno where I understand they went in front of a judge on the 22nd I understand they will go in front of the judge tomorrow again, after that they are to be expected to be sent to the prison in West Mostar. We have been given access to these prisoners and to their cells and we they have not told us of any mistreatment.
Also about 11 hours ago in Doboj, a car bomb exploded outside the Doboj Republika Srpska police station. We understand one car was completely destroyed. Three cars were damaged. There is also some damage to the building. We have no reports of casualties and no information concerning the perpetrators and IPTF will monitor the situation there.
Also as of this week to try to deter the harassment of Serbs in Ilidza and Osijek. We will start joint patrols with the federation police. We are still getting reports in the single digits of harassment of Serbs in those areas, mostly small skilled harassment, threats, oral threats made and also IFOR has increased their patrolling in the area. So we are hoping that this will deter the harassment of the Serbs in the Serb suburbs. That is all.
Q: sorry I cam a little confused about the timing of this live fire exercise. Is it tomorrow or Friday?
Lt. Col. Marriner: tomorrow afternoon. And we will fly people from here at lunch time.
Q: the press release is saying it is the 26th, or is that a separate press release
Lt. Col. Marriner: can we just check the date on the press release and I will confirm that now. I will come back to you on that.
Q: Alex, has there been, judging from what you are saying it sound that there has been some improvement or at least diminution of the attacks on the Serbs in the suburbs, is this true or just people are not bothering reporting them any more?
A. Ivanko: the Commissioner believes that the criminal situation in the suburbs might be a little better than it was before. As a result specifically of increased patrolling by IPTF and IFOR. We still believe there is small scale intimidation and harassment and we receive reports directly, as well as from the Serb Sarajevo democratic initiative. Now I understand that the SSDI has published numbers and the numbers of families that have left the area, and there stands 70 people left Vogosca and 20 Blazuj in the past weeks. We can't confirm these numbers although we have received requests from a number of families to help evacuate them from the suburbs.
Q: and then, Mr. I believe.. Is it Bogdanovic or Jovanovic..?
A. Ivanko: Bogdan Jovanovic is still enjoying the hospitality of a Bosnian prison. His stay at the prison has been extended indefinitely. He has not been charged of any crimes and I understand that the Bosnian government will send his file for review to The Hague.
Q: Max, with regard to the security situation around Nova Kasaba, I understand that NATO has had to put on quite a protection detail up there and they have been getting abuse from cars driving by and from people shouting things. Do you have any details about that and what kind of posture do you have up there, given that it is such a long busy road?
Lt. Col. Marriner: my understanding is that there has been a certain amount of tension seen in local population. There has been some verbal abuse from passing cars which you correctly noted there. In terms of our posture David, it is as we had before with the ICTY, general area of security, I think the key point here is the one you raised that it is actually close to a road.
A. Ivanko: our understanding is that some of the locals that are helping out the ICTY team have been harassed and or threatened.
Q: the bombings, this is the second. It seems to be the same pattern with the cars outside of IPTF station and that combine with their threats. I wonder if you could say something to whether or not you believe that the process of intimidation continues on an effort to intimidate the IPTF in the RS is ongoing?
A. Ivanko: I would suggest that the RS are intimidating themselves because the bomb exploded in front of RS police station. So I gather that somebody in the RS is intimidating somebody in the RS. Concerning the threats to IPTF, we have received a letter from Dragan Kijec and we have been told at numerous levels that these threats at the local level do not represent RS policy and the Commissioner is happy with these explanations.
Q: Alex, what exactly in Doboj, which police station was bombed? Because, one is very near to OSCE building and second one is very near to Independent Weekly Alternative.
A. Ivanko: your understanding of the Doboj geography is better than mine. All I can tell is it is at the Doboj RS police station, so I'll have to check which one it is.
Lt. Col. Marriner: David, just before we go to David if I just one clear up that point from Glamoc. It is on Thursday afternoon, at 14:30. The confusion there is that MND (N) the second brigade on Friday, at 17:00 holding a similar function. Again sign up on the board there. Ok. But it is Glamoc Thursday. Thanks.
Q: Alex, you've spoken about the threats to IPTF in the past and then Kijec, and said no, no, this is all wrong, you got a lot of reassurances... Has any action been taken against any of the people that issued the threats in the first place and are you asking for anything like that to be done?
A. Ivanko: we can't really ask much to be done concerning the mayor of Ugljevik who is an elected official. We have raised this point with the RS authorities. I am not aware of anything being done with the mayor of Ugljevik. Concerning the chief of security of Pale, I understand he still has the same job he had when he made those threats and the Commissioner specifically asked for security assurances. We did not ask for the chief of security to be arrested or fired or whatever and we have been give these assurances.
I would also like to point out that even at the local level, for example in Prijedor, we were informed by the chief of police that there is no problem concerning the security of IPTF, even if Karadzic gets arrested they don't plan in any way to intimidate or harass IPTF officers. So at least the orders are filtering down.
Ladies and gentlemen thank you very much indeed.
Part III - Media Advisory
The following media advisory was issued today:
Admiral T. Joseph Lopez, US Navy, today arrived in Sarajevo to begin a series of meetings and briefings in preparation for assuming command of NATO's Peace Implementation Forces (COMIFOR) in Bosnia-Herzegovina.
Adm. Lopez will formally take over from Adm. Leighton W. Smith, US Navy, as Commander-in-Chief, Allied Forces Southern Europe (CINCSOUTH), Commander-in-Chief, US Naval Forces Europe (CINCUSNAVEUR) and COMIFOR, on 31 July 1996. The change of command ceremony will take place in Naples, Italy.
Adm. Lopez's schedule for this visit to Sarajevo does not allow for any media availability. However, we anticipate that he will be available to meet local media shortly after his return to Sarajevo following the change of command.